By Pat Grubb
Beginning next month, residents and visitors can expect traffic control delays, lower speed limits and loose rocks on roadways as the county road department applies what they call an asphaltic emulsion on the majority of roads in Point Roberts. Asphaltic emulsion, or chip seal, as locals say, will be applied on 23 miles of the Point’s 37 miles of public roads.
Major roads that are scheduled to be chip-sealed include Tyee Drive, Gulf Road, APA Road, Johnson Road, Benson Road, Marine Drive, Simundson Drive and South Beach Road. Work is scheduled to begin in May when asphalt trucks will be laying a thin layer of asphalt on four miles of selected roads while the chip-sealing will take place from June through late July.
Roads that have shoulders such as Tyee Drive, Gulf Road and others will have the chip-sealing only in the traffic lane, leaving the shoulders smooth for pedestrians and cyclists. Roads without paved shoulders will be chip-sealed entirely; any dirt shoulders will not be covered, according to Joe Rutan of Whatcom County public works department. That would be considered new construction, he said, and would be considered a capital works project that would trigger new regulations involving drainage and other issues.
Users of wheeled modes of transportation should expect loose rocks for about two weeks after the application of the chip-seal. Cyclists and motorcyclists, in particular, should be cautious while navigating the Point during this period to avoid wiping out while cornering.
Asked why pure pavement roads such as Gulf Road, Tyee Drive and parts of Marine Drive, APA Road and Simundson Drive needed to be covered with chip-seal as opposed to straight asphalt, Rutan said that’s the way the county maintains its roads. “We’re a rural county and that’s the way we do it.”
In 2004, however, Rutan said the county “upgraded” a number of roads from chip-sealed to asphalt when much of Maple Beach, South Beach Road, Edwards, Marina and Harbor Seal drives were overlaid with asphalt, among others.
A list of roads to be chipsealed is included below.