FAIRFIELD — The town’s residents might not always appreciate the ways Public Works Superintendent Scott Bartlett stretches his budget to get the most out of the paving account, but an international organization does.
Bartlett was given an award for “Excellence in Paving Preservation” for North America for 2017 from the International Slurry Surfacing Association.
“It’s given for 2017, but it’s based on the work we did in 2016,” Bartlett said. “Essentially, they evaluate your program and what you’re doing for your local roadways, and they see whether you’re trying different programs to protect your asphalt and stretch your tax dollars.”
These days, Bartlett said, you no longer wait until a road deteriorates and needs to be repaved. Instead, he said, you want to catch a road before it gets too bad and needs to be rebuilt. Rebuilding a road, rather than using different types of sealants to maintain the pavement, obviously costs more, Bartlett said.
Barlett’s efforts to plan ahead is what helped him snag the attention of the International Slurry Surfacing Association. “They looked at our history for the past few years,” he said. Fairfield owns 288 miles of infrastructure to maintain.
“The new model says to stay current, you have to put in that same amount of mileage in maintenance,” Bartlett said. That investment is determined by the different processes. For example, if a particular sealant process lasts five years and you put that sealant on five miles of roadway, that is equal to 25 miles of maintenance, Bartlett explained.
If he were to simply maintain the 288 miles by paving, it would cost about $8 million annually. Instead — although his budget was ultimately cut — Bartlett sought $3 million to maintain that same 288 miles via the different sealing processes.
The award, Bartlett said, recognizes “that we did a great job at maintaining our investment in our infrastructure.”
With an eye toward keeping roads maintained, he said, residents are getting better streets — though they may be inconvenienced more often.
“But usually,” Bartlett said, “we’ll do one street and the people two streets over will start calling and wanting to know when we’re going to do their street.”
“It is very appropriate that Scott Bartlett receives this award and recognition,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said. “Scott’s skill and expertise have saved the town of Fairfield millions of dollars over the years. People don’t always see paving as a cost saver. Scott has done more with less each year.”
Bartlett’s boss, DPW Director Joseph Michelangelo, said Bartlett has been on the forefront of using different processes to extend the life of the roads.
“Even though everybody loves the blacktop — and it looks good — it only lasts 12 to 14 years,” Michelangelo said. “That’s unsustainable. We have to do our roads and keep stretching the dollar.”