Why do we seal roads?

Water on the road causes many problems for roading engineers and road users alike. Water causes the surface to fail and then break up, causing potholes. The main purpose is to seal the road so that water does not penetrate underlying layers.

It is a costly process as well, therefor engineers and maintenance staff want to maximise the life span for a road.

We do most of the reseal and maintenance work over summer, when it is hotter and dryer, making the seal stick better.

Why is it important for you as driver to know this? Firstly, to understand the impact driver behavior has on the lifespan of a road. Burnouts and excessive breaking or acceleration, tracked machinery, Overloaded trucks, or deep treaded vehicles, for example tractors, may also cause damage to the top layer, reducing skid resistance and put the waterproof layer at risk of failing.

Why do we leave loose chip on reseals after completions?

Not to annoy motorists or to slow them down, but to ensure the bitumen (tar) has a good uptake of chip, which in turn means a longer-lived surface that should not “bleed” tracking bitumen into your property and elsewhere.

How can I drive safely on a newly sealed surface?

·         Obey all signage and contractor instructions – (yes there are occasions when they get it wrong), but in most cases they are spot on.

·         Continue to treat the newly surfaced road with respect. After signs are removed, low traffic volume roads can see migration of chip for some time.

·         Keep speed down and allow extra travel time (especially to work!). At speeds above 30km/h, the loose chip lifted by vehicles wheels, could damage windscreens and paint of vehicles. 

A new sealed street in town?

·         Make sure everyone; including visitors remove shoes when entering your house, tracked bitumen is hard to clean up!

·         Increase your following distance, as it may take longer to stop.

·         Ensure a more careful/slower approach to intersections so you can stop in time and not skid into intersections.

The better we treat our new seals after construction the safer the community will be, and the longer the seals will last. Increasing the life of the seal  and reducing costs for ratepayers and road users in the long term.

Safer Journeys!

Daniel Naudé

Road Safety Coordinator