It’s been road resurfacing season all over the region, leading to a flurry of lane closures and detours, but also hopefully a better driving experience.

Have you ever taken time to think about what road resurfacing entails? Here are five information tidbits that may give you a greater appreciation for new asphalt.

Slathering Down the Slurry - On many residential streets, road resurfacing involves the application of slurry, a water-based asphalt mixture. Sometimes this is called slurry seal. It’s common for work crews to spread slurry about three-eighths of an inch thick. “It protects streets from water penetration, provides a new wearing surface with improved skid-resistance, and is a quick and economical maintenance strategy,” the Arlington County Department of Transportation said.

Microsurfacing - Many municipalities also resurface roads using microsurfacing, which is basically the same as laying down slurry, only thicker. Arlington County likes to perform microsurfacing on high-volume arterial roads. The surface usually lasts between 5-7 years, thus extending the life of the road.

Wait a While - What happens if you drive on a road that was just resurfaced? Well, you could damage the road and it will make a mess of your tires. Montgomery County officials say it is best to wait at least 15 minutes—and ideally an hour—before driving on a road that was recently resurfaced. But, the county notes that “In emergency situations, feel free to leave whenever you need.”

There’s Data - Municipalities aren’t just eyeballing roads when deciding which are in need of repair. In this day and age, there are countless pieces of information collected and stored in vast databases. The District Department of Transportation, for example, has entire Asset Management Division devoted to this.

“Pavement condition data is collected using state-of-the-art imaging technology on more than 4,300 lane miles of pavement surface annually on most parts of the roadway network, if not the entire network,” DDOT says.

Is the PCI High? - In the District, the condition of roadways is scored on a 100-point scale, and those scores guide which roads get resurfaced. The District uses something called “Pavement Condition Index.” Anything with a score of 86 or higher is considered excellent, and 55 and below is graded as poor. Roads are resurfaced in “worst to first” order.

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