Every few years on a rolling programme most the roads in the parish receive a new surface coating of stone chippings, rather than explain the finer details of the process take a look at The Idiots Guide To Highway maintenance, a really excellent and detailed web site about how our roads are maintained.
This series of photographs were taken on 22nd July 2010 as the B660 was being resurfaced from the Lutton crossroads to Great Gidding.
We all know something is imminent when the signs appear and the road sweeper starts hoovering up beyond the village boundary. Above we see the convoy of vehicles proceeding down the hill. Traffic management is by stop/go boards and radio communication.
The bitumen or tar lorry as they were known is always a site to behold, clouds of water vapour emerging from the spray applicator as the hot bitumen meets the cooler atmosphere.
This is the crunch part of the operation, the bitumen emulsion being sprayed out on to the road surface quickly followed up the stone spreader with an 8 wheeler tipper keeping the spreader topped up. The rate of application of bitumen and the stone chippings will have been predetermined in the contract. The idiots guide to highway maintenance will inform you of these things in greater detail. Click the link and have a read.
The stone spreader operator has a commanding view of the operation, he has to judge forward speed and the width of spread whilst keeping an eye on the hopper load.
The job has several hazards, passing traffic, moving machinery, hot liquids and obstructions to deal with such as overhanging branches that get hooked up on the passing tipper lorry.
Immediately following the first stone spreader another one follows on putting a finer layer of chippings down.
To make sure that the chippings adhere to the bitumen base layer, road rollers are used to compress the two elements together. Road rollers have evolved from the first steam rollers, diesel powered rollers, multi tyred rollers and now site rollers. Another useful reference site is the Road Rollers Association
Finally as the convoy makes its way to Great Gidding we see some of the work force in a lighter moment. These chaps are the stop /go board operators for traffic approaching from behind. Now the road has been resurfaced it takes on the feel of a skid pan as loose stone chippings accumulate. This is where drivers always observe the speed limit signs and drive diligently according to the road conditions. A road sweeper will follow up this operation with two or three passes in the forthcoming weeks.