Missoula’s Annual Chip Seal Program at Work

City of Missoula Street Maintenance Division crews will be hard at work applying oil and chips to city streets as part of the City’s annual Street Maintenance Chip Seal Program, which runs July 20 through Aug. 6.

Missoula annually seals the surface of about 100 blocks of its streets using the chip seal method.

The oil and chip application process seals the asphalt surface from weather erosion and extends the life of the pavement in the same way as painting a home protects it. Sealing streets delays reconstruction, reduces the number of potholes, and saves dollars and disruption for Missoula’s residents. The City initiated this annual program in 1987. In the 33 years of the street maintenance program, the City has sealed a majority of the eligible streets and has started the next phase of street preservation by returning to many of the streets sealed and protected early in the program. The City also chip seals new asphalt after one year in order to start the preservation process from the beginning of the pavement’s life.

The chip seal project takes two to three weeks to complete and should wrap up around Aug. 6, weather permitting. Expect slight traffic delays throughout the project. Drivers and cyclists will see loose chip rock left on the streets for two to three weeks, then street sweepers will clean up the chips. Motorcyclists and bicyclists should go slowly during this period to avoid sliding. For the
next year, the street will have a rough surface due to the rock chips and will also have some loose rock that will be swept up when streets are cleaned.

Street Maintenance Division crews will place barricades on residential streets with on-street parking in advance of the chip seal operation. The streets benefiting from this year’s chip seal surfacing are listed in our chip seal flyer in the tentative order in which they will be completed. Weather and/or workload could change the schedule.