Chip sealing season is about to start on Chelan County roadways. 

The process is a form of road preservation where cracks in the roadway are sealed before preparation work is performed. 

The actual chip sealing involves applying a coat of liquid asphalt to the road, which is topped with gravel.  

"We use two distributors that apply the hot oil, followed by a chip box that drops the 3/8th inch rocks," said Keith Newberry, foreman of Chelan County’s Wenatchee District and county preservation program foreman. "We'll have 10-12 dump trucks bringing rock to the chip box, followed by four rubber tire rollers, rolling and mending that rock into the oil." 

Chip sealing on Chelan County roads will begin Monday and wrap up by July 15th. The finished product will then have time to completely dry out before colder weather hits in the fall. 

Drivers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes during both the pre-level and chip-sealing processes when there’ll be one-lane, flagger-controlled traffic.  Motorists are advised to find alternate routes when crews are in their area. A pilot car will be used in some cases. 

Chip sealing this summer will be performed on all roads in downtown Manson as well as the upper end of Entiat Road and in portions of the Sunnyslope area. A full list of roads being treated can be found here. 

The public can keep up on the location of crews during the chip-sealing season by following Chelan County Public Works on Facebook. 

The chip sealing process of laying gravel over liquid asphalt is quicker and far less expensive than repaving roads and tends to work well in rural areas with less traffic.  

Still, Newberry says a full crew is needed for a chip sealing project, which can typically be completed in less than one day per road. 

"We have five districts in Chelan County," Newberry said. "We will draw people from all five districts. We'll approximately have 21 employees, and 17 pieces of equipment on the job." 

When chip sealing is applied to a roadway, loose gravel remains on the surface for a few days and up to a couple of weeks following application.  

It is county practice to reopen roadways immediately following application to lessen inconvenience to the traveling public.  

General traffic flow also helps further compress the gravel into the underlying oil. 

There’s a budget of about $1.7 million for chip sealing in the county this summer, which includes some pre-level work on roads that will be chip sealed next summer. 

The 534 miles of Chelan County roads are surveyed and scored every two years, which allows the county to determine when to rehabilitate a road at the time of least lifecycle cost. 

Chip sealing, when all the steps are completed, is effective for seven to 10 years. 

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