WINTERSVILLE - Jefferson County Engineer's Department highway crews will be chipping and sealing about 60 miles of county and township roads this summer thanks to a new $100,000 chip spreader.
Andy Bryan, chief deputy engineer, said the county will be chipping and sealing more roads this summer than in the past two years because the old chip spreader always was breaking down. The county engineer's office traded in the old chip spreader on a new model that allows county crews to chip and seal about three miles of road a day.
The county has about 150 miles of county roads that are chipped and sealed. Bryan said the chip and seal is preventative maintenance that lasts about four years. The county in the 1990s and early 2000s put about 2 to 3 inches of cold-mix asphalt on roads and then the road was chipped and sealed.
NEW CHIP SEALER — Jefferson County Engineer’s Department highway crews have been taking advantage of the hot, dry weather and a new piece of equipment to chip and seal roads this summer. The new chip sealer recently was used to chip and seal Raymond Road in Cross Creek Township. Crew leader Doug Howell directs the chip sealer along the road.
County Engineer James Branagan said chipping and sealing a road helps prevent water from getting down into the road and causing potholes.
The county has about 110 miles of hot-mix asphalt, and Bryan said the hot-mix roads have a life of about 12 years.
An oil emulsion is sprayed on the road with a truck. The chip spreader follows behind and evenly drops gravel. Rollers follow behind to push the gravel into the emulsion, and a broom truck brushes the road the following day.
Vehicles can drive on the road immediately but Bryan said it takes about 30 days for the asphalt binder in the emulsion to completely adhere to the gravel.
Bryan said the asphalt binder in the emulsion works best in hot weather, allowing the gravel to stick to the road. He said the mix also works best when the gravel is dry.
Branagan said the hot weather has been good for chipping and sealing but it is hard on county engineer department workers.
"We really appreciate the work they do," Branagan said.
Bryan said county crews go out to a road about to be chipped and sealed and level off uneven sections of road with cold-mix asphalt. Ditches and culverts are cleaned prior to chipping and sealing, he added.
The county this year has gone to natural gravel at $8 a ton versus $16 a ton for limestone that was used in past years, Bryan said.
He noted Carroll County has been using gravel in its chip-and-seal program.
"We went to Carroll County to look at their roads and they have been really successful," he said.
It costs the county about $13,779 a mile to chip and seal a road. Bryan said hot-mix paving can cost upwards of $120,000 a mile.
The county crew consists of a supervisor, five equipment operators, four truck drivers, two flagmen and two laborers. The labor cost per mile is $5,800. Equipment costs are $2,750 per mile, and gravel and emulsion costs $10,929 per mile.
Bryan said the county crews started chip sealing in June for the first time in years.
He said crews in the past spent the early part of the summer fixing and replacing culverts and doing base repairs. But the county has replaced nearly all the culverts on county roads and made necessary road base repairs and that has freed up a crew for chip sealing.
Bryan said the county used to start chip sealing in August but were forced to shut down by the middle of September because of cooler weather.
The new chip sealer applies an even coat of gravel at the desired rate, regardless of how fast the machine is moving, Bryan said. He said the county has a recipe for how much emulsion and gravel is used on each road, and he said the crews supervisor can make changes as needed based on the condition of the road.
The county also does about two to three miles of chip sealing for townships. Roads are being chip sealed this summer in Knox, Salem, Cross Creek, Wells and Smithfield townships. The condition of the old chip spreader limited the amount of work the county could do for the townships, Bryan said.
"Everything is working really well so far," Bryan said.