Surface dressing

Find out about the process of surface dressing, when it is carried out and how works can affect you.

Surface dressing involves:

  1. Even spray application of a bituminous binder glue through a purpose built spray tanker onto the existing road surface
  2. Followed by the application of aggregate chippings onto the binder
  3. The surface is then rolled using pneumatic tired rollers
  4. The road is then opened to traffic, with 20mph speed warning signs in place which allows slow moving traffic to further embed the chippings
  5. Sweeping is then carried out to remove loose chippings
  6. Where necessary, road markings are then usually replaced within 2 weeks of surface dressing, depending on weather conditions
  7. Any cats-eyes are installed following painting of road markings

How our works may affect you

Before works

Advance notice boards will be displayed on site showing the date(s) of proposed works.

Letters to residents will give the programmed start date, duration of works and the start and end times when the road will be closed to traffic.

Access during works

We have to close roads to provide enough room for repairs to be carried out safely.

Depending on the road width and nature of the site, this may involve a road closure with local diversions and/or traffic lights or "stop/go" boards

Please note:

  • Before the start time of the works, parked vehicles should be removed from the road 
  • During the dates/times, vehicles will not be able to park on the road 

Access to properties and businesses within the roadworks site will be available subject to ongoing operations. 

Our staff are on site to answer questions and to help you get into or out of the roadworks site safely using the right route through our works.

However, access to your property may be temporarily unavailable for about 15-20 minutes, (e.g. if we are digging up the road or footpath outside your driveway, or laying a new surface where you need to drive).

We understand that businesses need to know that customers can still visit, so where appropriate we will display information saying "Businesses open as usual".

Other services are notified of planned roadworks, e.g. your local council for bin collections.

Access would immediately be made available to any emergency vehicle. 

Driving during works

Reduced speed restriction signs will be displayed where work is being carried out to warn motorists about the chippings.

The road is safe to drive on following application of the chippings, provided speeds remain below the reduced speed limit.

For your safety, the safety of others, and to prevent damage to vehicles, please keep to the speed limit, keep your distance from the vehicle in front, avoid turning or braking sharply and don't overtake.

Bitumen can become fluid during warm weather. Walking or driving on the new surface before it has set may result in permanent marking on your driveway and internal floors or carpets.

When is surface dressing carried out?

Surface dressing is carried out between mid April and late August as it relies on warm dry weather.

Before surface dressing starts

A month or two before surface dressing starts, patching is carried out to repair the existing road surface before surface dressing.

Works generally consist of digging out and trimming back defective surfacing material. As well as patching with hot bitumen material to seal the existing surface and prevent the ingress of water.

Work will be carried out under a temporary road closure, although it may be possible to keep the road open by carrying out some of the works using temporary traffic management measures. This will depend on the size and location of the patches.

Shortly before surface dressing starts, road gullies and drains are covered with hessian sacking to stop binder and chippings getting in. This is removed once the surface dressing has been completed.

Why we use surface dressing

Surface dressing offers many advantages:

  • It seals the road surface which prevents water getting in to the underlying road structure 
  • It slows the deterioration of the road surface and underlying road structure
  • It restores skid resistance to the road surface
  • It helps to reduce spray caused by vehicles travelling on wet road surfaces
  • The rapid speed of the process means that disruption to road users, local businesses and emergency services is minimised
  • Compared to re-laying hot mix asphalt, surface dressing provides a very low carbon footprint solution
  • Most of the aggregate used is in direct contact with the vehicle tyre, minimising the use of scarce aggregate resources
  • It maximises the cost-effectiveness of limited highway maintenance funds - depending on traffic volumes surface dressing normally lasts between 6 to 12 years

How we choose roads to resurface

We identify which roads to repair based on:

  • regular inspections
  • annual surveys using specialist equipment
  • reports from councillors, parish councils and community groups
  • reports from residents – you can report a defect online

Read about roadworksroad resurfacing and pavement resurfacing to learn the other ways roads are maintained.

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