Why we use each different types of surface treatment
Over time, road surfaces become worn out due to the volume of traffic that use them and the different extremes of weather that affect them. Engineers regularly carry out electronic scanning on our main roads and visually inspect other roads. Different surface treatments are used according to all the circumstances of the road, such as the current condition, how busy the road is and the most efficient treatment for the future, how many years of good condition will result from the money spent on the treatment.
Surface Dressing is used where the surface is in reasonably good condition, but needs some quick, overall improvement which can last up to ten years. We can cover a large area very quickly at relatively low cost. We use Surface Dressing on most of our surfacing programme.
Micro-surfacing is a slightly more durable and more expensive process which places a thin layer of a complete new surface on the road. It takes longer to cover a given area than Surface Dressing, but is used where roads are busier and the road needs more levelling off.
Resurfacing is where the existing surface is removed and completely new depth of surface is laid as a replacement. This treatment is used where the road is badly worn and needs to take perhaps heavy traffic and last a long time. It is expensive and slow.
Recycling is only used in limited areas where the road is very badly out of shape. A very durable new surface can be laid, and logistics make it easier to re-use existing materials rather than bring in new stone. It is marginally more expensive treatment per area covered than resurfacing or other treatments.
To view our current road surfacing programme please see the road surfacing programme map, which shows our current plans. More details can be found by zooming in on the map to the desired area and clicking on the highlighted area. For a searchable map with various asset information available, such as bus stops, salt bin locations and other highways information please see the Highways Information Map. You will need to confirm you accept the terms and conditions.
You may also stay up to date with roadworks information on www.roadworks.org
Surface dressing takes place during the Spring and Summer months, although we will carry out preparation works (patching etc) all year round. The treatment involved is sensitive to weather that is too cold, hot or wet, so sometimes we have to change the date of advertised works at short notice. Should this happen, it may be that the area will only be returned to later in the season, when our team are able to return to the particular area.
Firstly any potholes or other defects are patched and the surface made level. Then crews spray the existing road surface with a coating of hot bitumen and cover it with stone chippings. The chippings are rolled into the bitumen to form a water-resistant protective layer which makes the road less slippery and extends its life.
As soon as the bitumen has set, we sweep the road to remove any loose chippings but the nature of the treatment means there will be some loose chippings on the road surface until it beds down. 20mph speed limit temporary warning signs will be visible to alert drivers, as vehicles using the new surface help to embed the loose chippings. After about a week we return to the road to sweep up any chippings that have not been pressed into the bitumen and appropriate road markings will be added.
Download a copy of our Surface Dressing leaflet (PDF).
Watch a video that explains the surface dressing process and benefits
Get a bird’s eye view of typical surface dressing works under way
Carriageway Machine Resurfacing
Carriageway resurfacing will usually involve planing off all or some of the existing surface and removal of this material from site. The planed area will have the manholes and gullies adjusted and replaced if required. A bitumen spray coat will then be applied and the new surfacing laid. The surfacing will consist of either one or two separate layers, dependent on the shape and condition of the underlying road structure. This is a more substantial, deeper new surface than for example Surface Dressing.
Micro surfacing is laid on top of the existing road surface and restores the surface texture and improves skid resistance. It forms a water-resistant, protective layer which extends the life of the road. It is applied cold and consists of a thin layer of bitumen, fine graded aggregates and a filler. There may be some loose material on the road for a short while after it has been laid. This will be swept up when we return to add the road markings.
Download our Microsurfacing leaflet (PDF).
We resurface and reconstruct our pavements and kerbs when necessary, depending on their condition, usage and any defects. We use a variety of treatments, from applying a thin surface, such as slurry sealing, to a full reconstruction.
How this may affect you
Depending on the road width and nature of the site, we may have to close the road with local diversions, or traffic may be controlled with traffic lights or stop/go boards.
Whilst the work is in progress, warning signs advising “Temporary Road Surface” and “Raised Ironworks”, together with “No Road Markings” and “Ramp” boards will be placed as needed. We will try to allow you to drive in and out of your property, but please take extra care because the step up into your property driveway may be higher, until the final surface is complete.
In some places where there is a lot of traffic the work may have to be done during the evening/night to minimize congestion. Night working also allows longer working sessions, thereby enabling the work to be completed more quickly than if we used daytime outside rush hours. The decision to do the work at night is not taken lightly because of the possible disturbance to sleeping residents, and also because night work carries additional costs to the Council. These considerations have to be carefully weighed alongside the scale of disruption to the whole community that would arise should the work be undertaken during normal hours.
Please note that after the resurfacing, any driveway protection (no-parking) markings (white ‘H’ or ‘I’ bar markings) previously laid will not be reinstated when the new carriageway lining is carried out. This is because although these markings have been provided in the past upon request to assist in highlighting a vehicle access, the markings are non-enforceable. If you are obstructed on your driveway, the Police can take enforcement action against the driver.
What should you do?
- Do not park your vehicle on that part of the road to be treated, during working hours. If you need advice, ask site staff or alternatively call the Contact Centre on 0345 603 7631.
- During the planing process of resurfacing treatment, dust may be produced, particularly when windy. If possible, keep windows and doors closed.
- When the bitumen spray coat is applied, it is very sticky, therefore DO NOT drive or walk through it, as it may be carried on to your property. If you need access seek advice from site staff.
- Avoid driving or walking through the new surfacing until it has been compacted and the road has been re-opened to general traffic.
- Restrict your speed to a maximum 5mph through the site during works and beware of ramps, raised manholes and gullies.
- Take note of the directional flow of traffic through the site when coming out of driveways or side roads.
- Some road surfacing involves the use of hot materials, and newly laid surfaces remain hot for some time. It is important that everybody, children and pets in particular, be kept well away from the work, at the very least until the road is re-opened to traffic.
To get the latest live information on these and other roadworks (planned and emergency works being carried out not only by Essex Highways, but also by other organisations) see our Live Travel Information map.
If we have to postpone the work for a longer period, you can see revised programme dates online. Our entire annual road surfacing plans on for the current year can be found on our road surfacing programme map. More details can be found by zooming in on the map to the desired area and clicking on the highlighted area. For a searchable map with various asset information available, such as bus stops, salt bin locations and other highways information please see the Highways Information Map. You will need to confirm you accept the terms and conditions.