The City of Kent works with Portage County to participate in the County’s annual chip and seal street program. Chip and seal is historically a more rural solution to upgrade old stone roads at least a couple of steps closer to real pavement so admittedly chip seal is not a great fit for every street in Kent — but it is very economical — so for those streets that could benefit we’ve got them on the County contractor’s list for street repair this month. Here’s more information about that component of the City’s comprehensive street maintenance services.
Chip and seal really is exactly what it sounds like, although technically it probably should be seal and chip since that’s the order of operations. For the non-public works lingoist out there, here’s an abbreviated summary of chip seal.
Pavement Seal Coating (aka Chip Seal)
A seal coat (chip seal) is an application of asphalt cement followed immediately with an aggregate cover. A seal coat consists of either coal tar pitch or asphalt cement mixed with inert fillers, water, emulsifying agents, or additives. Seal coats can waterproof the pavement surface, provide low-severity crack sealing and restore pavement surface friction. Seal coating is utilized on streets with a low to moderate level of traffic volume. Seal coating is a common, inexpensive and effective way of maintaining streets and extending pavement life.
That’s the application and here’s the areas proposed (streets marked in blue) to receive it this month:
Chip Seal Frequently Asked Questions and Some Answers
Can I drive on a freshly paved road? You can drive on chip seal right after it is applied. With asphalt, you may have to wait a few hours before driving on it.
Why do I still have bumps? Chip seal will not fix bumps. Chip seal is a treatment that is designed to seal the existing surface of the street. Bumps and dips that were there before we chip sealed, will still be there after the treatment.
Does the chip seal look and feel different than asphalt? Yes. As you can see in the photo, the chip seal has larger rock pieces than asphalt. This means it is a rougher surface. Chip seal comes in both grey and black, while asphalt is typically black.
Why don’t I get nice smooth asphalt on my street? We are spreading our limited resources throughout the City to keep all the pavement in good condition.
Why are we using chip seal instead of asphalt? To stretch limited City dollars and focus on pavement preservation. Chip seal costs much less than asphalt ($1.50 per square yard for chip seal, compared with $12.00 for asphalt). Chip seal works best to preserve pavement that is in good condition. We typically use asphalt on streets that are in fair to poor condition.
How do you decide whether to apply chip seal or asphalt? Every year we evaluate the condition of the pavement on Kent streets, and decide on treatments based on conditions and available funding. We maintain a 3- to 5-year list of pavement projects.