February 10, 2021

MDOT SHA Applying Friction Surface Treatment to Capital Beltway in Attempt to Reduce Crashes

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) this week began work on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway (I-495) with an innovative technique that applies a friction surface treatment to the roadway aimed at reducing tractor trailer crashes. In a research study, MDOT observed the program could produce friction and drainage improvements of about 70 percent.

The technique involves propelling steel spheres directly at the pavement surface at a high velocity. The impact of the spheres creates a random surface texture that enhances friction and surface drainage. The treatments make it easier for vehicles to stop and reduces the likelihood of hydroplaning.

“This project will improve the roadway surface as one strategy to reduce crashes on the Capital Beltway,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “This engineering solution will make the roadway safer, especially when coupled with motorists being cautious and obeying posted speed limits.”

The work to apply the safety measure will result in nightly lane closures on the Outer Loop between MD 191 (Bradley Boulevard) and MD 185 (Connecticut Avenue) beginning at 7 p.m. and ending by 5 a.m. the following morning. The work is expected to be completed by mid-February, weather permitting.

Crews will close one lane at 7 p.m., then two lanes at 8 p.m., each day. About 30 lane miles overall will be treated as part of the $460,000 project performed by contractor Skidabrader of San Diego. The contractor is one of a few in the United States that performs this technique.