The recent asphalt that you mentioned was placed as a leveling coarse that restores the roadway to its original typical section by restoring the crown and removing ruts. Typically this layer averages one inch in depth and adds no structural value to the road. Since we experience crack propagation of about an inch a year and the surface under the leveling coarse was cracked and in need of a surface treatment, the district will typically level a roadway one year prior to sealing it.
†Now, about a year later, the plan is to apply a seal coat to keep water out of the pavement and extend the life of the road by as much as five to seven years. In some cases eliminating the ruts and imperfections from a road surface by applying a leveling coarse that restores the crown and sealing the road the following year can extend the life of the road by as much as 10 years.
Since the department is having issues with funding due to the fuel tax remaining relatively flat while construction cost has skyrocketed, these preservation practices are considered essential in keeping the highway system in a reasonable state of repair. I have discussed this section of highway with the District Engineer in Harrison and understand what he is trying to accomplish by doing this work. The seal coat is not planned to cover the area that the high friction surface treatment was applied. This location will be skipped over since the surface treatment has the same benefits of sealing water out as does the chip seal that is planned for the route.
I hope this explains what our thoughts and intentions are. This is just one of several programs that were developed to reduce the negative effects of weather, deterioration of roadway elements, traffic wear on surfaces and other types of damage that effects a roadway surface. If we fail to preserve the highway system what we have learned is poorly maintained roads constrain mobility, significantly raise vehicle operating cost, increases accident rates and their associated human and property cost.
While we wish that we could overlay every route that needed it with hot mix asphalt, the truth of the matter is, we donít have the funds to do so. We really donít have enough funds to treat all the roads that need it as we are planning to do on Highway 23. We will however, do all the we can do to keep what we do have in a state of good repair.
ó Joe Sartini
Arkansas Department of Transportation