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SDOT’s Microsurfacing Program

What’s happening now?

2017 microsurfacing work is complete!

During this project, crews working for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) microsurfaced 32 lane miles of streets including portions of the future Rainier Valley and North Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and in the Bitter Lake, Wedgwood, and Ravenna-Bryant neighborhoods.

We thank you for your patience during this work and hope you enjoy your microsurfaced streets!

Last updated: August 30, 2017


What is microsurfacing?

Microsurfacing is a cost-effective method to help preserve the life of the pavement by applying a thin sealcoat; a mix of water, emulsified asphalt, and fine gravel.

This preventive maintenance process protects the pavement from cracking in the future. Check out this video of the process.

Which streets were microsurfaced?

In the summer of 2017, we microsurfaced 32 lane miles of streets in 4 Seattle neighborhoods (click on the links to see exactly which streets were treated):

How does SDOT select the streets for treatment?

In the 1950s and 1960s, the City of Seattle annexed several parts of King County. Most of these streets had a dirt or gravel surface. The City paved these streets with a minimal amount of asphalt and began a regular preventive maintenance cycle, typically chip sealing the streets on a 10-year cycle.

Because these streets are mostly low volume non-arterial streets and have received preventive maintenance in the past, they continue to be the best candidates for microsurfacing.

All the streets being microsurfaced are selected based on the age of the current pavement and an on-site inspection by SDOT staff. Streets where the pavement has degraded beyond the point where preventive maintenance is effective will be excluded, as will streets where the asphalt was recently applied.

Preparing the street for microsurfacing

It is essential that structural damage is repaired prior to the microsurfacing process. SDOT crews patch deteriorated areas of the selected roads well in advance of the microsurfacing operation.

In addition, low hanging branches and overgrowth needs to be trimmed to allow for the microsurfacing equipment to navigate the roads.

On the day of microsurfacing, crews sweep the street before applying the microsurfacing material.

What to expect the day of microsurfacing on your street

As the microsurfacing equipment moves along the street the mixture is fed into a spreader box. The material is spread across the full width of a traffic lane and then smoothed with a squeegee. The equipment also feathers the edges for a smooth transition. To complete this work, neighbors should expect:

  • On-street parking will not be permitted on the day of the microsurfacing
    • The street will need to be closed to all vehicles for up to 8 hours to provide the best result, although the average road closure is 4 to 6 hours.
    • “No Parking” signs will be placed 2 to 3 days before the work begins.
  • Pets and children should be kept off the newly applied emulsion for 2-3 hours until it has dried
    • The emulsion is difficult to remove from clothing, fur, or paws
  • Work will be scheduled to avoid conflicts with garbage collection and recycling pickups as much as possible, and any emergency vehicles will be allowed through the work zone without delay
  • Emergency vehicles will be allowed through the work area immediately.
  • Noise, tar-like odors, and large equipment are expected with the work.


During the month of August, we microsurfaced selected streets in several neighborhoods, shown below. Work occurred over a ten-day period from August 14 to 25.

August 14, 15
Rainier Valley Neighborhood Greenway

August 16, 17, 18, 19
Wedgwood/Ravenna-Bryant/North Seattle Neighborhood Greenway

August 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
Bitter Lake


The 2017 microsurfacing project is expected to cost $970,000, and funding is provided by the REETII (Real Estate Excise Tax).

Contact Us

If you have questions about the 2017 Microsurfacing Program, please contact Paul Elliott, SDOT Project Communications Lead, at (206) 684-5321 or

Paul Elliott
Project Communications Lead

Brian Glas, PE
Project Manager, SDOT

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