The process you are referring to is sealcoating. It is a relatively low cost method of preserving existing low-volume pavements. This “seal” prevents water from freezing in the cracks and breaking up the pavement. A sealcoat offers the best protection for the least amount of money, and makes a road last longer. The tar is actually an emulsion of water and liquid asphalt which penetrates and seals small cracks in the existing pavement. Sealing these cracks on a regular basis prevents water from seeping into and softening the base of the road and over time causing potholes to form. The peastone that we use for cover material sticks to the emulsion and, after rolling and sweeping, provides a slightly roughened skid resistant surface to improve safety. Although sealcoating can preserve and extend the life of the pavement, it is only a surface treatment and does not fill any existing bumps, holes, or irregularities and thus does not improve the ride quality. For this reason it is important to apply sealcoat to a road BEFORE this deterioration occurs, which leads us to sealcoat roads that are in generally good condition rather than waiting for them to deteriorate to the point that extensive patching is necessary.
There is a downside, however, as vehicles travel over the new surface small rocks may come loose under the tires. When a motorist encounters a newly chip sealed road, which will be marked with “Loose Gravel” signs, the best preventative is to reduce the vehicle speed and keep plenty of distance from any vehicle in front of them.
You should call our office directly at (517) 546-4250. We respond as quickly as we can. Many times road grading has to be postponed because of the weather. If the road is too dry or too wet grading has little affect other that to re-arrange dust or mud.
In the summer, roads are always graded prior to having chloride applied. In addition, we try to blade gravel roads after it rains and the road has softened up. In the winter, there is not much we can do until the frost is out of the roads.
Dust control operations and policies vary from county to county. In Livingston County, the number and type of applications are jointly decided by the road commission and townships. In addition, townships share the costs of dust control with the road commission.
We can try, and we do try, but, in the spring when the frost comes out of the roadbed, what was once frozen and solid turns soft and unstable. It will remain this way until the moisture comes out of the roadbed. The best cure for this is warm, dry temperatures and a good wind. If we attempt to haul gravel on top of this condition, it could turn it into a bigger mess. There is a saying in the trade that “adding a bucket of gravel to a bucket of mud just gets you a bigger bucket of mud.” There is much truth to this quip, as adding sand or gravel to fill a mud hole usually has little or no effect because the gravel ends up mixing with the mud, just making more mud and sometimes aggravating the problem as equipment stirs things up.