If you walk or drive around town, you may have noticed Redwood Falls’ streets are multi-colored.
On some streets the pavement has a reddish tinge, while others are the standard grey.
“From an airplane, the town looks like a checkerboard,” joked Mayor Gary Revier last week.
The differences aren’t just aesthetic. There are real differences in cost and quality between the two colors.
“Traditionally we used to get all our chips for seal coating from the Morton quarry,” said Jim Doering, project manager for the city. “The Morton gneiss has that bluish-gray color.”
However, in recent years the economics have changed.
“To get the granite in the quantities we want, we’d have to order it a year in advance, and we’d probably have to do a joint order with another entity, like the county,” Doering said.
In recent years, the city has instead ordered granite from a quarry near Sanborn and the Jeffers Petroglyphs.
The reddish gneiss from near the petroglyphs has to be crushed to an average of 7/32 to 3/8 of an inch across to be suitable for seal coating streets.
As it happens, the red granite also shapes better, and provides greater traction for vehicles driving on it.
Every year the city streets department seal coats about 1/5 of the streets in town to provide waterproofing and general maintenance.
Why one-fifth? Because the seal coating, on average, has a five year life span.
Last year, because of the July windstorm, the city crews are behind on seal coating, so some streets will have to go an extra year before being upgraded.
Every year, the city goes through about 40,000 square yards of oil and granite chips seal coating streets. In 2010, the last year it was done, the cost for materials came to about $130,000, according to city finance director Missi Meyer.
Because the red granite is less expensive and gives a better seal coat, a large chunk of Redwood will become redder this summer.
When the city begins seal coating soon, the streets south of E. Broadway and west of Mill St. will all become red streets.
“It just makes for a better road,”?Doering said. “We’re very happy with the red granite. It just makes for a better road.”