Bellefontaine Examiner

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Chip sealing key option for preserving county’s roads

Road construction projects are a pain for motorists, and chip sealing projects can be some of the most aggravating.

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Highway crews with the Logan Engineer’s Office lay gravel Thursday over asphalt tar on County Road 1. A roller followed behind to press the gravel into the tar. Chip sealing is, according to Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman, the most cost effective and best way to prolong the life of county roadways. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

Vehicle owners fear chipped paint and skidding at stop signs because of loose stones and speckles of tar flung onto their machines’ paint jobs.

But improved methods of application, better materials and slower speeds through work zones can mitigate the problems.

Highway crews with the Logan County Engineer’s Office will chip seal 34 miles of county roadways this year.

Engineer Scott Coleman said it is the best bargain for the county and its taxpayers for maintaining its road system.

“It is one of the best preservation methods available to us,” he said, noting it costs just under $13,000 to cover a mile of 18-foot wide county road as compared to $116,000 for hot mix asphalt.

Mr. Coleman said the latest asphalt tar sets up quicker and holds the crushed stone better than products used just a few years ago.

It also helps to use a roller right after the gravel goes down.

“I haven’t heard much complaining about county roads 91 and 38 which we did about three weeks ago,” he said. “I just traveled on those roads Tuesday and there is very little loose stone. County Road 11 was done during the fair and it is really settled down.”

Hot mix asphalt is used to build road bases, but its life span is about 10 years, while chip sealing is about five years.

However, it is so much cheaper that the county can chip seal a road four times for less cost, thereby extending the roadway’s life to 25 years, Mr. Coleman contends.

Chip sealing waterproofs the pavement to prevent cracking from freezing and thawing, and increases the traction once it is settled in.

Mr. Coleman said motorists traveling through chip seal zones can help avoid paint chips and tar splatter by slowing down, especially as the project is under way and for the week or so after.

County crews sweep immediately after application and then a week later to reduce the amount of loose stone.

Traveling slower and following directions of a flagger reduces the chances of traveling through wet tar and splattering a vehicle. Once the stone is applied, the wet tar is covered, he said.

Slower travel also helps improve stopping distances at intersections where loose stone can accumulate.

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