Good Question

May 1, 2013 11:46 PM by John Reger

GQ: What is chip sealing?

People in Santa Maria are being told their vehicles could be damaged if they don't steer clear of a major "chip seal project" covering many streets. That got Joanne Larson from Santa Maria wondering: What is chip seal and how much does it cost? Good questions.

The city's principal engineer says chip sealing protects and extends the life of pavement. First the surface is patched and any cracks are filled. Then a truck sprays down a thick polymer oil over it. Another truck follows behind spreading around a thin layer of gravel chips.

Heavy rollers press the chips into the oil and excess chips are swept away. Two days later another sealing coat of oil is sprayed over everything. 27 street areas will be treated at a cost of $600,000.

Enough chips will be applied to cover 30 miles of a single lane roadway. The spraying will be finished next week, and new striping will be done in a couple more.

Bicylists complained about the rough road after a recent chip seal project near Cambria, but Santa Maria engineers say they've chip-sealed many streets before without complaint.

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