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Wednesday, July 6

Ralph Fair Road - why the disruption lately?

We've gotten several calls, emails, messages (and even some tweets) regarding the work done on Ralph Fair Road the last few weeks. Well, here's the skinny.

We've got maintenance crews working to fix the roadway edge and eliminate the sharp drop-off at the edge of the pavement. This is caused by erosion, really, and some quick work to add some dirt and sod should put a decent fix on things.

While the work is done we're running one-way traffic control with a pilot car. That means we've got flaggers on site holding traffic in one direction while the other moves. Our maintenance supervisors have timed the traffic delay throughout each day and report average delays of 5-8 minutes.

So how long will this be going on? Great question! We're glad you asked!

We expect today (Wednesday) to be the last day of work this week, but crews will be back out there next week. That said, if weather holds (and it should) we expect to be finished by the end of next week.

These drop-offs and the attendant erosion need to be addressed for two big reasons. The first - and most important - is a safety issue. The second is a structural issue.

It should be pretty clear how this can be a safety issue. As much as we all try to keep it between the lines, not a one of us hasn't at some point let a tire drift to the edge of the roadway at least one time. If that happens where a dropoff exists, the chance for a crash may increase. When we build up that dropoff, that risk is mitigated. It's pretty simple.

We wrote about pavement failures quite a while ago, and this erosion simply contributes to a variety of pavement failures, including spalling. What happens is water gets down under the actual asphalt, having the easy route without our shoulders in place, and washes out the foundation of the roadway. That leaves pockets and can lead to potholes - which kind of annoy everyone.

We need to address both these issues immediately in order to prevent further damage or potential safety issues. We're also hoping to stay out of the way of school traffic (mission accomplished there...).

those who actually clicked on some of the links may have seen something about a "safety edge treatment". This sort of thing is pretty typical for us on new roads, and on roads we improve. By the way, we do have a plan to expand Ralph Fair to four lanes (currently estimated at $35 million to do), which will mean a much more permanent fix. That work is currently planned for the year 2020.