Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM The intersections and crosswalks of Wilbraham may soon be receiving a makeover. A new high friction surfacing material is being tested this winter on the crosswalk on Soule Road near Loring Road.
The surface treatment, made of epoxy and finely crushed stone, creates a high friction surface which improves the wearing of the surface and is low maintenance. It can reduce hydroplaning and improve skid resistance for vehicles and pedestrians.
Edmond Miga, Jr., Director of Public Works and Town Engineer for Wilbraham, said he originally read about the surface treatment in a public works magazine.
"The bridge deck on Cottage Avenue used to just be a grate, which we have filled in with concrete," he said. "We want to treat that concrete surface to protect it."
The maker of the high friction surface, Crafco, lists crosswalks, bike lanes, sharp curves, speed bumps, medians and driveways as some of the potential areas of usage.
"The big application we're interested in is the bridge, if it works out on the crosswalk," Miga stated.
Bridges generally freeze first in winter months and because of that, get worn down more quickly, according to Miga. The surface treatment would help preserve the bridge.
The testing area on Soule Road will show how well the surface treatment holds up over the winter months under lots of automotive traffic, snowplows, sand and salt.
The Wilbraham DPW will also be doing something that's never been done before with the treatment they'll be layering it over the paint of the crosswalks. "Instead of having to paint them every year, the treatment will only require us to paint the crosswalks every five years," Miga said. "If it works well, I definitely want to apply it to other crosswalks in town.
"I'm pretty impressed with [the treatment]," he continued. "It's easy to put down and it sealed up all the cracks in the road at the crosswalk. It's multi-purpose."
To apply the treatment, workers first lay down a layer of epoxy, or glue, then cover it in stones. Different colors of stone are available, but Wilbraham went with a natural earthy red tone, according to Miga. "I think it's very attractive," he added.
Another positive attribute to the surface treatment is that it's not too expensive. "We estimate that it will cost $30,000 to treat the bridge on Cottage Avenue, but the treatment should really offset future costs and repairs of the bridge," Miga said.
The only downside Miga can see with the high friction surface is when it can be applied.
"It takes a few hours for it to set up," he explained. "It also has to be warm. Temperatures over 70 are better." Neither pedestrians nor vehicles are allowed to pass over the surface until it has completely set.
As far as Miga knows, Wilbraham is the only town in the area that has used this surface treatment so far.
For more information on the high friction surface, visit Crafco's Web site at www.crafco.com.