Chip seal work begins today on Canyon Road

Pierce County will apply rubberized chip seal coating to three miles of Canyon Road from Pioneer Road to 103rd St. E. today and tomorrow. Drivers should seek an alternate route while the application is underway. Canyon Road carries more than 16,000 vehicles per day.

The new Canyon Road surface will be smoother and better looking — the result of an improved chip seal product made from 5 percent recycled tire rubber and gravel that is pre-coated with paving-grade asphalt. This product was applied to 150 lane miles of county road this year, using the equivalent of 75 tons of recycled tires.

Chip sealing is the most common and economical surface treatment used to preserve county roads. The process consists of applying a layer of liquid asphalt to the road surface, which is covered immediately with a layer of crushed rock.

The rubberized product costs about 25 percent more than standard chip seals but lasts one to two years longer, resulting in lower long-term cost.

“When there isn’t enough money to install completely new pavement, a rubberized chip seal provides a good short term solution,” said Road Operations Manager Bruce Wagner. “It provides excellent cost benefit when applied to the right road at the right time.”

The primary reason to chip seal an existing pavement is to seal and protect the pavement surface from deterioration caused by traffic and the effects of sun and water. Chip seals do not replace the need for new pavement, but can significantly extend pavement performance. Rubberized chip seal costs about $16,000 per lane mile compared to asphalt overlay that costs $65,000 to $100,000 per lane mile. In 2009, the county applied rubberized and standard chip seal to 230 lane miles in all, at a cost of $3.2 million.