SHENANDOAH - Recently, PennDOT applied an "oil and chip" treatment to Route 924 between Shenandoah and Frackville, more commonly known as the Gold Star Highway, leading to numerous reports on social media regarding broken windshields and other vehicle damage caused by loose stones laid in the treatment.
Why does PennDOT continue to use the treatment? A tight budget and a massive road network - over 40,000 miles - are likely the primary reasons.
Using the Oil-and-Chip method costs on average $15,488 for a 24-foot-wide by 1-mile-long section of road, to the $107,712 to repave the same sized section.
According to PennDOT's Maintenance First publication, the treatment "is used as a way to extend the life of low-traffic-volume roads for another three to five years."
According to PennDOT's Traffic Volume map, the Gold Star Highway between Shenandoah and Frackville had an Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) count of 11,000. AADT is the typical daily traffic on a road segment for all the days in a week, over a one-year period.
According to PennDOT, the treatment is typically used between April and October, when temperatures are greater than 60 degrees.
A crew of 18 highway workers, with a sweeper, oil distributor, a stone chipper, rollers, and numerous dump trucks undertake the operation, when oil is sprayed to the roadway with a layer of fine stone immediately applied on top of the oil, rolled in place with all loose aggregate swept from the roadway once cured.
According to PennDOT, "it takes about two days for the stones to fully bond in the hardened asphalt."
PA Route 924 from Frackville to the Ringtown/Brandonville fork is scheduled to be repaved beginning in the winter of 2018, according to a November, 2016 article in the Hazleton Standard~Speaker.
If your vehicle suffered damage as a result of the treatment, you could file a claim with the commonwealth. Information about doing so can be found on PennDOT's website at http://www.penndot.gov/ContactUs/Pages/District-5.aspx