By Maggie Lee

It’s not even August, but Sandy Springs roads are ready to melt.

“City managers gave us instructions to try and find innovative things to do to stretch our dollar,” said Sandy Springs Field Services Manager Ron Adderley.

So how’s he’s going to do it?  He’s not going to resurface streets, he’s going to melt the pavement in place, stir it around and smooth it back out.

Well, melt and stir will do for a simplification, Adderley told members of Sandy Springs City Council on Nov. 16, though the real engineering is much more complicated.

The city is set to fix 17 small roads by the end of the year and do it 20 percent under budget.

“If we didn’t do anything soon,” Adderley said, “they would probably be on the list for resurfacing.”

The newish technique, called “hot-in-place recycling,” is cheaper than resurfacing.  Fifteen years ago, few state highway departments had heard of it.  But Cobb County has since tried it, to their county commission’s satisfaction.  Now Sandy Springs follows, contracting Illinois’ Gallagher Asphalt at $417,000 to melt and reform some three miles of mainly subdivision streets.

“Hot-in-place” is designed for surface streets that get relatively little traffic and haven’t already been reworked much.

It’s considered routine maintenance that should prevent bigger bills down the road.  Says Adderley, this process can add seven to nine years of life. That’s nearly as durable as a resurfacing at three-fourths the price.

The other options the city could have chosen for maintenance include heavy patching or sealing cracks with a dark-color compound that ends up looking like a spider web of tar on the road.  No cost estimates were presented for the other methods. The request for proposals specified that the roads were to be fixed via melting.

A hot-in-place road looks just like a resurfaced road. To engineers, it has the advantage of actually removing cracks instead of just slowing them down.

Franklin Road will get the treatment as will the following streets: Aerie Court, Carriage Drive, Drummen Court, Fauna Court, Helmsley Drive, Lackland Court, Marilyn Place, Morganshire Place, Mountain Brook Lane, Tanglewood Court and Trail, Valemont Drive, View Hill Court, Vinington Court, Wicksford Glen and Woodall Way.

The work should be finished in four months or perhaps sooner, if Adderley gets enough dry, cool days.

But that’s only the smallest part of Sandy Springs’ overall asphalt strategy, called for short “Pave On.”

It’s budgeted at $4.8 million for the year ending in June 2011.  Besides the hot-in-place contract, that number includes paving busy roads like Northside Drive and Powers Ferry Road.

Since the city was founded five years ago, it has budgeted a total $18 million for repaving and road reconstruction.  The Georgia Department of Transportation granted about another million over the years.

The $70,000 expected to be left in Adderley’s budget for the road repair projects doesn’t go straight back into city coffers, however.  The work must first be done to the city’s specifications and the contractor paid.  After that, the city can spend the balance when amending the midyear budget this winter.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.