Chip-and-seal paving has begun in Cape Girardeau County, more than a year after first being proposed as a money saving alternative to asphalt.
County Road 273, which stretches for 1.3 miles south from Highway 25 to the Stoddard County line, was paved this morning.
Scott Bechtold, the county's highway administrator, said the road gets "fairly heavy traffic," mostly from factory and farm trucks.
The last of the three-phase paving project was completed Tuesday. Small limestone chips were embedded in a coat of a gooey oil mixture, called the the seal. The road was given a two-inch base layer of rock and on Monday, a primer seal was sprayed, Bechtold said.
"There'll be a little bit of loose gravel on these chips for a few days," Bechtold said.
A sign warned drivers turning off from Highway 25 of fresh oil on the road, because the oil layer was not completely dried.
Bechtold crouched down near the pavement and explained the oil dries quickly; chips are applied within moments of the seal coat.
"The chips help protect the seal from traffic, so traffic doesn't break it down so quickly," he said.
The paving plan was recommended by the county's road and bridge advisory board in April 2007, and adopted by the county commission the following month. But advertising for the work was so late in the season, no contractors submitted bids. The program was advertised again earlier this year and five companies responded.
Blevins Asphalt, of Mount Vernon, Mo., bid $788,124 and won the contract to apply all the chip-and-seal paving in Cape Girardeau County this year, which totals more than 11 miles, on county roads 273, 316, 380, 422, 523, 539, 440 and 522.
Caleb Stokes, a fourth generation member of Blevins Asphalt's founding family, supervised today's paving. He said chip and seal is popular in southwest Missouri, where his company is based.
"It's a little cheaper to maintain the roads. It's not asphalt but it's strong. It'll hold up, eliminate potholes, eliminate dust," Stokes said. "You can maintain more roads with it — asphalt, you might do two, three miles a year; [with chip and seal] you can do six or seven."
He said chip-and-seal paving can be applied nearly 65 percent faster than asphalt.
How long the paving will last depends on the ground below.
"If you have soft soil, then, no, it won't hold it," he said. "Asphalt won't hold up either, it'll just last a little bit longer and eventually just break up. If your subgrade, your base rock, is hard, it'll hold up a long time."
For more on this story, see Wednesday's Southeast Missourian or check back at www.semissourian.com.
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