The in basket: As I sometimes do, my interest today wanders over
the mountains where Port Orchard’s Allan Limbocker seeks an
explanation of something he encountered near Cle Elum on July
“We were driving from Cashmere to Port Orchard. About 2 p.m. we
encountered a very bad stretch of roadway on Highway 970 just past
the cutoff to Ellensburg.
“The roadway became very hard to navigate,” he said. “It was
like they had just dumped gunk on the road and then just left it.
No workers were visible. Drivers were trying to drive on the
shoulder to avoid having their vehicles coated/splashed with
whatever was on the road.
“Many drivers pulled over and were trying to scrape the gunk off
of their vehicles with sticks or their hands. The substance
was falling onto the road as the cars continued to drive. We
finally stopped in Cle Elum and our truck was a mess.
Some of what Allan brought home
“I am wondering what was on the road, and who is responsible for
the destruction that it caused on multiple vehicles, including
motor homes, boats, and trucks. I did not know what to use to clean
my truck and tried to kind of roll it off. Nothing seemed to work.
That next morning a pile had fallen off of the truck and was just
lying in the driveway.
“This was extremely dangerous and damaging to the vehicles.
He collected some…
The out basket: Allan saw a chip seal operation overtopping a
crack sealing operation, a very common form of inexpensive paving
used by many jurisdictions. Since the common practice is to let
traffic travel over gravel spread atop a layer of oil, letting the
tires help compact the gravel into a driving surface, you wouldn’t
necessarily see work crews.
There often are complaints about rocks flying during the
compaction, but the Cle Elum experience was worse.
In this case, says Mike Westbay of WSDOT’s communications office
there, either rising heat on a hot day or something else caused a
rubberized material used to seal the worst cracks on the highway to
seep up through the oil and gravel.
“Construction vehicles had
driven over it without material sticking to the tires so traffic
signs were taken down and crews were preparing to leave for the
week,” Mike said.
“At about 1 p.m., the rubberized sealant began sticking to
Though the rubberized sealant initially passed inspection, a
of heavy traffic, high temperatures and minimal cure time
combined to allow uncured sealant material to break the surface
stick to the tires of passing traffic.
“Once on the tires, this material adhered to other freshly
exposed more uncured sealant material and expanded the problem.
vehicles traveled west onto the newly chip-sealed section of
project, the sticky substance picked up loose rocks, causing
material to build up on vehicle tires.
Effected drivers should call the WSDOT Risk Management Office at
for instructions on submitting a claim, he said.