Guest Editorial, June 27-29, 2012 |

Guest Editorial, June 27-29, 2012

John Haney, Park City

I’m very sure that every American knows that federal highway funds are one of the largest criminal organizations on the planet. It’s mostly wasted on needless repaving and chip seal.

It’s most evident in Idaho where they chip seal every square inch of asphalt. Idaho is also one of the most undesirable states for bicycles. They have a really high injury and death rate for the low number of cyclists there. Almost 100 percent of the crashes there are caused by piles of gravel from chip-seal jobs that accumulate in intersections. I’ve broken bones in races on courses that were chip sealed the day before the race. There is absolutely no reason to chip seal or slurry seal residential areas; dumping tons of gravel into storm-drain systems is probably not a very good idea.

It’s also no picnic driving in Idaho; you know you’re going to run into a traffic jam caused by chip sealing and you know you’re going to do some damage to your windshield and your car.

Chip seal is also becoming a serious problem to the health of all Americans, especially truck drivers. Long-term health problems caused by being rattled to death by all the really bad chip-seal jobs on almost all the highways today is not being recognized. For some reason, 90 percent of all chip-seal contractors do as bad a job as possible because the government really doesn’t care. These nasty chip-seal jobs are also the main cause of fatigue and a major cause of most accidents.

The main reason for chip seal and slurry seal, other than to waste federal highway funds, is that they wear your tires out faster and cause your car to get poorer fuel economy. The tire-wear problem is especially noticeable on semi trucks. It’s hard not to notice the radical increase in chunks of retreads on the highways.

I’m sure that if Idaho residents could vote chip seal and slurry seal out of existence, they would. The chip-seal Mafia would be out of business and Idaho would no longer be "the chip-seal state."

Park City was one of the main players in the formation of the slurry-seal Mafia in Utah. Park City public works was looking for a road surface that would get bicycles and rollerbladers off the streets of Park City. First they tried chip seal with never-dry tar, sort of a disaster, if anyone remembers. Then they found slurry seal (almost as bad). Slurry seal is really bumpy, really slippery and causes the road to fall apart faster. Perfect! Slurry seal almost completely eliminated rollerblading, made it treacherous for bicyclists, and is sort of scary to drive on. There is still no reason for the existence of slurry seal except to waste federal highway funds or make parking lots look black.

Salt Lake used to be a good place to ride bikes for transportation. You could easily avoid traffic by riding through residential areas (no traffic except for crossing main traffic routes occasionally). Now they are starting to slurry seal residential areas.

Everyone who lives on a street that has been slurry sealed or chip sealed says the same thing: "I sure wish they wouldn’t have done that." The residents don’t really need to hear every SUV or pickup truck that passes their house. Speaking of that sound, it’s the sound of tires wearing out and gas being wasted.


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