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Roads - surface dressing

Every year, we improve the county's 9,000km of roads with a programme of surface dressing.

Surface dressing offers a quick, efficient and cost-effective way of maintaining skid-resistant and waterproofed road surfaces, helping to prevent future deterioration. It's not popular with road users, mainly because of the loose chippings which are an inevitable part of the process. However, the speed of the operation - and the short time motorists are inconvenienced  - is an important benefit.

We carry out surface dressing because it:

  • Improves skid resistance, making the road safer to drive on;
  • Makes the road waterproof and protects it against frost and winter damage;
  • Extends the life of the carriageway surface by up to ten years;
  • Is comparatively low-cost at just a fifth of the price of resurfacing. This means that we can treat a much larger proportion of the road network each year- 200 miles of roads can be surface dressed for the cost of resurfacing 40 miles;
  • Prevents much more expensive work being needed later; and
  • The duration of operations causes less inconvenience to the motorist.

Surface dressing work is undertaken between mid-March and the end of August because the process requires warm, dry weather to make sure the dressing becomes established. Loose chippings may initially be a problem and that's why there is a speed limit of 20mph during the early life of the dressing. It is important that traffic is allowed onto the new surface as chippings only become fully embedded under the action of vehicle tyres. The new surface is left for 14 days to allow the chippings to embed, after which point any residual chippings can be swept up before road markings are repainted.

It is important to keep to the temporary speed limits and avoid sharp turns, this will:

  • Allow the surface to stabilise; and
  • Prevent any damage to your vehicle.

Report a highway problem online

If the issue is causing an immediate danger to the safety of road users, it is classified as an emergency. You should contact us by telephone to report an emergency rather than using our online form. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am - 5.30pm. Dial 999 outside office hours for our emergency service.

You can tell us about the issue by registering / logging in to the 'my account' section of the website. 'My account' also allows you to view details of services you have previously applied, booked and paid for. You can also see updates on their progress.

If you prefer, you can tell us about a highway issue anonymously, but please be aware that you will miss out on the benefits of having an account ie. you will not receive progress updates.

You can provide feedback about your experience of reporting a highway issue here.

Check the progress of a previously reported highway issue

Updates to issues you reported whilst logged into your account are available here.

Roads - surface dressing - frequently asked questions

This page was last updated on 22 November 2016