GREENFIELD — Stretches of nearly two dozen rural roads are getting repairs this summer in the county’s annual chip-seal program.
With more than double the funding in hand for roadwork, Hancock County highway engineer Gary Pool says this is a busy year for placing a seal coat on roads that need repairs.
“I’m a big fan of chip seal,” Pool said. “For what it costs, it really extends the (life of the) road.”
Calling it “ugly but very functional,” Pool said it’s relatively inexpensive to maintain roads through chip seal compared to repaving.
It costs about $70,000 to $75,000 a mile to repave a road; chip sealing is $10,000 to $15,000 a mile.
The department has more money in hand this summer to tackle the roads. County elected officials have been allocating more money to road maintenance; $442,000 will be spent this year on chip sealing alone, compared to $210,000 last year. That will pay for repairs to 29.5 miles of roads, up from 14 that was chip sealed last year.
Chip sealing repairs roads by using gravel and asphalt binder to place a new layer over the surface of the road.
The biggest stretch that will be chip sealed this year is Fortville Pike, from CR 300N to CR 900N. Pool said while most rural residents understand the process of chip seal, he’s concerned motorists who use Fortville Pike are city residents who might not know how to handle a seal-coated road.
“Typically someone who’s lived in the county, they know what it is, and they don’t really notice it,” Pool said. “Someone coming from the city, it’s new to them … In the beginning, it looks like a gravel road, and rocks can fly from it. People who live in the county are used to that, and we don’t hear from them. People from the western side (of the county) haven’t seen this type (of road repair).”
Randy Moore, superintendent of the county highway department, said most of the complaint calls they get on chip sealing comes from people who aren’t familiar with the process. Sometimes people think the road has been turned back to gravel, and they don’t realize that the more motorists drive on it, the more bound the material becomes.
Some roads are getting a double seal, which adds an extra layer for pavement that needs a little extra TLC.
“(A double seal) will last longer because a single seal is just going over it with a real fine stone and just filling the voids in the road,” Moore said.
There are nine stretches of road already chip sealed, and 13 more yet to go. The timeline for the rest of the roads is dependent on weather, and the department is aiming toward the end of August to complete Fortville Pike.
“I’m hoping to have it all done by the end of August, if everything goes well,” Moore said.