City develops plan for paving dirt streets in Farmington

Public works director presents 5-year plan at council meeting

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
East Monroe Road in Farmington is one of several roads in the city that have been paved using recycled asphalt.
  • Farmington is using recycled asphalt to pave streets.
  • Several streets in the city already have been paved using the cold milling method.

FARMINGTON — Farmington officials have plans to pave dozens of dirt roads using asphalt removed from other streets during resurfacing projects.

The city currently maintains 19 miles of dirt or gravel roads within its limits. During a City Council workshop Tuesday morning, public works director David Sypher said the average cost of maintaining each dirt road is about $28,000 a year. He said that includes grading and rolling the roads.

But many of those roads could be upgraded, thanks to a byproduct of the city's maintenance work on paved roads. Sypher said the city grinds the surface pavement of existing roads during those operations.

“When we get these grindings, we have a mountain of asphalt product that is actually of value,” Sypher said.

That asphalt can be melted and used to pave new roads in a process called cold milling. Sypher presented a five-year plan to the City Council for using cold milled pavement to pave dirt roads. While the plan is for five years, Sypher said the city could have most of its dirt roads paved within 20 years.

“So, really, what we’re doing is, when we tear up an old street, we take that old asphalt and repurpose it?” Councilor Sean Sharer asked.

“That’s correct,” Sypher said. “It’s a recycled product.”

Mayor Nate Duckett said the plan is something he has been looking forward to for a long time.

The intersection of East Monroe Road and South Valentine Road is pictured on Tuesday in Farmington. Both roads recently were paved using recycled asphalt.

“I know the four years that I served as councilor for District 4, we had a lot of conversations about the paving of dirt roads and many community meetings,” he said.

Using the repurposing method, it will cost $170,500 to pave each mile of a 24-foot wide road. Sypher said investing that money into the unpaved roads will ultimately lead to savings. He anticipates that the pavement will pay for itself in a little more than six years, and it should last 10 years. After the pavement is in place, it will receive the same standard maintenance as any other paved street in Farmington.

Sypher said the department believes it can pave 1 mile of street every year.

“All 19 miles are not going to end up being candidates,” Sypher said.

He said some of the streets that are unpaved may remain unpaved because the city does not have the right of way requirements to pave them. He said the city also will not pave streets that residents do not want paved. Sypher said at least 51 percent of the property owners on the road must consent to having it paved. Another thing that could stop a street from being paved is how steep it is.

“Cold mill application does not work on a real steep grade,” Sypher said.

Over the past few years, several unpaved streets in Farmington have been paved using the cold milled pavement. The process also has been used in parking lots in Farmington.

Sypher highlighted several of the streets during the council meeting. Those streets include Harper Hill Road, American Street, West Comanche Street, Jeffery Drive, Almen Drive, Monroe Loop, Monroe Road, River Road, Valentine Road and Service Street. 

“You can see there’s really a great improvement to a lot of these,” Sypher said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at