Chip Seal 101

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Chip Seal 101

Preliminary Road Preparation

  • If needed, roads will be prepared by repairing potholes, sealing cracks and pre-leveling rough surfaces. Crews will, if needed, prepare road shoulders by removing excess debris and vegetation to ensure the chip seal treatment covers the entire road surface and water can flow off the street.
  • Brush cutting, road sweeping, and other preparation work takes place prior to the chip seal placement.

Chip Seal Placement

  • A layer of asphalt oil (chip binder) is applied to the road when weather is sufficiently warm and dry.
  • This step is immediately followed by a layer of crushed rock, creating a “chip seal.”
  • The chips are pressed into place by a roller and the road is immediately usable. However, the compaction and adherence of chips to the asphalt binder improves with time. Slow traffic is recommended.
  • Crews will return within a week to sweep up loose gravel.
  • Crews will then return again and apply another layer of asphalt oil, known as the fog seal, which will seal the surface and make the surface black.
  • After a specified cure time, crews will then return again to stripe the roads and replace pavement markings.

During Construction

  • During construction roads will remain open, but will be reduced to one lane.
  • Roads will be open to all traffic at the end of each work day.
  • Reduced speed limits will be posted where necessary during and after the chip seal work.
  • Adhering to this temporary reduced speed limit will minimize the likelihood of loose chips and possible damage to a vehicle’s body or windshield. Faster speeds and turning movements may compromise the resulting quality and life expectancy of the new road surface.
  • Crews will post signs in each neighborhood before work is expected to begin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why chip seal? 

Chip seal is a cost-effective method to preserve pavement that is in good condition, compared to asphalt. Asphalt is typically used on streets that are in fair to poor condition. The treatment selection is part of the City’s Pavement Management Program, which assesses and prioritizes treatment of City streets. This system is designed with a more cost-effective approach, recognizing it is better to treat streets with lower-cost, preventative treatments than to wait until the street condition deteriorates to the point that major rehabilitation or reconstruction is required.

Does chip seal look and feel different than asphalt?

Yes, chip seal has larger rock pieces than asphalt making it a rougher surface. Chip seal comes in both grey and black, while asphalt is typically black. Chip seal also smooths out over time as vehicles drive on it. Eventually, it will look and feel similar to asphalt.

Will there be loose rock that needs to be swept up?

Yes, chip seal process generates excess rock that will be swept up.