September 2023
A Roadmap to Roadway Jargon
Like almost any industry, infrastructure has a whole language to itself that can seem mysterious to anyone outside it. Here at Driving Northern Kentucky Progress, we try to translate the work the construction team is doing into layman’s terms - but in the spirit of back-to-school, we’re going to introduce you to some of the jargon the professionals use when talking about roadwork. How many of these do you recognize, and which ones are new to you?
  • Definition: Materials like sand, gravel, rock, or crushed stone that’s mixed with a binding agent to create asphalt concrete.
  • Purpose: Various layers of aggregate are used on top of one another to create a solid, supportive roadway.

Chip Seal
  • Definition: A two-step process that combines a layer of aggregate followed by a special seal coat.
  • Purpose: This covers any imperfections on the surface, improves friction, and adds a new wear surface. This can extend the life of a road and make it better for drivers.

Diamond Grinding
  • Definition: A process that uses diamond-tipped saw blades to shave the upper surface of a pavement.
  • Purpose: This can remove bumps, restore pavement rideability, and improve friction.

Mill and Fill
  • Definition: A pavement rehabilitation process that involves removing the surface layer of pavement and then refilling it with new or recycled hot mix asphalt.
  • Purpose: This creates a smooth ride by eliminating tire ruts and other defects.

  • Definition: A process where compressed air is used to blow sand particles at a pavement surface to clean it.
  • Purpose: This is a construction step in patching and joint resealing.

Traffic Calming
  • Definition: Street designs and traffic rules like traffic circles, raised crosswalks, speed bumps and medians.
  • Purpose: These measures are designed to slow and reduce traffic, especially in areas where pedestrians and cyclists spend time.

Rumble Strips
  • Definition: Rumble strips are pavement markings that create noise and vibration when a vehicle moves over them. They can be raised or milled. Raised rumble strips are pavement markers placed on top of the road, but they’re typically used in locations where snow plowing isn’t a concern. Milled rumble strips are more common, and they’re dug into the pavement to create the needed noise and vibrations.
  • Purpose: This loud noise and vibration alert drivers when they leave the lane or roadway to encourage them to return the vehicle to where it’s supposed to be.

Each road construction project has different needs, but our teams use many of these processes, materials, and strategies in the work they do.
What are roads actually made from?

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably heard the words asphalt, concrete, and blacktop throughout your lifetime, but do you know the differences between them? Why would one be chosen over another? Let’s take a look at answers to these pressing questions.

  • Asphalt: A composite mix of aggregate and asphalt binder (obtained through petroleum processing) that’s used most often for road and parking lot construction.
  • Concrete: A mix of cement, sand, gravel, and water.
  • Blacktop: A generic term for asphalt.

Concrete is more expensive than asphalt, but it can hold up better and require less maintenance. Concrete can also be damaged by salt in the winter when it’s new, which can be problematic in areas that frequently get ice and snow. Asphalt is easier to repair and replace, especially if access is needed to the utilities underneath.

KYTC evaluates each construction project to make the determination of which roadway surface is best for that particular project.
Project Updates

Remember, the Mt. Zion Rd. and Richwood Rd. project areas are still active construction sites. Please drive with caution as crews continue to work on the project. Watch for flaggers and lane closures through the end of construction season.
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