Use of Surface Treatments to Extend Pavement Life: A Case Study on US 301, Sussex County, Virginia

Report No: 20-R26

Published in 2020

About the report:

Typical maintenance activities by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for existing asphalt pavements involving a periodic placement of a 1.5-in to 2-in layer of asphalt concrete are becoming increasingly costly.  When applied at the right time, pavement preservation treatments can restore a smooth, safe driving surface while saving money on future rehabilitation costs.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of three preventive maintenance treatments applied to US 301 in Sussex County, Virginia, to extend pavement life.  This report documents the installation of a cape seal application of FiberMat (i.e., FiberMat with microsurfacing on top) over an existing asphalt pavement.  FiberMat is designed to act as a crack-resistant membrane and incorporates two applications of polymer-modified asphalt emulsion with a layer of fiberglass strands between them.  The study also included a performance comparison with more conventional VDOT surface treatment options: regular cape seal (chip seal with microsurfacing),and microsurfacing without a chip seal. 

Three years after the treatment application, a visual survey complemented by automated distress data from VDOT’s Pavement Management System showed that the section with FiberMat and microsurfacing performed well with very little reflective cracking.  The chip seal with microsurfacing (i.e., regular cape seal) also performed well, but reflective cracking was higher compared to the fiber-reinforced section.  The control section (microsurfacing only)showed extensive cracking after 3 years. This study showed that pavement preservation activities such as the use of fiber-reinforced chip seal with microsurfacing and modified single seal with microsurfacing improved both the pavement condition and the surface characteristics in a very cost-effective manner.  Based on this study, the unit cost of fiber-reinforced cape seal was$5.95/yd2 and that of conventional cape seal was $3.99/yd2.  In comparison, the average cost of a 2-in mill and fill corrective maintenance treatment with a conventional asphalt plant mixture in VDOT’s Hampton Roads District was $10.35/yd2.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

  • D. Stephen Lane, Kevin K. McGhee, P.E

Last updated: November 9, 2023

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