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Applying the Skin Patch – Asphalt Style

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Roller on new asphalt

It’s always interesting to watch the weather reports from elsewhere around the country during the winter months. Stories of ice and snow and freezing temperatures, especially so this year in Europe which is suffering one of the worst winters on record.

Here in southern California, our winters are typically pretty mild, by any standard. Still we have some storms that manage to produce ice and snow in the mountains. That’s when our DPW crews are called into action and often work through the night to make sure the roads are cleared of snow, scraped of ice, and even sanded for the morning commute or to enable the rest of us to drive up to the mountains and see the beauty of a winter wonderland (while still making it back in time to hit beach).

Grader & RollerFortunately, most of the County’s nearly 2,000 miles of roadway doesn’t get hit with ice or snow; however the rain can often present other driving challenges, and even cause road damage.

Where the asphalt is broken up, water can seep into the cracks and cause even more damage. This is where county crews apply a skin patch. First they scrape off the surface, then rough up the exposed layer, apply an oil adhesive, and finally lay down new asphalt. A motorized grader spreads the asphalt evenly across the road, followed by a roller that compacts it. The skin patch is less than an inch think, but it allows proper water runoff during storms and improves driving conditions.

Watch the video

It’s a process that is relatively quick, has very little disruption to traffic, and adds to the service life of the road. It’s all in the overall effort of our County crews to continually ensure our roads are safe and passable.Roller

Meanwhile, if you are heading to the mountains following a storm, be sure to watch out for our DPW crews and equipment. Don’t stop and park in the roadway because a snowplow may be headed your way. Don’t sled down the hillsides and across the roadway. And always carry those chains when chain requirements are posted. Notices are always posted on the DPW Facebook and Twitter pages at SDCountyDPW.