Chip sealing adds life to Missouri roads, saves taxpayer dollars

Submitted to Branson Globe

JEFFERSON CITY – Chip seal operations have begun throughout the state, and the Missouri Department of Transportation wants you to know what this work entails and why this technique is used to preserve highways throughout the state.

MoDOT has prepared a series of videos titled “All About Chip Seals” to help drivers better understand this maintenance technique. The videos can be found on MoDOT Central District’s YouTube channel.


Chip sealing is a cost-effective way to get more use out of our highways,” said Natalie Roark, MoDOT’s state maintenance director. (Special to Branson Globe)

“The bottom line is that chip sealing is a cost-effective way to get more use out of our highways,” said Natalie Roark, MoDOT’s state maintenance director.

A chip seal operation entails spraying a heated film of asphalt liquid on the road, followed by placing fine rocks or chips on top. The chips are then compacted to make them adhere to the roadway. Finally, the excess loose chips are swept from the surface, leaving an improved roadway that will hold up longer than it would have without the treatment.

Chip seals are about one-third the cost of a conventional asphalt overlay, averaging $15,000 per mile as compared to an estimated $55,000 per mile for an asphalt overlay. Chip seals keep damaging water from penetrating paved surfaces and extend the life of the pavement for an additional five to seven years. Chip sealing also seals cracks and improves roadway traction.

A surface may be chip sealed several times, providing the road remains structurally sound. The chip seal process is typically used on roads carrying lower traffic volumes which make up more than half of MoDOT’s roadway network.

“Motorists need to observe the speed limit of 35 mph on roads where chip sealing is in progress,” said Roark. “Most damage to vehicles comes when drivers are going too fast or ignore road conditions in a chip seal work zone.”

Motorists should also be aware that flaggers and pilot vehicles are frequently present at chip seal operations, and vehicles may be required to come to a complete stop. Traffic delays are possible, so travelers should consider alternate routes, if available.

Road condition information is available 24/7 on MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map located at modot.org or through MoDOT’s smartphone app which can be downloaded free for iPhone and Android phones.

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