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Middlefield Road 'repaving'

Original post made by Jarred on Oct 23, 2007

Has anyone else noticed what a god-awful job is being done repaving Middlefield between Colorado and Charleston?

Palo Alto is the one city that actually manages to make its roads BUMPIER when it repaves them. Then they immediately dig holes in the streets for utility work. Then they repave them and they get even bumpier.

But at least we have a great city website and a mayor who cares about global warming!

Comments (19)

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 8:18 pm

There are actually roads all over Midtown that are being done at the same time and left in the same condition. Greer is completely blocked off at Louis and there are other areas where sidewalk work is being done. To make matters worse, I see they have posted signs in downtown on Northbound Alma to say that they will be working there and expect delays for the first couple of weeks of November.

Why can't they do one job, finish completely, paint the lane markers, etc. and then move onto the next job. Not only are they doing a pretty awful job, driving anywhere in Midtown is now one construction zone after another.


Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Sorry, I meant Southbound Alma.

There may be signs northbound too, but I only drive southbound on my way back from El Camino baseball park as there is no other way to sensibly negotiate Alma/El Camino even though it would be quicker for me. They couldn't get that one right either!!


Posted by bikes2work, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Oct 23, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I could be wrong, but I think the paving project was delayed because of all the rain that was predicted last week. Paving and rain don't mix and the contractor probably didn't want to risk it. As usual, the weatherman was wrong.


Posted by Craig, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2007 at 11:34 pm

I love all the dust in the air from the gravel. I know its easy to armchair quarterback, but what was wrong with Middlefield before the repaving? I don't remember it looking too bad.


Posted by Driver, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:18 am

The roadways are poorly paved and left bumpy deliberately - it slows the traffic down!


Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:15 am

Palo Alto has the worst roads in the area.


Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:45 am

LOL! First, people complain that Palo Alto's roads are the worst (which they're not - Craig's post, above, says it all for most citizens), then when we get road repairs, we hear that its inconvenient, or people don't like the end product. Catch 22, anyone?


Posted by Why the sudden repairs, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 5:39 pm

No Catch 22. We are noticing the sudden rush of repairs all over town including streets not mentioned yet. We are wondering what is causing the sudden rush. Maybe it is the end of the budget year? I'm curious too, what is going on.
Middlefield wasn't a problem, why the resurfacing?


Posted by Jarred, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 8:03 pm

I agree with the people who question why Middlefield needed repaving. Or to be more precise, why it needed a repaving that actually made it bumpier. I could understand a repaving that made it smoother.

Now they are about to repave the circle that I live on in Midtown. The street is in reasonably good condition. I'm sure it will be much worse when they are done.

I wonder if they are repaving it so it can be more "environmentally correct". I heard that when they repaved East Bayshore a few years ago, they used a paving material made partly from old car tires, for environmental reasons. It may make the road last longer, or be more environmentally benign, but it's certainly more wear and tear on the cars and the drivers.


Posted by Noah, a resident of University South
on Oct 24, 2007 at 8:07 pm

I drive that stretch of Middlefield every day, and have for the past year on my way to work. It is in my opinion worse now with the new paving than it was before. Before, it was smooth and decent, with a minimum of road "cuts". Now, it's bumpier and far noisier.

I also noticed they've dug up many streets around my neighborhood (Homer, Channing, etc...). Ironically, those streets were in fine condition. Forest however is a complete off-road dump of a road, with tons of road cuts and temporary patches. Guess what? Forest isn't getting paved (at least not yet).

Who sets these priorities?


Posted by Albert, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 9:49 pm

There are lots of roads that had trenches cut and rectangles cut and patched here and there as a result of utilities projects. This is true of Middlefield, Colorado and others. The pavement was locally smooth but globally bad, with many seams that degrade quickly with rain and temperature cycling. The paving jobs being done are called "chip seals" and are known to be the cheapest approach, albeit with unreliable results. The underlying base and pavement is not touched. A sticky layer of tar is applied and covered with gravel. It is left for a week or so to allow traffic to press the gravel into the tar. Then a final layer of sealant is applied and the lines are painted. The result is a surface that is rough on the scale of inches but has all the cracks sealed against rain and is more resistant to breakup due to differential expansion. This is considered a stop-gap measure that is good for about 5 years, at which time a complete dig-up and re-paving is needed.
It is MUCH less expensive to do many streets at once than to do one street completely, then do another street completely, etc. This job is contracted out to a company that does paving jobs all over the state. They have specialized equipment for each stage of the job, and we pay for the amount of time that equipment is in Palo Alto. If, for example, we stripe all the streets in one week it costs much less than if we spend one day striping one street, then another day a week later and so on for a month. We would be paying for the striping equipment for a month instead of for a week. The contractor would not be willing or able to move the equipment elsewhere for a few days, then back to Palo Alto once a week.
Palo Alto did not do chip seals for many years because the result is somewhat unreliable, depending on the effects of traffic to achieve the final result. As a bicyclist I hate chip seals, which have a very high rolling resistance and uncomfortable feel. As a Palo Alto taxpayer, though, I understand that they are trying to accomplish road repairs with a very constrained budget.


Posted by Jarred, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Albert, thanks for the info. It must be that gravel that makes it so bumpy. I notice that even when the newly repaved road looks smooth and level, it feels bumpy as I drive over it. I guess I'm feeling the gravel.

Do you think Middlefield will get any smoother? Will the final layer of sealant smooth it out at all, or did they already apply the sealant?


Posted by What has come to this country, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:53 pm

It is called "Cheapo Job".

Made in China is actually better.



Posted by Driver, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm

So, today I wanted to go down Colorado to Bayshore, but found the road blocked off. Instead I turned left on Greer to get to Oregon. I had to u turn on Greer because the road was blocked off. All this was due to repaving. Can we please have sensible signs telling us that there is no way through. I along with many motorists were caused much confusion trying to get from Colorado to 101. Our streets are not mazes, it is not a competition to find out who is the brightest, we just want to get where we are going without having to turn round or alter our route more than once.

Thank you.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:14 pm

The el cheapo slurry job is a political ploy to take the heat off. It reflects the failure to do proper infrastrucre mainenance over many years. Take heart, though...we DO have a new enviromental bureaucracy that can help save the world, even though it contributes to el cheapo streets!


Posted by Old Streets, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 9:15 pm

The City repaves the street which makes them smoother, then everyone complains the vehicles are going too fast. Don't repair our streets just leave them in need of repair, it will slow the traffic down.


Posted by Vehicle Driver, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Have you noticed the re-striping along Middlefield has made the vehicle lanes and turning lanes much narrower and the parking and bicycle lanes much wider. This is the way they plan to slow the traffic down.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2007 at 10:20 am

I had a nightmare 10/31 afternoon just trying to get to and from Safeway from my home (should be a quick trip - but found out at last minute Colorado was blocked off from Louis, so had to go way down and come back, then huge backup on Middlefield to Oregon..).

I would appreciate a website or phone recorded message where residents could check each day as to the road work scheduled: just the basics of which streets/blocks will be closed and so on.

This has happened top me many times where I have had tremendous detouring with no advance notice around this city in the past several years I have lived here. I am wasting time and gasoline and rushing to not be late.


Posted by KT, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2007 at 6:01 pm

First of all, I have never ever seen a worse repaving job in my entire life. None of the lines are straight, there is one point on Middlefield where you have to make a sharp turn to the right if you are headed from Charleston toward Loma Verde. Also, a biker is going to be killed because the bike lane just ends. I do think that the roads desparately needed to be repaved, but not by the same people who trimmed the trees about a month and a half ago!!! They need professionals!

Also, I agree that the roads are much bumpier....like the steam roller ran out of steam! All in all...a horrible job was done and whoever actually paid money for that job needs to be fired. The company should be paying the city not to sue them for such a horrible job.

Also, I think because elections are coming up that people are in a rush to get the work they promised done so they can be re-elected on Nov. 6th....well maybe we should all think twice about that one!


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