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The Why of Asphalt Road Maintenance

Asphalt surfaces make up the majority of the VBCRC's road network. Maintenance of these roads provides a better roadway for travel, but with a higher cost compared to gravel roads. The VBCRC utilizes in-house preventative maintenance applications (such as sealcoat and fog seal) for the cost-effective maintenance of  Van Buren County roads compared to repaving or reconstruction. 

Surface Maintenance Funding

Township Local Road projects are typically planned and paid for with Township dollars and/or county-wide millage funds. ​Road Commission Primary Road projects are typically planned and paid for with Road Commission, Township, and/or county-wide millage funds.


Pothole Patching

VBCRC routinely patches potholes throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. The Road Commission utilizes various materials as outlined below:

  • Cold Patch: the most expensive option with the smallest retention rate at 30%. This is only used in emergency situations when asphalt plants are closed for the winter. 

  • Hotmix Patch: Hotmix is the most commonly used material in patching potholes. With a 75% retention rate, it is an effective method and material for times of year the asphalt plants are open and weather conditions permit.

  • Total Patcher: New to VBCRC in 2022, Total Patchers are an all-in-one piece of equipment that can be used year-round. Total Patchers clear the pothole of loose debris then forcefully spray a tact coat and aggregate to compact them into the pothole. With a retention rate in the 90th percentile, the Total Patcher is currently the best tool in use for patching by VBCRC.


Sealcoat is a thin layer of emulsion or asphalt covered with a layer of crushed slag, rock, or stone to seal the surface of an existing paved roadway. When used as a preventative maintenance treatment, sealcoat life cycle cost analysis has proven to add 35-40% to the life expectancy of the road. 

Fog Seal

Fog seal is a layer of asphalt applied over a sealcoat for additional protection from weather. The black coating of the fog seal provides additional safety benefits of providing better heat retention from sunlight to melt ice and snow in the winter and spring, as well as giving more contrast to paint lines for better visibility. 

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