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The City Journals

Summertime is slurry time for West Valley City streets

Jul 27, 2020 02:09PM ● By Darrell Kirby

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

It has long been joked that Utah has two seasons—winter and road construction. 

While perhaps not that extreme in West Valley City, the state’s second most-populous city has its own busy schedule of summertime road work. 

It comes in the form of crews applying asphalt slurry seal to a number of West Valley City streets this time of the year to protect and prolong the useful life of the thoroughfares.  

Asphalt slurry seal is a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion and small crushed rock known as aggregate. Put it together and you have a black coating that is spread over the roadway to prevent cracks from widening and the overall deterioration of the pavement. 

“It’s a preservation technique,” said Erik Brondum, operations engineer for West Valley City’s Public Works Department and overseer of the slurry seal projects. “It kind of seals in the existing pavement and provides a new wearing course and gives you a little more grip on the road.”

He says West Valley City started applying slurry to roads nearly 30 years ago and tries to cover each street with it every six years. A typical application is about ⅜ of an inch thick.

Slurry seal differs from crack sealing where individual cracks are covered to prevent moisture from seeping in and creating bigger gaps because of the winter freeze-thaw cycle. “If we had our way, we’d do both on every (street). The more we crack seal, the better the slurry works,” Brondum said. 

He says a visual inspection of every city street is done annually to assess the condition of the asphalt pavement. That helps determine how roads are prioritized for slurry seal. 

The treatment runs about $1.10 a square yard, Brondum said. Crews will cover about 600,000 square yards this summer between mid-June and mid-August. 

Brondum says most residents whose streets are closed for the better part of a day for the slurry application understand the need for the work, but there are some exceptions. “Some people don’t understand if it’s an old road and it’s falling apart and they’re like ‘why are you putting this on there? We need a new road.’” 

Residents whose streets are due for slurry seal are given advance notice through flyers placed on their doors. A full schedule and map of areas to receive the pavement treatment is available at www.wvc-ut.gov/193/Slurry-Seal-Schedule-Maps.

West Valley City has nearly 400 miles of streets within its 36 square miles, a distance that would stretch to Las Vegas. The vast majority are owned and kept up by the city, but some like Redwood Road, 3500 South and 5600 West are maintained by the state.