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Gravel versus repaving

I’ve noticed several roads that get repaved during the summer, but not all of them get the full tar treatment, some of them have stone poured over top of the tar and left to settle.

Is there any specific reason some counties do this to their roads(even a state route got the gravel treatment recently)? To me, it seems like it doesn’t really do anything except make for tons more road noise while driving.

My guess: two reasons:

  1. cost
  2. upgrade compliance costs.

It’s way cheaper than paving, and if the “class” of road were upgraded with paving an entire new base would probably need to be put in, perhaps complete with new berms, runoff, environmental impact studies (can’t elininate some poor bird’s nest, now can we?), grading, all kinds of millions of dolars worth of stuff.

I’m just guessing, however. I’ve never worked on roads.

There is paving, and there is “oil and chip,” aka “seal coat.”

Asphalt paving is VERY expensive. Many municipalities will use a “seal coat” to extend the life of their roads. It’s a band-aid. They do it because they can’t afford to pave the roads, or they’re trying to extend the live of the road for a few years at minimal cost.

When a “seal coat,” or “oil and chip” is applied to a road an asphalt emulsion or cutback (don’t ask), depending on the time of year, is sprayed on the road, and a layer of stone is spread on top of it. Then the stone is rolled into the oil with a motorized roller. The theory is that the emulsion (or cutback) will seal the existing roadway and also bind the stone, or at least some of it, to the road.

Works great on paper.

Water is the enemy of asphalt pavement, and the idea of sealing the road surface so water can’t penetrate it is behind the whole “oil and chip,” or “seal coat,” process. The liquid asphalt emulsion, or cutback, is the sealant. The stone is just there to keep you from driving through liquid asphalt and getting it all over your vehicle.

They also hope some of the stone will adhere, which it does, and provide a friction course. If the road were just sealed with liquid asphalt it would be VERY slippery when wet.

This may or may not work, as I’m sure you’ve discovered. Most of the stone won’t stick, and will end up along the edges of the road, or in your front yard.

The noise will abate as the stone wears off.

Now, if only they’d do even THAT on the Navajo reservation roads we might actually advance into the 20th century.

There are times when states of emergency must be declared due to the length of time the roads are impassable. Other times when the time of day must be used to one’s advantage when the mud is frozen.

Chip and tar has a number of advantages- it’s orders of magnitude cheaper to apply, far more surface can be done in a single day than asphalt and you get a shoulder for free once the over applied stone migrates to the sides.

Unfortunately, for the drivers on the road, it has nothing but disadvantages- stone chips, tar flung up on the undercarriage and body and increased road noise (which by the way also affects homeowners along the roadway).

The worst by far was one day I took one of my prized cars to work and returned to find they had sealed and applied the stone to 5 miles of the road that goes by my house. I had to drive 2mph and then clean the whole car, including the undercarriage of tar. Think they could have posted a warning sign the day before?

The Fire Rock Casino should go a long way towards paving your roads if that’s what the Nation wants to do with the profits.

My dad told me stories about making annual trips from northern Illinois to southern Minnesota every summer in the early 1920’s. A super highway had one paved lane–when you met a car, one car or the other pulled out of the way. A good road was gravel. An ordinary road was just a dirt trail. I think that on the ordinary roads they averaged about 20-25 mph in the Model T. The “super highway” would let them average about 35 mph. In this time period, they would have welcomed the “chip and oil” paving. I rode to school in the late 1940’s through the early 1950’s on mostly gravel roads. After these gravel roads got the “chip and oil” paving, we thought it was wonderful–there wasn’t the dust as there was on the gravel roads.

I guess all is relative.

Let’s hope. But first they’ll pay back the loans that built the place ( only six miles to my east ), then there’s all the typical in-fighting within the council concernig the direction of funds. Additionally, theres talk of building a second casino to my west, again on I40, about the Sanders/Chambers AZ area.

Maybe someday.

It takes atleast a week or two to get all the loose stone off the road, even on a truck route like 95(the state highway that made me ask this question) out of Marion.
The route in question had the whole road “touched up” with the chip and tar. Whats even worse is when they just seal the cracks in the road and stone over it, makes for a pretty bumpy ride once everything has settled.

Chip sealing works great on secondary roads. With trillion dollar budget deficits, maintaining the millions of miles of paved road in this country will become impossible. Many county roads will revert to dirt as the money to maintain pavement runs out…

Federal highways start off with distinct advantage with a base preparation far superior to secondary roads, which for all practical purposes is non existent in some areas. If is really a “wast of money” to pave roads with a poor base that will get heavy traffic. Unfortunately, the most economical way to deal with these roads is frequent “temporary resurfacing” whether it be gravel or tar. State and local roads fall into such a variety catagories as far as base preparedness is concerned, it’s hard for the average citizen to understand why one road gets one treatment and another road with seemingly the similar traffic gets another. Who got what and when for road funds during initial construction or reconstruction, goes a long way to explain who has the better ride.

Another factor; we live in a state where you can drill a well anywhere (not really, an exaggeration) and get clean fresh water. What does that say about the cost of road maintenance, when winter frost works it’s yearly magic ? Base preparation is even more important and road resurfacing becomes more variable.