By Mark Beatty / Published November 2023
This is a serious question. By the way, the topic of this article is about how to effectively extend the life of the asphalt streets in your private community, but the right answer to this question is vitally important to covering the topic. So which shoe is the best? A wingtip or a sneaker? Before you answer, let’s describe a situation. Let’s say you are at the local YMCA and some friends invite you to play some pick-up basketball. Which pair of shoes do you lace up? Obviously, the sneaker would be the best choice to ensure the proper traction and support for manuvering on the court.
Now, how do shoe types have anything to do with preserving asphalt? Maybe once a week I’m asked what the best surface treatment is for preserving streets. Of course, it depends greatly on the circumstances. If the situation was different in our shoe example and it was changed to pick the best shoe for attending a corporate board meeting, the sneakers would be kept in the closet and a gentleman would likely slip on the wingtips and a lady the dress shoes.
This is similar to preserving your asphalt streets. There is not a universal “best surface treatment.” There are several different “best surface treatments” depending upon the condition, age, and use of your asphalt roadways. For example, if your road receives heavy traffic and the traffic flows at higher speeds, the best preservation treatment may be a chip seal. Yes, there are some significant side effects, such as aggregate shedding and a rougher texture that will frustrate some residents. But again, depending upon the road use and the speeds on the roads, a rougher texture may be a benefit as skid resistance tends to improve. In this circumstance, a chip seal is the correct shoe.
But if the circumstances are different and the roads are community streets that have a lower traffic volume and lower speeds, then there is a different shoe, er, I mean surface treatment, that is best. The priority for selecting a preservation treatment transitions to one that can effectively prevent damage from the sun and rain, which accelerate the oxidative damage and hardening of the asphalt binder leading to cracking and deterioration. For this case, the best performance and value is found with installations of a High Density Mineral Bond (HA5) to extend the life of roadways and increase the aesthetics of a neighborhood.
Private communities need to know what “shoe” to get bids for. So often I see communities put out a bid for street sealing. Their bid request has no requirement beyond “seal the streets.” When contractors are responding to this type of bid request, they generally provide a bid for a seal coat because it’s the cheapest type of sealer you can have applied and only requires a pick-up truck and 500-gallon tank. My plea is for board members and community managers to become better educated on the basic benefits and capabilities of the asphalt surface treatments available in Florida.
What’s the best way to get the education you need? My recommendation is to have a state-approved pavement management instructor through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation instruct your board on the basics before requesting bids or implementing a plan. They can provide a pavement management orientation in 90 minutes or less. Contact me at email@example.com and request an approved instructor to contact you, and I’ll pass on the contact information of someone who can help.
Senior Vice President, Holbrook Asphalt Company
Mark Beatty is on the Advisory Board for the International Pavement Management Association and consults with public agencies and HOAs throughout the U.S. He is a sought-after presenter at public works events as well as HOA seminars. Mark serves as the Sr. Vice President at Holbrook Asphalt Company. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.