Highway officials will be testing a new thin overlay on an Interstate 29 ramp in Kansas City, North, to see if it helps reduce the number of crashes, especially the number of vehicles that run off the road when drivers lose control on a curve.
The Kansas City district of the Missouri Department of Transportation hopes to have the new high-friction surface treatment installed this summer on the ramp from southbound I-29 to southbound Interstate 635. It should take a weekend to get it in place.
“It goes down like any other asphalt treatment that we have,” said Laurel McKean, a district traffic engineer.
“The difference is it is a kind of a tack layer with a higher, more durable rock and larger rock that sticks up such that your tires grab to the rocks more and you get better control with that surface.”
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Once put in place, drivers will notice a difference.
“When we typically put down asphalt, we are trying to get a smooth ride,” McKean said. “This will actually feel a little bit rougher and their tires may sing a little more.”
The benefit is that the tires will feel like they are sticking to the road better.
“With the larger rocks, your tires are going to grip more to them,” she said.
The high-friction surface treatment has been used in other parts of the nation.
“They have found great success with this treatment,” McKean said.
“They have seen at least around 90 percent reduction in crashes where they have deployed this treatment.”
Two years ago, the Missouri department tested the treatment on U.S. 54 in Jefferson City and had positive results.
The I-29 project is among nine throughout the state funded through a nearly $1 million federal grant.
In addition to curves, the treatment could be used on grades and intersections.
The department picked the I-29 ramp as a test because it’s an area where drivers run off the road.
“After we saw the crash types and what was occurring, we thought this would be a good one for us to see if this can help,” she said. “We are very excited to get this opportunity to test another safety countermeasure and see how it works.”