County brooms Mission Ridge Road after reports of some tar on vehicles

WENATCHEE – Chelan County Public Works began brooming this week on Mission Ridge Road after receiving reports from drivers who have found a tar-like substance on their vehicles after traveling on the road.

The reports come a year after the county received similar reports from the public. However, investigations this past week show the issue is less severe than last year’s event.

“We took special precautions and care in applying the chip seal on Mission Ridge Road and Forest Ridge Drive this summer, to the extent that the oil supplier experts were on site to verify our standard process. Upon completion, the rock had nice embedment and truly appeared to be one of the better chip seals that was applied,” said Eric Pierson, Chelan County Public Works Director/County Engineer.

“Even with the quality of the chip seal, we have been monitoring the road this winter for any issues,” Pierson continued. “Unfortunately, we are receiving reports of tar on vehicles. While, it doesn’t seem to be widespread like last year, we realize that does not provide any comfort for those impacted.”

A possible cause for the oil particulate on the roadway may be that vehicles' snow tires and county snowplows are grinding the emulsion off the roadway, bringing up some fine particulates, Pierson said.

A chip seal in 2017 failed on Mission Ridge Road and Forest Ridge Drive. The asphalt eroded away and emulsified, leaving a tar-like substance on the roadway. Testing of the materials did not indicate why the chip seal failed. The two roadways had to be scraped down to their sub-surface and the debris hauled away.

This summer, county crews not only re-chip sealed both roadways but also sampled and performed additional testing of the oil used in the chip sealing process instead of relying on the industry standard of having the private oil supplier do so. The 2018 chip seal also was completed earlier in the season, allowing for more curing time before fall and winter conditions hit.

“This is disappointing, for not only the public but the county as well,” Pierson said. “But crews are working hard to mitigate the situation.”

Crews are brooming the roads as well as pushing back snow and creating drainage areas to get water off the roadways. The fine, granulated particles appear to be traveling in the water.

Motorists traveling on the roads are cautioned to avoid driving in pools of water or running water – when safe to do so – to minimize the potential of the particulates spraying onto their vehicles.

Motorists are also reminded not to use hot water (or a hot application) when cleaning their vehicles. Instead, pre-soak your car with cold water, making sure to heavily soak the area covered in the substance. Using a manual car wash or washing your vehicle by hand, remove the substance by wiping or scrubbing it off with a soft brush. Again, use plenty of cold water during the cleaning process.

If this does not work, use a Natural Orange Cleaner degreaser that does not damage paint. Spray the degreaser on the substance, allowing it to sit on the material for a few minutes. Then wipe off or use a soft brush.

Public Works will continue to monitor Mission Ridge Road and Forest Ridge Drive weekly to identify and help mitigate any ongoing tar-like substance that may impact the traveling public for the remainder of the winter.

Last Updated: 05/02/2019 07:50 AM

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