Gravel on streets, city parking lots

I got this from a local resident a week or so ago:

The city has dumped tons of gravel on nearly new streets, including Jefferson Parkway and Maple and others branching off Jefferson. I’ve never in my life seen dry gravel poured on new blacktop streets. I just don’t get it. It kicks up dust and nicks the paint on cars and gets bounced up in to yards, but serves no purpose at all. Seems a good rain tonight will wash much of it off the roadway.

I thought this was the usual gravel-on-oil-on-blacktop which then gets swept up after a couple of weeks…  a way to extend the life of the blacktop.

Gravel on streets Gravel on streets Gravel on streets

But then today I noticed that the city has painted parking lines over the gravel in the NCRC parking lot.  So it’s evidently permanent. Anybody know what’s going on?


  1. Jerry Bilek said:

    “I thought this was the usual gravel-on-oil-on-blacktop which then gets swept up after a couple of weeks… a way to extend the life of the blacktop.”

    I’m no expert, but they I believe they did oil the street first. the excess gravel was swept a few days ago. the remaining gravel is now stuck to the surface. It could use another sweeping as a lot of loose gravel is still there.

    why the random pattern though? part but not all of Jefferson pkwy and Prairie. Will they do the other parts of the streets later?

    August 6, 2008
  2. Rob Hardy said:

    I toured the city with Brian O’Connell and the America in Bloom judges last week. One of the judges asked about the loose gravel on the streets off Jefferson Parkway, and wrote quite a bit in his notebook about it. I didn’t get a chance to ask him what interested him so much about it.

    August 6, 2008
  3. Lahna Tran said:

    The city came a few weeks ago and did our street. They laid the oil first, then the gravel. After a week or so, the city came back with what appeared to be a street sweeper and swept up much of the loose gravel. The gravel seems to pack into the blacktop more and more as time goes on but still leaves a lighter color on the street. I am wondering why the city just chose a few streets here and there – some streets were only covered halfway up the block so it looks a little choppy and unfinished. I wish they would have chosen rock consistent with what they previously used. Maybe they got a good deal on this light colored stuff?

    August 6, 2008
  4. John S Thomas said:

    One thing about this color of gravel, It is much better for the streets and residents. The tan reflects less surface heat than the standard black asphalt.

    To give you a comparison, walk across the Just Food parking lot, that was just recently redone by the landlord. It uses a black oil resurfacing compound, and it is really uncomfortable on a hot day.

    The color of the gravel serves a purpose by not reflecting so much heat, and its texture will provide more traction in the winter months, as it is more coarse than the standard blacktop.

    I kind of like the color actually, and it would be nice to see it become more widespread. 😎

    August 6, 2008
  5. Lahna Tran said:

    I agree – I think the color of the gravel makes the summer months much more tolerable and it blends in a little better. Hopefully they’ll stick with the color in the future so eventually much of the street scape will be more uniform. 🙂

    August 6, 2008
  6. john george said:

    This is called seal coating. Here is a url I posted in the Target/Wal Mart/K-Mart stream about it.

    It is pretty self explanitory. The “oil” (actually, bitumin) seals the small cracks and the pea-gravel extends the life of the wear surface.

    August 6, 2008
  7. John Thomas,

    I like the lower temperatures of the tan material in the summer, but doesn’t this mean that we have take the other consequence: ice staying on the road longer in the winter? (Meaning more salt and sand to combat it, more dangerous driving conditions for more hours on more days, etc…)

    When I’m Mayor, I will pass ordinances against ice on the roads. If it loiters for too long, I will issue steep fines against the weather system responsible. If the weather doesn’t pay, I’ll file secret charges against it in a neighboring climate.

    August 7, 2008
  8. Scott Neal said:

    The process used by the city of Northfield to chip seal its streets is normal. Most cities do it, including the City I work for – Eden Prairie. The concept is to place a sticky material on the street surface and then to place a new layer of rock on top of the sticky material. The new layer of rock provides additional surface area for vehicles to drive on, which increases the life of the street.

    Personally, I don’t like it because it’s a mess and I think it makes the streets look bad. But, its utilitarian function outweighs my personal preferences.

    August 7, 2008
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Scott, this gravel is MUCH larger than the pea-sized gravel used in the past. I don’t see how I’ll be able to skateboard on it. Look at that middle photo.

    August 7, 2008
  10. Jerry Bilek said:

    It was hard on my road bike for a while with that much loose rock, but the Africabike handled it fine.

    August 7, 2008
  11. Patrick Enders said:

    The gravel doesn’t look particularly different from stuff I’ve seen many times, in many places.

    Give it a month, and it’ll probably settle in just fine.

    Oh, and I like the color.

    August 7, 2008
  12. john george said:

    Patrick- Does that mean you think our street department really rocks?

    August 7, 2008
  13. Amanda Ohaks said:

    Living in a family community, I think it not only looks stupid, but It prevents the kids from being able to actually use the road. They can’t rollerblade, skateboard, or even walk across the road without shoes on. The kids down the street use to play street hockey in the road, and now they can’t. It dusts up my car and honestly makes me angry whenever I turn onto my road.

    August 10, 2008
  14. samantha ohaks said:

    i agree with my sister the day that they did the roads everyone thought that they were going to put tar on the road after the rocks settled down. now no one is able to rollerblade, skateboard. and me i always rollerblade my dogs and i cant even do that at all anymore. it makes me and everyone eles angry about it.

    August 11, 2008