NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Quaker Street was on fire Wednesday morning, or so it seemed, as the Department of Public Works began a $2.5 million, five-year road maintenance program approved by voters in May.
Quaker Street and Mendon Road, from the Upton to the Mendon town lines, are being restored through a process called hot-in-place asphalt recycling.
In the first phase, two trucks equipped with infrared heaters slowly travel over the road heating, milling and scarifying the asphalt. Flames are normal when the heat comes in contact with something flammable, explained Highway Department Superintendent Robert Van Meter Wednesday morning.
A rejuvenating agent for flexibility is mixed into the chewed-up asphalt, which is placed back onto the road. That asphalt is then smoothed with a steam-roller.
The first part of the process, weather permitting, should be completed by the middle of next week, Van Meter said.
During the second phase, which will begin in three or four weeks, the road will be covered with liquid asphalt heated to 375 degrees, blended with shredded rubber tires and sprayed across the surface of the road, Van Meter said. Small stones are placed on top of the liquid asphalt.
It isn’t a process Van Meter would recommend for subdivisions where many children are riding bicycles and skateboards, he said.
Van Meter and Department of Public Works Director James Shuris look at specific criteria when matching roads to maintenance systems, including cost effectiveness and impact to motorists.
About 73,000 square yards of road, about five miles, will be repaired in this first year of a five-year program, he said.
Voters OK’d the expenditure of $635,000 over that five-year period. The remainder will come from the state.
Highway Rehab. Corp. of Brewster, N.Y., is the contractor.