Waterloo Region is hoping that the dust clouds hanging over Arthur Street South earlier this week will be a sign of safer roads come winter.
On Monday, regional road crews applied a sealer called Reclamite to the asphalt. The sealer adds oil to the asphalt to reduce oxidation and also adds plasticity, which reduces cracking in the freeze-thaw cycles of winter.
The region’s transportation department is studying the sealer to see whether it also reduces accidents caused by poor winter road conditions.
In 2006, the sealer was applied to Bridge Street in Waterloo between Ebycrest and the Woolwich Township boundary. In the winters following, transportation staff noticed the number of winter accidents on the road dropped significantly.
For the four years before application, there was an average of seven collisions related to winter collisions. In the two winters after, there was an average of 2.5 collisions.
Nancy Button, manager of transportation engineering, said the road treated with Reclamite appeared to ice up less because the salt applied by snow removal trucks stayed on better.
Bob Henderson, superintendent of traffic engineering, said the region drew up a shortlist of rural roads on which to further study the Reclamite. Arthur Street was at the top of the list because the pavement was in good condition and winter accidents were frequent enough to have data to study.
Reclamite was sprayed on the asphalt on Monday, and sand was spread over top to reduce tracking and provide traction. The region will monitor the road over the next few winters.
Henderson said Reclamite will extend the life of the pavement by five years. The region budgeted $70,000 for the application of the sealer.