Road maintenance crews provide a variety of services throughout the year. Weather directly impacts what services crews are able to perform. During the spring months, they are typically repairing pipes, spraying weeds, crack sealing, ditching, blading, mowing, repairing chip seal and asphalt roads, and rocking gravel roads.
Summer and fall months are construction season, and chip seal and asphalt repair, mowing and pavement marking are the primary services. During winter months, crews are snow fighting, brushing and ditching, and completing other miscellaneous duties.
Typical Road Maintenance Activities
As part of the County's asphalt maintenance program, Public Works annually chip seals some of the asphalt roads in the unincorporated area. Chip seal is a highly cost effective way to maintain, protect, and extend the life of an asphalt road. The Public Works Department first implemented the chip seal program back in 2007, and each year chip seals an average of 30 miles. By self-performing the chip seal, the cost is about $12,000 per mile versus an overlay cost of about $100,000 per mile.
A thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by the placement of "chips" (small rocks). The chips are then compacted to orient them for maximum adherence to the asphalt and the excess chips are swept from the surface. A few days following the chip seal application, traffic will notice loose chips on the road. This is a normal part of the process and traffic will further help to embed the chips into the asphalt. While the road "cures" over the next couple of weeks, loose chips may be swept up again and new pavement markings are painted.
Maintain, Protect and Extend the Life
Chip seal is a common preventive maintenance activity, with many state road agencies and cities across the nation using it. It helps to protect the pavement from the effects of sun and water, increases skid resistance, and fills small cracks and other surface defects. Many studies about the performance and effectiveness of chip seal have been done, and chip seal is agreeably one of the most economical treatments for paved roads. Chip seal extends the life of an asphalt pavement by up to seven years, thus saving county taxpayers money.
A dust control cost sharing program involves spraying a product onto the gravel road in front of homes to help reduce the dust. To be eligible for this program, residents must be living on a gravel road in the unincorporated area of Johnson County. The program covers a 400-foot treatment area, and the county will pay for half of the cost to apply the product while the resident pays the other half. Additional footage must be paid by the resident at 100%.
The Dust Control Cost Share Program for 2023 is now available. The application form and payment are due May 5, 2023.
How does the program work?
To be eligible for this program, you must be living on a gravel road in the unincorporated area of Johnson County. The cost share program covers a 400-foot treatment placed in front of your house. Additional footage must be paid by the resident at 100%.
Application of the dust control treatment is regularly planned for early June, depending on the weather and demand for the program. Public Works crews will prepare the road in front of a resident's house a few days prior to application.
After application and during periods of rain, the road will briefly be a little wet and sticky. During this time, drive slowly to reduce the amount of material kicked up onto your vehicle.
There are no guarantees as to the effectiveness and longevity of the dust control treatment. Annual reapplication is recommended.
Public Works will attempt to minimize maintenance of the dust control areas to maximize its life and effectiveness. However, if road conditions require maintenance, Public Works will maintain the road as required which can affect the performance of the dust control. Neither refund nor re-treatment will be made.
How does dust control work?
Johnson County uses a magnesium chloride dust control treatment. The product is sprayed onto the road, creating a cement-like surface. While the road will still look like a gravel road, the dust created by traffic will be significantly reduced.
Effectiveness and duration of the magnesium chloride treatment varies with traffic and weather conditions. It's anticipated that treatment will last through the dry summer months. Public Works will attempt to minimize maintenance of the dust control areas to maximize its life and effectiveness. However, if road conditions require maintenance, Public Works will maintain the road as required, which can affect the performance of the dust control.
General maintenance consists of routine blading and adding gravel, as needed. Blading helps to preserve the shape of the road, smooth down any surface irregularities, and recover material back to the road surface. The addition of gravel increases the stability of the road. General maintenance is performed all year round to help prevent washboarding, ruts, pot holes, loss of aggregate and most importantly, to maintain a safe road for motorists.
Living on a gravel road
Johnson County has grown substantially in the past 20 years, with a number of residents choosing to live in the rural areas. The county's road system was essentially built for low-volume farm use. Today, roughly 135 miles of gravel roads still remain in Johnson County. Because residents are choosing the "country life," many are now living on these gravel roads. Unless you have previously lived on a gravel road, you may not be aware of the issues that come from living on an unpaved road. These are a few things residents encounter:
- Road Dust: It is everywhere (in the air, on your vehicle, in your house)
- Mud and Loose Material: After a rain event, the roadway surface can become soft and surface material may be thrown off tires and stick to vehicles
- Gravel Road Conditions: The condition of gravel roads changes quickly, and roads often have pot holes, rutting, and washboarding.
- Snow/Ice: Snow and ice cannot be treated, like on paved roads. Snow will be plowed after three inches of accumulation.
Right of Ways
Snow and Ice Removal
Public Works is responsible for snow and ice removal in the unincorporated area.
The department's goal during winter weather is to achieve and maintain safe traffic movement on public roadways, within a reasonable period of time. Crews are committed to providing effective and efficient winter maintenance services during and immediately following each winter event. Operational procedures, policies, and extensive planning all play a key role in upholding this commitment.
The decision to initiate snow and ice removal operations is based on factors such as snow accumulation (or expected accumulation), icy conditions which affect travel, and time of snowfall in relation to traffic volumes. The use of weather reports from the National Weather Service, review of local television satellite storm tracking and existing road condition reports are all used to determine the appropriate scope of operations.
The county's roadways are divided into hard surfaced arterial roads, collector streets, residential streets and gravel roads. Arterial roads and those with hills, bridges, shaded driving surfaces or super elevated curves receive first priority. After arterial roads are cleared, crews will begin on collector roadways and residential streets. Due to the logistics of moving motor graders to outlying areas of the county, gravel roads will only be plowed when snow accumulations exceed three inches.
Each winter event will vary in size and complexity, and while crews strive to work as safe and efficient as possible, it's understandable that there will be complaints or requests for additional services. If, after 24 hours, you feel that crews may have missed your area, please submit an online request for service or call Public Works at 913-715-8300. Damage to private property, most commonly mailboxes, should also be reported to our office.
For snow and ice removal within city limits, please contact the specific city.
For snow and ice removal on a highway, please contact KDOT.