Laura Valaas


I got an email today as follows:

“Tired of chip sealed roads?”

lav: yes!

“dust, rock chips, asphalt tar on your car. And now you can’t road bike, roller ski, skateboard, skate, etc for several years until it gets worn smooth. And then they just do it again!!!”

lav: well, I kind of like the asphalt-tar-on-the-car look, but I HATE rollerskiing on chip-sealed roads. so awful.

“There are other choices that can be used!”

lav: i know, but they must be cost-prohibitive otherwise no one would chip-seal, right?

Asphalt Seal Coat Options
Source: US Forest service comparative study –

lav: wrong. as i so often am.

“Chelan County has never done a serious review of these more modern sealing practices, and prefer to stick with their “old school” chip seal method as it is what they know well.”

lav: typical

“The County is currently planning to chip seal the White River Road next Wednesday. Please contact Jolene and Keith as soon as possible and ask them to use another method to seal this roadway.”

lav: yes indeed. so i drafted and emailed a letter as follows.

Dear Jolene (Dear Keith),

I have heard that there are plans to chip seal the White River Road next week. While I appreciate everything the county does to maintain the roads and public lands, I would like to draw your attention to several modern alternatives to chip sealing.

(insert table of seal coat options)

While chip sealing has been a common practice in the past, many other WA counties and western states successfully have switched to more bike friendly methods of road sealing. Using chip seal on the roads, especially roads such as the White River road, which are beautiful & popular roads for rollerskiing and cycling, is not only less pleasant for the outdoor enthusiasts in Chelan County, it is a safety hazard. On a smoothly sealed road, I quite happily rollerski or spin my way along the shoulder. If the road is chip sealed I, and every other cyclist or rollerskier I have ever met, will ski or cycle in the vehicle lane where the car tires make the chip seal much smoother than on the shoulder. This is a much more dangerous place to be as a cyclist or rollerskier but new chip seal can quickly cause your hands (cycling) or feet (rollerskiing) to lose sensation, which also has its dangers.

Another solution would be to recommend cylists & rollerskiers to stay home and watch ESPN instead. But is that the message Chelan County wants to give to it’s residents?

Thank you for taking the time to understand my concerns and I do hope you will be willing to explore the alternatives to chip sealing.

Laura Valaas

Feel free to copy and paste my message to Jolene and Keith also (addresses above) even if you’re not local… first one road, then the entire WORLD.

(This Message was brought to you by the friendly folk at Plain Hardware.)

Posted in Current and Snow.

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One Reply

  1. Patrick Stinson Aug 6th 2010

    I said the same thing, but after a while it wears down and actually gets really awesome!

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