The parking lot at Central Park is closed this week as the City of Merritt puts a bit of the Coquihalla highway into the lot.

Public Works Superintendent Darrell Finnigan told the Herald the City of Merritt began working on the Central Park parking lot on Friday and will continue to do so all this week.

The city is placing recycled asphalt grindings from the Coquihalla highway combined with reclamite, a preservative seal, which Finnigan said activates the oils in the old asphalt grindings to help bind together again and pack down.

Finnigan told the Herald when a highway is repaved, one method used is to grind off the top few inches before repaving, and that is where these grindings come from.

These grindings are then run through a paver and laid down on the parking lot along with the reclamite. When packed down, it creates a hard surface similar to pavement, Finnigan said.

Starting today, dumptrucks are hauling the asphalt grindings to the parking lot and laying on the reclamite on Wednesday or Thursday. After that they will apply a layer of sand and repack the surface to fill any holes.

“We have to shut the parking lot down because we can’t have people trying to drive around us, working in there,” Finnigan said.

Finnigan said the city is trying to improve the on the gravel lot and eliminate the dust emitted from the area.

“We’re eliminating the dust, we’re trying to make the drainage proper so there aren’t big puddles, and for appearance,” Finnigan said.

He said the city opted not to pave the lot because this option is more cost-effective. He said the city will be applying the recycled asphalt grindings for about $70,000 whereas paving the lot would’ve cost them about $140,000.

The city is buying the material from the provincial government and it will look similar to pavement, though they may not be able to paint lines for parking spots.

“It won’t be a perfect, smooth surface like brand new asphalt,” Finnigan said, noting the ability to paint stall lines will depend on how the finish comes out.

The city hopes to reopen the Central Park parking lot this Friday, but it may stay closed for the weekend.