By Gaige Davila
Cars driving to and from Brownsville on Highway 48, or San Benito by way of FM 510, in the last week may have been the unlucky victims of paving projects gone wrong.
On social media, Laguna Madre residents complained of damaged windshields and bumpers from loose gravel hitting their vehicles at high speeds. The gravel is from recent paving done on the roads.
The paving project, led by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), was done late last week, according to Octavio Saenz, Public Information Officer with TxDOT’s Pharr office.
Saenz said recent rain and traffic prevented the pavement coating, called sealcoat, from staying. The oil in the sealcoat did not adhere to the gravel that creates the new layer of pavement, Saenz said, causing the gravel to become loose.
“We ask the public to maintain safe driving distances between vehicles and to slow down if necessary,” Saenz told the PRESS in an email.
TxDOT spends nearly $180 million to maintain 186,600 miles of roads in Texas. Sealcoats last between 6 and 8 years, Saenz said, or up to 20 if treated correctly.
Saenz said roads are selected for sealcoat treatment based on the condition of the existing pavement; the effectiveness of a seal coat in addressing the existing pavement deficiencies; cost of the seal coat compared to other treatments; traffic volume; percent of truck traffic; and repairs needed prior to the seal coat.
Saenz said TxDOT is currently sweeping the excess gravel from the roads.