The growing popularity of slurry seal

slurry seal

As featured in the November edition of Highways Magazine

Peter Shone, managing director at highways maintenance expert JPCS, discusses the benefits of slurry seal on footways over other surfacing treatments, looking into lifecycle, durability and budget cuts.

Local authorities and councils are finding it harder to get the most out of their shrinking road and footpath maintenance budgets. As government spending cuts are presenting major challenges for highways maintenance, contractors must develop more effective and efficient ways of managing roads.

Keeping surfaces maintained and at a level of adequate safety can be costly. In fact, the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey (ALARM) revealed that surface damage from the extreme winter in 2010 cost local authorities an additional £4.4 million each in maintenance bills. Couple this with the public making insurance claims on accidents caused by damaged surfacing on roads and pavements, and local authorities are taking a real hit.

Projects in the infrastructure sector are under high pressure to complete on budget but also within the shortest time period possible. End users want the best quality repairs with the least disruption which can pose some challenges for contractors. People don’t want road and footway improvements taking place for weeks on end and local authorities don’t want to have to deal with complaints from the public when projects cause disruption to the road network.

On the other hand, economic pressures mean contractors now have to squeeze every penny out of the contract – without compromising on quality and delivery. This in turn creates issues for the supply chain to provide a reduction in long term costs.

Innovative and sustainable solutions

Our 20 years of experience as a specialist slurry seal contractor, have taught us that innovation and sustainability must be higher on the agenda in the highways industry. Slurry sealing footways offers local authorities the highest quality solution with the best lifecycle costs.

Whilst traditional methods for rejuvenating pavements and other surfaces can involve a full reconstruction, breaking up, removing and completely relaying the walkway – which can be costly – slurry sealing footways offers local authorities the highest quality end result, with the best lifecycle costs.

Common quick fix repairs, such as filling and ‘panic patching’ footpaths are temporary and are not providing an effective, long term solution. There are times, of course, when patching is inevitable, but instead of prescribing repairs from a desktop, products and services need to be bespoke and engineered for that specific pothole or defect, tailored to each site, and right first time – it should not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The growing popularity of slurry seal

One of the most successful preventative approaches to degradation is slurry sealing micro-surfacing, especially after the impact our past winters have had. Water and frost are two of the most damaging conditions, accelerating deterioration on our roads and footways. The latter can be treated by slurry seal micro-surfacing, which incorporates bitumen emulsion and fine graded aggregates with fillers. It re-profiles existing surfaces to restore texture and prevent both water ingress and frost damage.

Using this treatment to seal the tarmac decreases deterioration, particularly in the most vulnerable areas of the footpath network, in particular oxidising and oxidised areas. This method of preventative waterproofing could save authorities thousands of pounds each year, not to mention reducing disruption on the roads and associated costs.

Cost effective restoration

A number of contractors nationwide are turning to slurry sealing micro-surfacing as a cost effective surface treatment for footpath restoration and regeneration. Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, for example, worked with us to use slurry sealing for a new footway recycling solution, designed to avoid costly reconstruction.

The process involved removing the existing asphalt and recycling it with a mobile excavating machine. This new recycled material is laid as a new binder course and then overlaid with a thin surface course. This solution meant the whole surface of the pavement could be replaced whilst avoiding the costly process of traditional reconstruction.

It can provide a saving of nearly 15 per cent on standard pavement replacement. It also reduces waste, has a longer lifecycle and means less disruption for residents and road users while improvements are being made. In addition, there is no need to transport materials to site and plant vehicles remain onsite for the process which helps reduce the carbon footprint of the project.

Further road surface innovations

Although Government spending cuts to local authorities present a major challenge for road and footway maintenance, it also brings new opportunities for contractors to be innovative and develop more effective and efficient ways of managing roads. We developed the Rejuvopatch® road surfacing product to provide a cost effective and sustainable method of carrying out a wide range of repairs to defects within bituminous bound surfaces.

The Rejuvopatch® material is a hand lay, cold applied microasphalt patch repair material, made up of specifically blendedemulsion, graded aggregate and matrix supporting reinforcement products. It is suitable as a permanent patching, surface treatment, or pothole repair product. [Case Study]

A more preventative approach can deliver significant savings compared to a reactionary approach. That said, it’s about the right treatment on the right road, at the right time.

Looking ahead

There’s a bright future for highways over the next few years, with innovation playing a big part in driving improvements and delivering real value for money. Sustainability of products and services, such as slurry sealing, will play a larger role in the long term, both in terms of environmental credentials and lifecycle.

Highways maintenance is more than just patching up potholes in roads. It is also about delivering safe pavements and cycle paths, too. As the cold weather sets in, local authorities and councils need to think about their waterproofing and winter maintenance programmes to ensure the weather doesn’t claim the British roads and footpaths once again.


With thanks to the Highways Magazine.