County urges people to drive slow during chip seal work

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Ricarlos Martinez, a laborer with San Juan County Public Works, controls traffic Monday near a chip sealing project on County Road 6100 in Kirtland.

FARMINGTON — San Juan County drivers are being urged to slow down during chip seal work this month and in August.

The county public works department will be doing work on more than a dozen roads totaling 20 miles during July and August, according to a press release from San Juan County.

"Chip sealing is a pavement preservation technique that we use on our paved roads," County Public Works Director Fran Fillerup said.

He said the process includes patching the road and sealing cracks. Then a layer of oil is sprayed and rock chips are placed on top. Crews then compact the chips into the surface.

"It adds another layer of hard surface to the pavement," Fillerup said.

While the crews try to sweep all the extra chips off of the road after completing it, some of the chips remain, according to the press release.

The press release urges drivers to observe a 25 mile per hour speed limit following the chip seal work to prevent flying rocks from damaging windshields. According to the press release, signs will be placed on the roads that have been chip sealed to warn drivers to slow down.

Chip seal work continues Monday on County Road 6100 in Kirtland.

Fillerup said the length of time the gravel chips remain loose on the road depends on the amount of traffic. He said roads with less traffic will have loose chips longer than roads with heavy traffic.

Fillerup said people should slow down while crews are working and continue to drive slow in those zones for about a week after the work is complete.

During a New Mexico Department of Transportation chip seal project last year on La Plata Highway, or N.M. Highway 170, several commuters reported having windshields and windows broken by rocks flung up by other vehicles.

In addition to protecting vehicles from damage, slower speeds will help crews remain safe while they are working on the road and will help them do their job, Fillerup said.

The roads scheduled to be chip sealed include:

  • County roads 1130 and 1149 in La Plata
  • County roads 1636, 1783, 1788 and 1995 located between Farmington and La Plata
  • County Road 2631 northwest of Aztec off of County Road 2900
  • County roads 2553, 25530 and 25531 located between Aztec and Navajo Dam
  • County roads 4990 and 4991 located south of Bloomfield
  • County Road 6575 in the Kirtland area
  • County Road 6100, also known as the Old Kirtland Highway, between its intersection with County Road 6400 in Kirtland east to the Farmington city limits

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at