What is Cape Seal?
A cape seal is a combination of treatments used to provide long-term protection of underlying road layers and a tougher, more durable wearing surface. Cape seal combinations include chip seal and slurry surfacing systems, and, for roads exhibiting more severe mass cracking, rejuvenating scrub seal and high-polymer micro surfacing. A cape seal can extend a road’s life span up to 10 years and reduce maintenance costs by 25 percent or more compared to asphalt concrete hot mix, making it a cost-effective investment to proactively manage pavement.
2022 Road Improvement Project Details
The road improvement project, which was funded by saving unused road and bridge funds, focused on the preservation of the County’s hot mix asphalt (HMA) roads and began with equipment calibration on August 1, 2022. Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions (EAE) supplied both eScrub rejuvenating scrub seal and eFlex premium micro surfacing products that were used for the project. eScrub repairs mass cracking and revitalizes pavement by returning maltenes to the original asphalt binder. eFlex inhibits oxidation and provides an extremely durable wearing surface.
Project-level designs for both eFlex and eScrub applications were performed. As part of pre- treatment preparation, pavement edge issues were addressed, and any structural issues present were repaired with full-depth patches. The County’s in-house crew and Intermountain Slurry Seal, the contractor on the project, cleaned cracks and swept road surfaces free of trash and other debris. Leading up to the cape seal application, portable road barriers and road closure signs were placed in and around work areas to ensure public safety. eScrub was applied at the prescribed application shot rate range of 0.28 to 0.30 gallons per square yard. Class 4 mineral aggregate was spread uniformly over treated pavement at an average rate of 20 pounds per square yard. The County performed another round of sweeping to remove excess aggregate before applying eFlex at a shot rate of 25 pounds per square yard.
Altogether, the County resurfaced 121 miles of road in just a year, an achievement the RBD credits to the innovative cape seal treatment applied.
The 2022 Road Improvement Project resulted in significant impacts for the County, their constituents and the state. Pulaski County loses approximately 1,300 lane-mile-years of service life annually, one lane-mile-year of life for every lane mile in its network. The same ratio of annual loss of pavement service life is true for counties across the country without a treatment plan in place to reverse the trend of a deteriorating road network. The 2022 project, in conjunction with the County’s existing in-house chip seal program and hot mix overlay program for 2023, is expected to add a total of 3,740 lane miles of service, nearly tripling the amount of annual service life extension needed to maintain their paved roads. Since the project, the County’s overall network PCI rating has increased nearly 10 points, from 75.3 to 83.7 — one of the highest county ratings in the state today. “Investing in our roads and making data-driven decisions has been a main focus, and it’s paying off,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.
Pulaski County manages approximately 800 lane miles of rural chip seal roads and 500 lane miles of HMA roads. The County’s cape seal bid was approximately $80,000 — less than half the cost of a hot mix overlay which averaged between $185,000 and $200,000 per mile at the time.
A New Standard for the State
Prior to the 2022 Road Improvement Project, Pulaski County worked with the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s (ARDOT’s) State-Aid Division to qualify for funds that the state allocates to counties to assist in improving their roads. Due to the County’s pioneering work with ARDOT, a cape seal is now an acceptable treatment for state funding that other counties can utilize to improve their roads.
The County plans to apply cape seal combination treatments on an annual basis to help maintain and improve their roads. In addition, the County plans to focus attention on fractionating the reclaimed asphalt pavement it receives from the state and hopes to reach a point where a significant portion of chip and scrub seal aggregate will be recycled material from ARDOT.
A Final Note On Pavement Preservation Excellence
Pulaski County focused on moving from improving distressed pavements to preserving good pavements and was awarded for their achievements in the process. Nominated by EAE for outstanding efforts in pavement preservation, Pulaski County was the recipient of the 2023 James B. Sorenson Award for Excellence in Pavement Preservation. The prestigious award is presented by FP2 Inc. to recognize superior pavement preservation practice of a state agency, county, city or township.
Contact your local Ergon representative for more information on how your roads can benefit from a cape seal treatment.