Main Street a dusty trail

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The rain was supposed to wash away the dust and leave Main Street like it was before all the utility work began more than a year and a half ago.

It doesn’t seem to have worked. 

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The run-up to the remnants of Hurricane Michael Friday left the newly coated portion of Main Street in Smithfield looking like an actual road from Colonial times — muddy and dirty — rather than emulating the current roads of Virginia’s Colonial capital in Williamsburg. 

It appears the split gravel has been pushed to the sides of the street, leaving a swath of dust, sand, dirt or whatever one wants to call it, in the middle where vehicles travel. 

And once the street dried Friday, the dust was back in the air. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Town officials met with the contractor for the project Tuesday and decided that the loose gravel along the curb, as well as the dust, will be removed, according to Rick Bodson, who serves as a communications liaison to the historic district merchants in a Smithfield 2020 update. 

Several crosswalks, one at a time, will be touched up or redone, according to Bodson.

Street closures for the crosswalks will be managed via detours to allow for traffic, according to Bodson. 

No other remediation of the street surface is planned.

Bodson said the bare areas showing asphalt will go away in time, and a second layer of gravel under the top surface will be uncovered over time. 

“The impact of the dust should have been anticipated and communicated to the businesses in the 100 and 200 blocks; it wasn’t. However, the scale of the dust was not anticipated,” said Bodson. 

Bodson said the excess gravel and dust are designed to seal the tar and keep it from being tracked where it is not wanted. 

Last week, and prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams said that perhaps the dust should have been removed prior to its application. 

It takes time to get this right and perhaps the contractor should sweep up what is loose and redo it, said Williams.

Efforts to reach Williams after the meeting with the contractor Tuesday for further comment were unsuccessful. 

The split pea gravel was chosen instead of the previous whole gravel because it was thought it would better adhere to the tar underneath. 

Those who were involved when Main Street was was first rebuilt and coated with the whole pea gravel said the pea gravel did tend to roll to the side, but that dust, dirt, sand or whatever it is, was not an issue.  {/mprestriction}