Pavement Treatment: Cape Seal
Project at a Glance
Est Completion Date
Kelly Hannon, VDOT Communications Manager
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for maintaining more than 125,000 lane miles of roadway in Virginia.
In the 14 counties of the Fredericksburg District, this includes:
• 281 lane miles* of interstate
• 2,185 lane miles of primary roads. Primary routes are numbered 599 and below. Examples in the Fredericksburg area: Route 1, Route 3, Route 17, Route 208)
• 9,171 lane miles of secondary roads. Secondary routes are numbered 600 and above, which includes subdivision streets.
*One mile of every travel lane on a roadway equals one lane mile. For instance, one mile on northbound or southbound Interstate 95 is equivalent to three lane miles, since there are three travel lanes.
Virginia’s current highway network is the result of more than 100 years of investment in infrastructure that provides for the economic activities and the mobility of people and goods throughout the commonwealth.
Preserving this investment is a core function of VDOT
Choosing a Treatment Method
Each summer, VDOT must decide which roads will be resurfaced during the upcoming year. The roads being resurfaced in 2012 were decided upon last summer. Contracts are awarded to private companies in the late fall and winter for the following year.
With a limited amount of funding, roadways in need of treatment must be prioritized. The appropriate treatment must be selected in order to stretch the funding we have to address the maximum amount of roads possible.
To help accomplish this task, VDOT rates pavement conditions every year throughout the state. These conditions are analyzed to determine the best type of treatment to extend the life of each pavement.
Treatments are chosen based on a variety of factors, including the current pavement condition, the ride quality, and the volume of traffic a road carries.
While a road may not look deficient to the casual observer, samples of the roadway under testing can reveal distresses that are concerning to VDOT.
Cape seal is designed to improve the condition of the road, extend the life of the pavement and prevent further deterioration.
The cape seal application process has several steps.
The road surface will be sealed with a layer of asphalt "chips," which is a mixture of liquid asphalt and stone.This is a durable and water-resistant layer that protects the roadway.
To prevent asphalt from damaging vehicles traveling on the road while it cures, it is blotted on top with a layer of sand and gravel.
The sand and gravel will remain on the street surface for approximately two weeks after this phase is complete to allow the asphalt "chip-seal" layer to cure.
While the sand and gravel is on the road, there will be a rougher travel surface than usual. Pedestrians and bicyclists should use caution on the road during this phase of the project. This is a temporary condition.
Approximately two weeks after the chip-sealing process is finished, workers will return to sweep and/or vacuum up any remaining sand and gravel from streets that has not dissipated from wind and vehicle traffic.
After the roads have been cleared of sand and gravel, a final travel surface will be applied. This is a mix of crushed stone and liquid asphalt, which will provide a uniform black color. The finished product will initially have a slightly texturized surface, which will be smoothed out over time by vehicle traffic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When can I expect work to begin on my street?
Exact work dates are generally not available until 10 days prior to work beginning as contractors set schedules based on personnel and equipment availability. Giving contractors this flexibility allows Virginia to secure this work at a competitive price.
Working with contractors, VDOT will notify residents, homeowners associations and localities as soon as work dates are set.
In addition, residents can check our “Hot Spots” alert each week for a list of planned construction activities. This list is posted on VirginiaDOT.org and shared with area media outlets.
To receive this weekly alert directly to your e-mail address, send an e-mail to Tina Bundy at Tina.Bundy@VDOT.Virginia.Gov with “Hot Spots Distribution List” in the subject line.
Q: What will take place during this project? What will residents see, hear and observe?
Residents can expect to see work vehicles in their neighborhood and potentially on your street during the project. We encourage motorists to remain alert to temporary traffic patterns.
The brief removal of vehicles from the street may be required when work is underway, as well as obstructions such as basketball hoops or garbage cans.
Q: What are the work hours of this project?
Work hours are generally limited to weekdays between dawn and dusk,.
Q: How does VDOT decide which roads receive treatment, and what treatment to apply?
VDOT tests the pavement condition on all interstates and primary roads each year, to see where the condition falls on a scale of 1 to 100 on our Critical Condition Index. Any score below 60 falls into the “poor” category, with below 50 “very poor.”
These scores help us determine which sections of interstate and primary roads are in greatest need of maintenance and repair. The scores look for problems caused by vehicle load, weather and the environment.
Pavement can appear to be in good condition as you drive down the road, but under testing, will reveal distresses that are concerning to VDOT, and will result in a poor score.
For secondary roads, which includes subdivision streets, local VDOT maintenance staff perform “road rides” each spring and summer and methodically travel routes that fall under its jurisdiction. Roads in need of repair are inventoried and reviewed.
As funds become available each year, maintenance staff make a list of secondary roads that are most in need of repair during the upcoming year.
Based on the road’s condition, the maintenance staff recommends a treatment that is appropriate for the deterioration.
Q: My road is not on the list of roads to be treated this year. How can I request that it receive treatment next year?
If you believe your road is in need of repair or treatment, you can contact VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) to let us know about your maintenance concerns.
Q: I would prefer my neighborhood receive a different treatment. Can my neighborhood ask to receive something other than what we are scheduled to receive?
All surface treatments provide a new travel surface for users that reduces deterioration such as cracking, rutting, rough pavement and friction loss.
All of the new surfaces will be less likely to deteriorate, and prolongs the life of the pavement in your neighborhood.
Q: How does VDOT oversee the contractors carrying out the work?
VDOT has inspectors on site to ensure work is carried out appropriately, and according to state specifications.
If you have a concern, please call VDOT’s Public Affairs Office at (540) 899-4288 or send an e-mail to Fredericksburginfo@VDOT.Virginia.Gov. We will be happy to review and discuss your individual concerns and questions.
Cape Seal Public Meeting: Governor's Green, Maple Grove and Waverly Village
The Virginia Department of Transportation held an information meeting on Thursday, March 21 at Salem Church Public Library on an upcoming cape seal treatment for three neighborhoods in Spotsylvania during 2013: Governor's Green, Maple Grove and Waverly Village.
Click Here to see the presentation from the meeting.