With the arrival of high summer, it seems like half of Minneapolis' roads have regressed back to their earliest days as dust-and-gravel tracks through the woods. On some roads, this can be an improvement—it's been harder to see and feel the bumps and potholes on parts of West 36th Street, for example—but most of the time it's a nuisance that slows traffic and makes bicycling hazardous.
Eventually, the gravel mess gets cleaned up once enough of it gets pressed into the road. But why subject residents to the gravel mess when some roads are so bumpy they seem in need of a whole new surface?
In a word: money.
"Seal coating is done to help extend the life of the road surface," city officials said in a statement emailed out Tuesday afternoon. "The general rule is that new pavement gets seal coated one year after installation and then on a seven-year cycle, with two to three seal coats for the life of the pavement."
Repaving costs much more than simple seal coating (a city fact sheet says all this 2012 work will only cost $1.4 million)and seal coating helps keep water out of cracks that have formed in recent years, thus preventing potholes from forming this coming winter and spring.
A full map of which streets will be hit and at what times is available on the City of Minneapolis website.