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Surface dressing works

We've just started our annual surface dressing programme to improve stretches of the region's 4100 km of roads.

The problem

Roads become worn because of traffic movement which causes the surface to flex a few millimetres before recovering. The continuous flexing of a road causes surface cracking which can allow water to penetrate the road.

The water in the surface cracks freezes and expands in cold weather so extensive damage of the road structure and foundations can occur if things are left unchecked.

The solution

Surface dressing is a quick, efficient and cost-effective process to maintain and protect roads. We can dress a mile of road in under 3 hours with minimum disruption to traffic for about one-fifth of the cost of alternative methods.

The process is designed to:

  1. form a waterproof flexible seal to prevent water penetration  
  2. arrest disintegration of the road surface  
  3. improve the skid resistance of the surface and so reduce the likelihood of accidents
  4. improve surface texture to reduce spray and improve visibility during wet weather

Surface dressing involves a thin film of hot bituminous "binder" being sprayed on the road before stone chippings are spread and rolled in. This dressing can extend the life of a road by up to ten years.

The alternative to surface dressing is replacing 40mm of asphalt but that's about five times more expensive, takes much longer and causes more disruptions to traffic.

What we're doing

We carry out a surface dressing programme between June and August each year. This year's programme has started in the West of the region and we'll be moving East with an expected completion date of Tuesday 14 August.

The work requires dry conditions so is highly dependent on weather and means delays and changes to the schedule are possible.

How you can help

Traffic and motorists then play an important part in the success of the work.

Surface dressing can be damaged by heavy rollers so a flow of traffic is an ideal way of pressing the chippings into the "binder", helping the surface to bond and creating an even, textured dressing.

You can help by driving at slow speed over the new work until warning signs are removed. Driving at high speeds can result in issues which require remedial work with an additional cost and further disruption to road users.

Further information

Call 030 33 33 3000 if you have any questions about this work. 

Page last updated: 06/06/2018
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