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Unpaved Road Chemical Treatment Selection Tool

The rural road network is just as critical to the Nation's economy as the Interstate system, but a large percentage of the sealed low volume part of it (carrying less than 400 vehicles per day) is way past its use-by date. Long gone are the days where funding was available to overlay or reseal at optimal intervals, which begs the question whether some of the very lightly trafficked roads (less than 100 vpd) should have been surfaced in the first place if funds to reseal them after 8 to 10 years were unlikely to be available. Hindsight is of course easy, but rather than dwell on what should have been, we have to explore what can we do with what we have. Continue trying to maintain them with band-aids, or "upgrade" them to an engineered unpaved standard? Agencies nationwide are increasingly favoring the latter option because these roads are easier to maintain, and chemical treatments can be used to keep the surface material in place and reduce dust to the extent that they can resealed at a later date with minimal additional cost if sustainable funds become available. That said, we must build and maintain them properly, because under no circumstances should we ever make an already road even worse.

David Jones, Associate Director, University of California Pavement Research Center Chair, Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Low Volume Roads

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