PennDOT Turns To Seal Coating To Resurface Local Roads

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The old surface of Route 837 in Dravosburg was easily giving way to PennDOT’s milling machine Tuesday in preparation for fresh asphalt on Wednesday.

It’s a process that has become the exception.

“Seal coat is an essential tool in our tool box,” PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna said.

This has become the rule and was once referred to as tar-and-chipping.

“The reality is right now, we are very limited in our resources in all of our counties,” Cessna said.

One advantage with seal coating is that it is very cost effective.

“It costs about $11,000 per mile to sealcoat a roadway and it can cost upward of [$500,000] to resurface that roadway,” Cessna said.

This year in Allegheny Beaver and Lawrence Counties, 39 miles of road will be repaved, while 278 miles are seal coated.

If you do the math, that’s $18.5 million in paving and just over $3 million in seal coating.

However, seal coating on lesser traveled roads would have happened anyway.

“We are, however, sealing some higher volume roadways where the preferred treatment would be an asphalt resurfacing,” Cessna said.

Places like Ferguson, and Babcock Roads have already been treated. Montour Run, Beaver Grade, Fox Chapel and Church Hollow are on the list of 77 that will get a seal coat finish.

“If we don’t do something to the roadways, it’s simply going to turn into potholes,” Cessna said.

Despite rolling the gravel into the oil, there is still an initial day or two of loose gravel. PennDOT sweeps, but they can’t get all the loose material.

“The reality is there is still damage that occurs each day to motorists’ windows and things like that,” Cessna said.

To avoid damage to your car, PennDOT suggests slowing down and leaving more distance between you and the car in front of you for the first couple of days after your road is seal coated.


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  • JustSaying

    Seal coating is still tar and chip. They changed the name to make it sound like a more legitimate road treatment. At best it’s a VERY temporary road treatment, at worst it’s the cause of many paint chips on vehicles and can be an EXTREME hazard to motorcyclists. Any positive effects of this road treatment are short lived. I’m sure it looks good on paper but real world experience with this is less than stellar. I get that budgets are tight and they’re trying to make the best of a bad situation but there has to be a better way.

  • A.Bunker

    penndot sux

    • Big Daddy Kahuna

      Yeah, I kinda agree with ya Arch.

      On another note, we need to stop salting the hell out of the roads in the winter. The maniacs in SW PA just need to slow it down a bit!

  • Paul C.

    Yep. let’s ignore wasteful PennDOT spending, put a band-aid fix on the road that’s going to damage thousands of motorists’ cars and make them pay to repair them. Last year I wrecked near Moon on a tar and chipped road, was doing everything they said, driving slow, actually going under the speed limit when I could without holding up other motorists. Came around a blind curve and one of their trucks had dumped “chips” on the road that were laying loose, it felt like I was driving on ice. At that point there’s nothing you can do except try to avoid other cars and try and point the car towards to softest impact spot. Thank GOD there was no one else on the road. Even the officer that stopped at the scene said that it was a hazard, but a week later I drove through the same area and noticed that there was STILL an excessive amount of gravel laying there loose. I just had a sore neck and a bruise on my arm, the car was repairable, but my insurance company had to foot the bill for PennDOT’s incompetence.

  • tanger

    Do it right the first time and you wont have to repair every 3 years. PENNDOT incompetence. They want more money to do it wrong again… Look at other states…

  • Paul

    Just great!! The so called seal coating sucks, and I’ve almost gone down on my motorcycle because of their signs saying it was to be done next week and the lack of sweeping the road each day following the treatment… Calling or emailing PennDOT to complain is also a joke because they give you this big run around on how great this stuff is.

  • Steve Damaged

    All above is very correct. However, I want to speak loudly about how poorly and misleading the news article was. Especially because it does not mention that most of the windshield damage comes from the loose chips being thrown up by oncoming traffic. The chips are lifted and accelerated towards your vehicle by oncoming traffic making the impact speed often double the speed that you are going. If you are going 40 mph and oncoming is going 40 mph, the impact force of the chips will be almost 80 mph!

    All the bicycle races we used to have here have stopped due to the Tar & Chip danger. People no longer ride to the bike trail or walk the roads to exercise any more die to the danger from PennDOT’s sealing with stone chips.

    Another comment is that PennDOT often “Fresh Oil & Chips” roads that were rotomilled and paved 2 years ago!!! I have spend Thousands of dollars repairing Headlights, Windshields, Rocker Panels and the Undercarriage from damage caused by PennDOT’s poor road maintenance.

    To close, I have seen 2 accidents where people have died where the most contributing factor was loose, unswept PennDOT Chips. Remember, in Pennsylvania, there are No Elected officials in PennDOT. It is an executive branch of the governor’s office, who is elected.

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