Print this Page  
City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Chip Seal Work Improving Seattle’s Streets

7/17/2008  11:00:00 AM

Chip Seal Work Improving Seattle’s Streets
Cost-effective process allows for quick maintenance and long-lasting roads

SEATTLE - Making significant progress in its 2008 roadway work, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has concluded its chip seal work in Columbia City and is now paving in the Cedar Park and North Mathews Beach neighborhoods. Use of this cost-effective paving technique in 2008 will allow SDOT to rapidly improve nearly 39 lane-miles of residential streets and preserve those roads for at least ten more years.

The chip seal process involves applying a fast-drying asphalt emulsion, compacting chipped rocks into it and then sweeping up any rock residue. With limited resources available for non-arterial roadwork, SDOT can refinish 38.7 lane-miles for approximately $936,000 versus a full asphalt replacement of the roads, not including drainage, that would cost roughly $8,000,000.

The city has been chip sealing streets since 1967, when it converted dirt and gravel non-arterial streets to chip seal in order to cut down on dust and other pollution, and improve air quality. The process is widely used throughout the country and 24 percent of state highway roads are chip seal pavement. The emulsion used in the work is a mixture of liquid asphalt and water, and poses no threat to human health or the environment.

Chip seal streets are resealed every ten years to maintain the surface. The streets in Cedar Park and North Mathews Beach were last chip sealed in 1998 and the streets in Columbia City, with a delay due to Link light rail construction, were last chip sealed in 1994.

SDOT conducted community outreach to make residents aware of the upcoming work. To help SDOT quickly complete the work and prevent the chance of any chip seal residue getting on their vehicles, residents should park out of the area to be resurfaced. As the chip seal process merely involves the application of emulsion and chipped rocks, the new surface can be driven on almost immediately.

Motorists are asked to limit their speed to ten miles per hour for the first few days after the resurfacing to allow the rocks to set. Mechanical street sweepers will remove the loose rocks within a few days of the initial work and SDOT is being more aggressive than in previous years in quickly sweeping up leftover rocks.

Typical work hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, with traffic restrictions in place from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Some inconvenience can be expected; however, SDOT will make every effort to minimize disruptions. More information is available about this work on SDOT’s website at Also, for more information or to provide comments, the public may contact Susan Almachar of SDOT at 206-396-3556.

The Seattle Department of Transportation builds, maintains and operates Seattle's $8 billion transportation infrastructure. To further Mayor Nickels’ goal to get Seattle moving, the department manages short- and long-term investments in streets, bridges, pavement and trees, that better connect the city with the region.

- 30-

Seattle Department of Transportation

Back to News Release Home Page and News Release Search