Whatcom County Maintenance & Operations maintains approximately 940 miles of the county road system by preventing, reducing, or restoring deterioration of the roadway infrastructure through road surface and roadway structure management. Work items include surface patching, depth patching, chip seal, asphalt pre-level, crack sealing, snow and ice removal, garbage pick-up, dust control, blading gravel roads, cleaning and sweeping roadways, shoulder work, and various pavement maintenance techniques.
The Chip Seal Program provides a bituminous surface treatment (BST) to maintain and extend longevity for the county roadway system. Chip Seal acts as a key to many M&O maintenance activities, such as shoulder rehabilitation, vegetation and drainage projects.
Annual planning and coordination with the Engineering Division occurs to review road-rating data for future planning and to provide data required by the County Road Administration Board (CRAB).
The Asphalt Pre-level program provides the proper grade, strength, and stability to roadway surfaces and precedes BST. The annual application program typically includes hot mix asphalt employing both private contractors (90%) and county forces (10%). Specifications are provided by the Engineering Division as well as survey support for monument offset markings.
Shoulder maintenance and rehabilitation is an intricate part of road maintenance and provides additional challenges involving the Endangered Species Act and protection of habitat and area drinking water. Great care is required and best management practices are paramount when working next to habitat while considering water runoff target zones. The main direction is to provide shoulder stability, creation of a smooth transition from roadway surface to shoulder, and coordination with other road maintenance projects.
Many of the M&O road maintenance procedures prevent hazardous materials, silt, and sand from entering waterways. One such program is the sweeping and cleaning of the roadway using a capture or side cast power broom. The process will also improve vehicle traction on the paved surfaces and bicycle passage on paved shoulder areas. Where would we be without the tireless storm response by the road crew in removing tons of snow and ice from county roads? A proactive customer service policy is in place to respond to sanding and snow and ice removal requests. Staying conscious of habitat protection, a chemical anti-icing program has been initiated to lower the use of salt/sand mix, especially in watersheds. All traditional maintenance activities and budgets are continually reviewed with attention to the ever-changing regulatory environment. The challenges of ESA and the Clean Water Act require careful thought leading to long-range planning goals. Quality training is necessary to raise the level of awareness to achieve success in reaching these long-term goals. Support from policy makers will also be a significant factor as to the level of success as we transition towards a new regulatory environment.