That Odd Road Noise Is Not Your Tires

Picture 3Have you noticed a strange sound while driving on some new sections of pavement in our area? If you commute on Route 7 you may have noticed that the eastbound section between Hamilton and Clarke’s Gap generates a strange buzzing sound. This same phenomenon has been observed by residents who travel on roads in Winchester and Prince William County.

To find out what might be causing this, we asked   VDOT if anything had changed in the composition of new pavement or the way that it is applied. Our question eventually landed in the email of   David Shiells, District Materials Engineer for VDOT. Mr Shiells explained that the mysterious sound is being caused by the use of a latex slurry seal.

“Latex slurry seal is a preventive maintenance application that is less than ½” thick and is designed to seal the pavement surface against moisture intrusion.”

The noise it seems is a product of the   newness of the coating Shiells explained, “When initially laid down, it does appear to have a slight hum which is what the commuters are noticing.”

This process, also referred to as micro-surfacing, helps prevent moisture intrusion, and gives the pavement a uniform appearance. Moisture in the pavement is particularly damaging in freezing weather and leads to the formation of potholes and accelerated deterioration of the riding surface. Latex slurry is applied cold and dries within   30 minutes of application. This technique is used primarily for higher volume, higher speed streets such as arterials and collector streets.

Shiells noted that,”The use of slurry seal and other cost effective preventive maintenance applications are a necessity in tight financial times to maintain the quality of our pavements.”