Like applying a lick of protective paint to a garden fence to prolong its life, surface dressing helps protect road surfaces against the elements. It provides a waterproof seal to help prevent the formation of potholes and restores any lost skid resistance.
We’re often asked why we choose this method of maintenance over others, how we determine which roads are done and why we do the works during the summer. Here’s the answers to these, and some of your other frequent questions.
Why don’t you resurface the roads?
As part of our major Operation Resilience programme, surface dressing is a very cost-effective means of proactive maintenance. It keeps roads in good condition for longer, and that means our resources can be directed to fully resurface the roads that need it most.
It’s also more sustainable, reducing demand upon non sustainable resources such as bitumen and aggregate and protects the road for around 10 years. Resurfacing involves replacing the structure of the road. This can be as much as 450mm deep, and full road resurfacing costs 12 times more per mile.
How do you determine which roads will be treated?
Around 140 miles of roads and footways are treated this way every year. That’s enough treatment to cover over 164 football pitches. Regular condition surveys are carried out and the data from these surveys is combined with other known information such as the extent of preparatory repairs required and this . helps us identify the areas that would benefit the most from a dressing-type treatment.
Why do you do the surface dressing in the summer?
Surface dressing treatments can only be applied when the road is dry, which is mostly in the warmer months. When the rain falls the work has to stop, so we have to change the dates or work on other sites. It is a quick process though, with most sites taking less than a day to complete.
Why can’t you do the works at night?
Road surface temperatures will drop at night and sometimes to a point where there is a risk that the bitumen used won’t stick to the original surface properly, or bond to the fresh stone.
Why do you leave loose chippings on newly surfaced roads?
The thin layer of new stone chippings are essential to the success of the dressing. They improve skid resistance and also reduce the risk of aquaplaning and, therefore potential accidents. We put up advisory signs to remind drivers to slow down to avoid damage to their cars (and to others’) when a road has just been treated. We go back to sweep the loose chippings as soon as possible after treatment before the road markings are repainted.
Will I be able to access my property?
We understand road closures are inconvenient. As the work can involve hot materials, liquid bitumen and large equipment, we can't always guarantee access to properties, so if you need to drive into or out of the working area during the hours when the closure is in place, we would ask you to make alternative arrangements.
If you usually park on the road you will need to make alternative arrangements for the period when the road is temporarily closed. Off-road parking should not normally be affected but we can’t guarantee unrestricted access during the working hours.
I’m expecting a home delivery – how will they get to my property?
Delivery drivers should park nearby if it is safe to do so and use pedestrian access to make their delivery, if appropriate. To avoid potential delays however please consider rearranging deliveries for after the work is finished, or outside the hours of the temporary closure.
Who can I contact?
If you have any issues that relate to our surface dressing operations please call our Customer Contact Centre on 0300 555 1388.