Chip Seal Roads
About half the roads in Clay County are a chip seal surface. Chip seal has a proven track record and has been used for many years in nearly every part of the world to provide an attractive hard road surface. The chip seal surface is durable and requires infrequent maintenance. The gritty surface of a chip seal road gives traction in wet or snowy weather. The light-colored stone surface of a chip seal road does not absorb heat like blacktop does and so stays much cooler. The actual life of the surface varies based on traffic volume, weather conditions, and even the type of soil under the road.
When a chip seal road needs to be resurfaced, the first step will be to prepare the road base for the new surface in a process called reclaiming. The surface is ground up and additional rock is incorporated and rolled in to make the roadbed firmer. Vehicle traffic for several weeks on the reclaimed roadbed helps with compaction and assures that the road will hold up under traffic loads for a longer time.
The application of the new chip seal surface is a two-step process that takes 24-48 hours to complete. In the first step, a computer-controlled distributor truck equipped with spray bars applies a precise amount of heated primer oil. Using primer helps the sealer coat bond to the roadway. While the primer coat is on the roadway, the surface should be protected as much as possible – vehicles should drive under 5 mph and avoid driving on the roadway whenever possible. Grass clippings and other debris should be kept off the surface.
After the primer has cured, the second step begins. Using the same computer-controlled distributor truck, a layer of heated sealer oil is applied to the road. Clean, crushed rock chips are spread on the surface to adhere to the seal coat. Finally, a roller is used to embed the stone into the surface. The result is a hard, smooth road that is mostly oil-free.
As with all road work, please avoid roads when work is being done. Less traffic on the road is better for the new road surface and allows the Highway Department crew to work safely and efficiently.
In hot weather, the oil may rise to the surface of a chip seal road and “bleed.” If this occurs, contact the Highway Department to request that rock chips be added as a blotter.