Pavement Preservation on the Rise in Utah

Skid resistance, durability leading factors in micro surfacing's use in Utah.

By Bill Cooper

With the instability of the economy today, many states are turning to pavement preservation to keep their roads safe. The price is right. For example, in Utah a slurry seal costs about $1.30 per sq. yd., a chip seal with a fog seal flush is about $1.75, an open graded surface course treatment is about $5.00, and micro surfacing treatment is about $2.50 to $3.00. A section of I-80 in Parley's Canyon, recently micro surfaced by Intermountain Slurry Seal, cost $4.50 per square yard when combined with the asphalt mill.

"The future for micro surfacing in Utah is very promising," said Deryl Mayhew, UDOT resident engineer. "I like the product because the texture performs very well, it provides great skid resistance, is very durable and goes down fast. In Utah, it is not uncommon for the elevation to rise 3,000 ft. above sea level in a 10-mile stretch, so the cold weather takes a beating on the roads.

"The micro surfacing treatment has proven to work very well in both the low and high altitudes. For that reason, our use of micro surfacing has grown tremendously in the last year or two. I now have a micro surfacing treatment on almost every project that has a hot-mix asphalt component to it."

When used as part of an ongoing surface treatment program, contractors can avoid doing a complete mill and overlay for many years. While a mill and 4-in. asphalt overlay provides structural stability to the road, it also costs approximately $20.00 per square yard.

"If you want roads to last for 20 or more years, it's important to have a consistent plan of how to treat them," said Rusty Price, general manager for the Utah-based Intermountain Slurry Seal branch. "Slurry seal is definitely the most economical surface treatment for residential streets as far as costs go. Micro surfacing is ideal for higher travelled roads and will generally last about seven to eight years. Asphalt overlays have their place, but I think significant money can be saved by keeping those structurally sound roads preserved as long as possible."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is having a positive effect on pavement preservation contractors as well. Each state is handling its money differently. While some governments are using the money to do new asphalt overlays, a lot of the money is also going toward preservation.

"Looking at the past ten years, I fully expect pavement preservation to continue to grow," said Price. "Whether it's directly or indirectly related to the stimulus, people have definitely caught on to its benefits. The future looks good."

To learn how Intermountain Slurry Seal used micro surfacing to reduce potholing on Utah's I-80 read "Micro Surfacing Controls Potholes" in the February issue of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction.

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Intermountain Slurry Seal Wins Gold 4 Straight Years

In recognition of the obstacles it overcame to successfully preserve I-80, Utah-based Intermountain Slurry Seal was honored for a fourth straight year with the International Slurry Surfacing Association (ISSA) President's Award. The President's Award is presented to the contractor that exhibits the highest quality of workmanship, while complying with the best standards of practice. Each candidate is judged on overall customer satisfaction, innovation of the project, appearance of the road, completion time and safety. For more information on the award, visit ISSA's website at

"This is very important to the crew that performed the work on I-80 and motivates them to continue to raise the bar," said Rusty Price, general manager for the Utah-based Intermountain Slurry Seal branch. "We've had an opportunity to do some complicated and challenging jobs over the past four years, and this is an excellent way to pat them on the back for the excellent work and attention to quality they have shown."