Saturday, August 22, 2015

Extreme pavement makeover

We are deep into chip-seal season again, here in Ada County.  And it's official - they've put gravel down on every road that I ride.  (Well, not really, but it sure seems like it.)

The chip-seal is a surface coating for area roads, that's more economical than other options.  First they prep the road by sealing cracks, etc., and sweeping it.  Then they lay down a thick coating of sticky, gooey stuff, and drop gravel on it.  Then they turn traffic loose on it for a week or two.  The gooey stuff hardens with the gravel - "chips" - glued into place.  It's kinda like peanut brittle for pavement.  Once it's set up, they sweep off the excess gravel, and put another surface coating of the gooey stuff on.  Generally, that keeps the road in pretty good shape for seven years or so, when they repeat the process.

Obviously, us skinny-tire cyclists would prefer glass-smooth asphalt.  But us taxpayers appreciate the notion of going the least-expensive route.  And once the process is completed, the finished product is tolerable.  In fact, it's pretty good on the roads that are designated as "bike routes," because they use small-caliper 1/4" gravel, which makes for a smooth surface.

I may have discovered an experimental treatment.  In between the gravel and the final coating, lay down a squirrel here and there, for an even smoother final product!  (Noticed and snapped right at the end of my street.)  But based on early wear, I don't think the squirrel will prove to be durable.

1 comment:

Clancy Anderson said...

Nice... I found it interesting that a smaller material is used on streets like 11th while a more robust material is used everywhere else.