DelDOT broadens scope of Main St. repaving
A summer project to repave Main Street has expanded in scope after state transportation officials realized the condition of the road is worse than originally thought.
The work, still set to begin early this summer, will now include a full reconstruction of the road, said George LeCates, a project manager for the Delaware Department of Transportation.
The original plan was to do a standard mill and overlay, which consists of scraping off 2 to 3 inches of the pavement and replacing it with new asphalt. However, that would only last about seven years, LeCates said.
The problem lies more than a foot under the road surface, where there’s old concrete beneath the asphalt. When joints in the concrete fail, it damages the asphalt above.
“You can see every joint if you ride down and look,” LeCates said, explaining they appear as horizontal cracks in the road.
The concrete would have to be patched anyway, so DelDOT decided to replace it instead. Crews will dig up the entire road surface, getting rid of the aging concrete and replacing it with approximately 14 inches of asphalt.
The work will be more complex but will last up to twice as long, an important factor considering the difficulty in doing work on a highly trafficked road, LeCates said.
“It’s no fun to go [work] on Main Street. It’s disruptive and inconvenient,” he said. “Let’s fix it for good and we’ll see you every 10 or 12 years, maybe longer.”
LeCates said the project is still slated to last about a year and said the expanded scope shouldn’t affect drivers much more than the original plan would have. However, Newark officials warned in a report that the project will be “more disruptive.”
“The additional work of digging up the foundation and rebuilding means there will be a longer construction time,” city spokeswoman Kelly Bachman said.
In conjunction with the repaving, city officials are planning the installation of several “parklets” along Main Street.
Parklets take up one or more on-street parking spaces, typically extending out from the sidewalk and spanning the width of the parking space, and are a growing trend in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Amenities could include benches, bicycle parking, landscaping and public art installations.
By standardizing the size of parking spaces — some are currently larger than the standard 19 feet long — the project will actually result in an additional four spaces. That includes eight designated handicapped spaces, of which there are currently none.
The Downtown Newark Partnership has been working on the parklet proposal for several years, and the planned repaving project is an ideal time to implement it.
“It’s an opportunity to introduce some landscaping and some of the niceties,” Joe Charma, who chairs the DNP’s Design Committee, explained last year. “It would give people a place to relax downtown with a cold beverage or an ice cream cone.”
An artist’s rendering shows what Main Street could look like following a project to repave the road and install parklets.