Extending Roadway Lifespans with Micro-Surfacing

By Andrew Hipolit
Micro-surface application

Micro-surface application

With another severe winter under our belts, New Jersey’s roadways are emerging from the layers of snow, ice, and salt with the usual signs of damage. Road program budgets are limited, and many communities are left wondering what affordable options exist for fixing or preventing the potholes and cracks plaguing their local streets. The level of maintenance required by pavement is constant and expensive, and municipalities cannot afford to continually perform full milling and paving on every road. But a little-known process called micro-surfacing may be just the answer these communities are seeking. An extremely versatile and low-cost tool for road maintenance, micro-surfacing (also called micro-paving) is the application of a thin emulsified asphalt coating that adheres to existing roadway surfaces. Similar to driveway sealant but with a ¼” thickness, micro-surfacing “seals” the road and prevents water and frost from penetrating the surface and causing the freeze and thaw damage so prevalent in New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure. This process can extend the life of existing pavement in good condition and offers municipalities an affordable option that can be strategically woven into their current roadway maintenance programs.

Finished roadway surface

Finished roadway surface

We successfully utilized micro-surfacing on several streets last year in the Boroughs of Montvale and Tenafly. Our municipal engineers coordinated with each Borough’s respective Department of Public Works to perform Pavement Management Studies and evaluate which roads met the criteria for micro-surfacing. The micro-surfacing process can be used only on streets that have less than 30% deterioration from their original surface condition, but once it has been applied, it can significantly extend the life of the road. For comparison, performing a full milling and re-paving process to an average suburban municipal roadway can cost about $250,000 and lasts between 10 and 20 years. Micro-surfacing the same road costs about $20,000 and lasts approximately 5-8 years. This means you can potentially micro-surface the same road three times for about a quarter of the cost of one mill and pave, over the same period of time. By introducing Tenafly and Montvale to the micro-surfacing process, Maser Consulting gave these municipalities a viable option for their roadway repair and maintenance programs, enabling them to extend the life of their eligible roadways in good condition while subsequently helping keep the need for a more expensive milling and paving process at bay.

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