Deschutes County begins Skyliners Road chip-sealing, assures cyclists the bike lanes get smoother treatment

Posted on in category Positive News tagged Cycling , Deschutes , ODOT , Roads

Chip-sealing will take place on eight miles of Skyliners Road. Read more here.

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Deschutes County began a chip-sealing project on about eight miles of Skyliners Road west of Bend on Wednesday, and an official assured concerned cyclists that the bike lane is getting a different treatment that won’t leave it too rough for safe cycling.

Some cyclists and others expressed their concerns on a comment thread on Reddit’s Bend subreddit on Wednesday (warning: some graphic language) upon learning of the project, one of several chip-sealing projects the county is undertaking this summer.

But Chuck Schutte, operations manager for the Deschutes County Road Department, said chip-sealing only will be done in the travel lanes, “between the fog lines,” while the 6-foot-wide bike lanes installed when the road was reconstructed several years ago will get a “fog seal” treatment.

“The fog seal is just oil with no rock,” Schutte said. “The oil sets up in about an hour, then the bikes and cars can drive on it with no tracking.” He said that means the bike lane “will be as smooth as it ever was.”

Schutte said the fog seal treatment is a first for the county, though smaller-sized rock has been used for chip-sealing in the bike lanes for the past decade.

“Due to the condition of the road and number of bicycles that use Skyliners, we figured this (fog seal) would be a better treatment for the bike lanes,” he said.

Schutte said the fog seal treatment fills in cracks and uses a steel drum, rather than rubber tires, to make it smoother.

“We’ve been cognizant of the biking community,” he said. “It’s not like we hate bikers.”

Several of the Reddit commenters also asked why the road was being chip-sealed now, when it appears to still be in good condition. Schutte said that’s preventative maintenance done on a schedule to prevents roads from deteriorating and needing more costly treatment.

“We have to do something with the road,” he said, or cracks and the like will start to emerge.

He said crews also are making sure to “broom” (sweep) the bike lanes nightly while the chip-sealing work is under way, a project expected to be completed early next week: “If they stay in the bike lane, they’ll be fine – no loose rock. The driving lane may be a bit rough.”