A six-member Public Works’ street crew spreads out 450-degree asphalt behind the old 88-Cent store between 6th and 7th Streets.

SUNNYSIDE — A six-member Public Works’ street crew recently completed a three and a half week asphalt overlay project in the downtown alleyways which encompassed about seven dump truck loads or approximately 55 tons of 450-degree blacktop.

From north to south, Franklin to Decatur Avenue and east to west from 5th to 7th streets; the asphalt team began their four-day work week matched with a 10-hour shift at 6:30 a.m. They grinded down about two and a half inches of old and broken up concrete, City Street Supervisor Jaime Alvarez described.

After the backstreet thoroughfares had been prepped, deeper holes where chunks of asphalt had given way were pre-leveled and repaired.

“We went in and did a two-inch overlay above the alleyways. And then we went ahead and sealed everything once we were done. We used about 200 gallons of tack oil which gives it that nice shiny and black look sheen,” Alvarez said.

During his 16-year tenure with the city, the street team leader doesn’t know when the alleys were last refurbished. Alvarez expects the new roadway materials to hold up for seven to 10 years.

“We’re going to make sure that at least every four or five years, we repack them. Because it rejuvenates the oil,” he explained. “Asphalt tends to dry out and that’s why it looks dull after a while. The sun beats down upon it and dries it out as well.”

Alvarez voiced his admiration for how his dedicated team performed the steadfast duties associated with a larger crew.

As daytime temperatures climbed into the mid-90’s, along with the asphalt’s extreme heat to maintain its pliability, personnel pulled together to ensure quality roadwork standards and successfully accomplished the overdue street maintenance.

The momentum created by the completion of the asphalt overlay project has the street division focused on applying new crosswalks with thermal plastic instead of traditional paint.

“It’s a very thick plastic that you melt down which looks good for a whole lot longer than just the white paint,” Alvarez acknowledged.

He pointed out there are downtown crosswalks that run horizontal and some are big square blocks. His goal is to make them all uniform and looking sharp – another public works’ objective they plan to proudly achieve during the productive summer.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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