Chip-sealing causes delays on U.S. Highway 40

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Clark resident Jim McDowell was angry when his son, Chris, arrived late to pick him up from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

But Chris had a good excuse.

While driving to Hayden, he encountered a surprise delay from a chip-seal highway-resurfacing project on U.S. Highway 40. The project, being done by Intermountain Slurry Seal of Salt Lake City, Utah, is causing six- to 10-minute traffic delays, flagger Kelly Watson said.

The project, which began Monday, involves tarring, spreading tiny granite pebbles and sealing them onto a 23-mile stretch of U.S. 40, from Steamboat Springs to Hayden.

Chip-sealing the highway prolongs the life of the asphalt by filling in or covering holes and cracks, thereby making it smoother, said Rusty Price, operations manager for Intermountain Slurry Seal.

The spreading and smoothing of the rocks will be complete Aug. 8, and the sealing will begin Aug. 14, with the goal of being finished by Aug. 19, Price said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation requires a five-day waiting period between spreading and sealing the rocks to allow water to evaporate out of the tar emulsion under the rocks, CDOT Project Manager John Bouldin said.

To complete the project, new stripes will have to be painted on the road. The old stripes have been covered by the tar, so plastic reflective tabs have to be set up as temporary markers for the middle and sides of the road.

CDOT officials encourage driving slowly and carefully through the work zone to avoid kicking up rocks and damaging other vehicles or breaking windshields.

Chip-sealing is seven to 10 times cheaper than an asphalt overlay, Price said. Asphalt overlays cost about $8 to $10 per square yard, whereas chip-seal overlays cost about $1 per square yard.

How often a road needs to be resurfaced depends on the amount of traffic. The stretch of U.S. 40 from Steamboat to Hayden was last chip-sealed in 1998; the need to resurface it five years later is the result of the "tremendous amount of traffic" it carries, Bouldin said.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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