Asphalt sealant stubbornly streaks cars headed for Steamboat along Colorado Highway 9
Steamboat Springs — Sue Hansen finally got the streaked asphalt sealant off of the red body panels and out of the brake drums on her 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Tuesday. But the guy who had been traveling in front of her on Colorado Highway 9 the day before in a ragtop Corvette didn’t appear to be as fortunate.
Motorists traveling the six miles of Colo. 9 under construction just south of Kremmling in the early afternoon of Labor Day had their vehicles splashed with a gray/brown substance that proved difficult, but not impossible, to remove. Hansen said the substance, which turned out to be asphalt sealant, even affected her brakes, resulting in longer stopping distances.
“It was pouring rain out there,” Hansen said Wednesday. “I’ve never seen it that bad. I took care of it, but my brakes were hardly working.”
The good news is that motorists don’t have to worry about encountering another similar situation this autumn. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Tracy Trulove said Wednesday all of the asphalt sealant that will be applied this fall is down and cured. Paving began Tuesday, she added.
Hansen said she was headed northbound Monday on her way home to Steamboat Springs when the rain began to fall as she approached the construction zone just south of Kremmling where CDOT is re-building and widening the highway. The work also includes installing new wildlife overpasses and underpasses on the route between Steamboat Springs and Interstate 70 at Silverthorne on the way to Denver.
What Hansen could not have anticipated was that construction workers had applied a layer of asphalt sealant called Prime Coat to the gravelly subgrade layer on the road.
Trulove wrote to Shannon Lukens of radio stations KEZZ 94-1, ESPN 98-9 and KBCR in Steamboat that several factors came together last week, which led to a “less-than-desirable application of the prime coat,” with weather being a factor.
“The prime coat requires time to set up before traffic can be placed on it, which greatly depends on the temperatures,” Truelove wrote in an e-mail. “With afternoon rains, the prime coat had difficulties setting up. The contractor…applied a blotter coat of fine sand on top of the prime coat to soak it up. However, the last night the prime coat was applied the blotter truck broke down and couldn’t complete the task.”
Upon returning to Steamboat, Hansen headed for Mountain View Car Wash where they could not send her car through the automated car wash out of concern the asphalt sealant would interfere with the timing clock. A car wash employee confirmed they had added degreaser to the pre-soak and de-bugging cycles on their manual car wash. But Hansen said by the time she arrived, those solutions had been used up by other motorists in the same plight.
“I went back to Mountain Wash the next morning, and they sprayed underneath the car and let it sit and helped me get the stuff out of my brake drums, and then it went through the car wash,” Hansen said.
Trulove wrote in her e-mail that products including BIO Pro HF tar and asphalt remover, WD40, Orange Sol and most degreasers will remove asphalt sealant from vehicles. But she added it’s important to test the products on a car body in an inconspicuous spot before applying.
Hansen said she’s not going to worry further about sealant residue that might remain on the car.
“It’s an ’04,” she said. “I’m not going to sit there with a toothbrush and clean it.”
But that guy in the Corvette? Hansen said she heard its soft top was irretrievably stained.
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Sherry Burlingame never imagined herself as a chief of police.