What’s up with blacktop sidewalks?

By Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat June 14, 2013 11:30 am

Blacktop-like repairs along downtown Sonora sidewalks have raised citizen concerns in recent weeks about aesthetics, but city officials say it is part of a cost-cutting experiment that will be made to look like normal concrete.

The hodge-podge repairs were a topic of discussion at a Chamber of Commerce town-hall meeting Thursday, and have also generated buzz on the street.

“We’re trying to find a cost effective way to fix or repair damaged spots on a sidewalk,” said Public Works Supervisor Bill Seldon. “It is just far, far less expensive to do it.”

The material being applied, mostly along Washington Street, between Bradford and East Jackson streets, is called sheet asphalt. Seldon said rumors going around that the city is using cold patch — used to fix potholes — are incorrect.

Sheet asphalt is different because it goes down hot. It is commonly used for surfaces that need a thin layer of filler like tennis courts, he said.

When applied, the sheet asphalt clashes with lighter color of the surrounding sidewalk.

Seldon said the city will lay down a finish that will make it look more like traditional concrete.

The work isn’t meant to be a long-term solution to deteriorating sidewalks.

It’s temporary, and “somewhat of an experiment,” Seldon explained.

If it shows promise as a short-term solution that is not unsightly, the city will be using it to fix more spots around town.

“The funds aren’t there to go in and do a complete sidewalk repair,” Seldon said. “To do a repair is really not feasible at this time.”

Opinions of people on the street were mixed. 

Daniel Angel, strolling downtown this morning, thought it gave Washington Street a “nostalgic” look and was fine with the process as long as it was safe. 

Daryl Sarina, business manager of Heart Rock Cafe in downtown Sonora, knew it was only temporary and trusts city workers to do a good job. 

Kelli Poole jogs the streets and thought it was “not the best-looking thing.”

She thought the city should better match the sidewalk color.