MISSOULA — Missoula's annual chip and seal program has started up across the city and several streets will be receiving an updated look.
The City of Missoula started this program in 1987 and has continued with it every year since.
But what exactly is chip sealing and what are the benefits?
“[It] is a protective coating for the asphalt, that provides several benefits in that it helps protect the asphalt from sunlight deterioration [and] water infiltration,” said Missoula Deputy Director of Public Works for streets Brian Hensel.
“It seals up cracks, in the long run, will prevent potholes. Plus it also provides increased traction for winter commuters, which is a tremendous benefit.”
The process is quick but meticulous. Over 30 workers must prepare the road, by covering drains and then filling in the cracks in the road with a tar sealant. The whole process takes about two to three weeks.
“Normally we're only inconveniencing people for a few minutes as the chip spreader and the oil distributor go by, and then once the chips are applied to the asphalt the motion,” Hensel explained. “You can pretty much drive on it.”
Hensel says drivers can expect delays and drivers should use caution and slow down when traveling through those chip and seal sections of the road. He also mentioned that bikers and motorcyclists should use caution as well.
Crews will place barricades on residential streets with on-street parking in advance of the chip seal operation so that residents are aware of the upcoming work.
The chip seal program is set to be finished by Aug. 5. Click here to view a map of the project.