Castle Creek Road cracks to be sealed

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times

Cracks in the newly paved Castle Creek Road will be sealed this year — a routine maintenance step that will occur sooner than expected in response to fissures that developed over the winter months, according to G.R. Fielding, Pitkin County engineer.

County commissioners will be updated on the cracking issue during their work session Tuesday.

The asphalt overlay applied to the road has been subjected to laboratory testing since county officials first noticed the cracking in January, according to a memo to commissioners. The test results indicate that the materials met specifications.

What has occurred, Fielding said, is “reflective cracking” — cracks in the old layer of asphalt that are reflecting through the new one. The new pavement was laid down last summer on virtually the entire length of Castle Creek Road. In most places, the old asphalt was not removed, according to Fielding.

“We expect to see reflective cracking in the new asphalt. We were just surprised to see it as early as we did,” he said.

The county spent about $3 million last year to pave seven roads. Elam Construction did the work. Castle Creek subsequently developed the most severe cracking, according to Fielding, though the other roads experienced cracking, as well.

“Elam has agreed to crack-seal Castle Creek Road this year,” he said.

The work will be done at no cost to the county, and Elam will continue to honor a two-year guarantee on the paving project, according to the memo to commissioners. Pitkin County will release the remaining $600,000 it owes Elam for last year’s paving work as part of an agreement between the county and the contractor.

The cracks won’t be as noticeable in the summer, when the asphalt expands with the heat, Fielding added.

Road cyclists raved last year after the smooth ribbon of new pavement on Castle Creek was finished, comparing it to fresh corduroy on the ski slopes. The scenic road is a popular ride.

“It will still ride really nice,” Fielding said.