Dear Editor:

I’m no Roads Scholar, but it’s time for me to express my displeasure with our highways being repaved using the “simply awful” chip and seal method.

For many years, chip and seal was used on county blacktops, being an inexpensive method of maintaining these back roads. Using this treatment on a major thoroughfare would have been unthinkable.

Now, all Indiana highways are getting the black, rough, noisy and just plain ugly treatment, plus they appear to have been run over with a broad-tooth comb, leaving longitudinal grooves. These grooves are particularly disturbing if one is on a motorcycle, as the front wheel tends to do an ongoing squirmy dance.

It has come to pass that there is no state highway into or out of Rush County that has not been given this (mis)treatment. Highways 3 and 44 in both directions have fallen victim. U.S. 52, a national highway, has been “ground off,” a nasty but necessary intermediate phase of repaving. This condition has remained for a long time--who knows when the final top layer will be installed. Of greater interest is whether U.S. 52 will be given proper conventional repaving, or if it, too, will receive the dreaded chip and seal surface. (I have written to both the state and federal highway departments seeking this information, but have not yet received a reply, although replies are promised via canned messages.)

Presumably this new (for highways) treatment is being done as a money-saving act, and perhaps it is cheaper than the traditional and proper method of repaving. It certainly should be.

I would hesitate to say that the heavy hands of lobbyists for the crushed limestone, liquid tar, and tire industries might be detected here, but it is a thought.

I consider a little piece of “Road Heaven” to be State Road 3 from the Rush/Decatur line down to Greensburg. It’s the only slice of good state road remaining. It remains to be seen when it will also be converted to the nasty chip and seal surface.

While this method of treating highways may indeed save governments some money, no one has mentioned the millions of tires that will be worn out before their time by the new rough, rasp-like surface. Tire dealers should be delighted.

The chips used in chip and seal are like billions of tiny razors. While some of those edges may be softened somewhat by the liquid tar poured upon them, the damaging surface remains.

Perhaps some expert from the Department of Transportation will successfully debunk every claim laid out in this letter. If they’re sufficiently convincing, I’ll backtrack.

But I’ll never backtrack from declaring that the chip and seal method is a major step backward in our infrastructure; sadly, I fear, just one example of many ongoing steps backward for our state and nation.

If you have an opinion, pro or con, I invite you to write me at

Best regards,

Norm Voiles

Citizen of Rush County; native of Decatur County


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