Engineer Anthony Gianforcaro spoke at length with the board on Thursday night, discussing the need to replace a track that is wearing down and has not hosted a home track meet recently.
“What’s happening is, the wearing surface (the top layer of the track) in a lot of areas is worn, and you’re starting to see not only the de-coloration of it, but you’re also seeing the middle layer, which is the black rubberized surface,” said Gianforcaro.
Gianforcaro explained that the current track is what’s called a “sandwich system,” which has an asphalt base covered by a black, rubberized service in the middle that is spread thinly over the asphalt layer. On top of that is a colored “wearing surface” which gives the track its abrasive texture.
In several spots, the top layer is wearing down and exposing the lower layers of the track, which could lead to the bottom layer—the asphalt base—cracking. Gianforcaro recommended a complete replacement of the top two layers, estimated at a cost of $150,000 to $200,000. This, however, would prevent the asphalt base from cracking. If that happened, the school district could pay upwards of $300,000 to have the entire track replaced.
“The middle layer is actually de-laminating, it’s actually coming off of the track. In a couple areas, I can stick my finger up and almost peel it off,” said Gianforcaro. “There’s no reason right now to re-construct the entire three layers . There are currently no large cracks coming through that indicate asphalt has failed.”
As long as the top two layers of the track are replaced, Gianforcaro stated that the life of the track should be lengthened. Athletic tracks commonly have a shelf life of at least 10 to 12 years, he said.
“What you could do is, over a course of years, re-coat (the top layer),” said Gianforcaro. “Sometimes if you re-coat, you’ll get a little more life out of it. At this point, I think it’s the de-lamination (of the second layer) that’s creating the need.”
The district does have the option of replacing worn parts of the track piece by piece, but Gianforcaro warned that doing so could cost more money down the road. Not only would the district eventually have to replace the entire track anyway, but it will have spent a large amount of money to patch up afflicted portions of the track.
“My concern with that is you would be investing money to patch certain areas, and since we’re seeing de-lamination in several areas, you’d be throwing more money out,” said Gianforcaro. “There are going to be certain areas that are cured of this failure and, based on the age of the track, over the years you’re just going to be doing it again and again and again.”
Gianforcaro is optimistic that the project bid will be contracted to a company quickly by mid-spring. This would be important if the district wants to begin the project immediately following the end of the school year.
“It’s probably a good four-to-five-week project, so we’d want to get started as soon as school’s out,” said Gianforcaro.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the engineer's name improperly as Anthony Caroll.