Anyone who has been annoyed recently by the "Top Coat" process Penn DOT is using to "seal" highways should consider taking action to have this process permanently halted. I know absolutely no one who supports the practice of smearing emulsion and limestone on a macadam surface. There are a few engineers who swear that it is a necessary evil but I challenge them to list the number of states that actually utilize this repulsive practice with any real success.
First, it should be called by its real name. This process is "Tar and Chipping" plain and simple.
Our motorists are forced to expose their automobiles to the abrasive loose limestone that will blast the finish off of an automobile in seconds. Any tramp emulsion that is not stabilized by the limestone chips will find its way onto the fenders and rocker panels of our cars.
Homeowners who have the misfortune to live adjacent to a tar and chipped road will experience the odor, noise, and filth as traffic passes and begins to pulverize the chips into a fine white dust that coats our vehicles and homes. Some of us have even had to deal with emulsion running onto our property.
I believe that the greatest injustice of all however, has been visited upon the crews who are forced to work with this process. I watched as unprotected crews worked all day in a heavy white cloud of limestone dust tainted with petroleum fumes.
The easiest and most obvious answer is to ban this process. Tar & chipping highways was a product of the Great Depression when it served as a measure to improve rural dirt roads. I do not believe that it was ever meant to "seal coat" a macadam surface.
Personally, I am motivated to take certain measures on my own. I will be asking Penn DOT to provide me with complete data and MSDS forms for all of the ingredients utilized in tar & chipping. The public has a right to know what we are being exposed to. I will be filing a citizens complaint to OSHA regarding the lack of measures taken to protect the road crews. I will be suggesting that the State Police vigorously enforce a greatly reduced speed limit in tar and chipped areas for a period of at least 30 days after Penn DOT befouls the road surface. In addition, I will be filing an application for the reduction of my property taxes since I no longer have the benefit of living next to a macadam paved highway.
Richard J. Reiff, Jr.