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Surface dressing

Surface dressing is a preventative treatment, to prolong the life of the roads. It is an essential part of Dorset Council's road maintenance strategy, alongside patching and resurfacing.

What is surface dressing?
What is surface dressing?

Surface dressing:

  • helps prevent potholes forming by providing a waterproof seal
  • improves skid resistance, with a thin layer of new stone chippings spread on the finished surface
  • is very cost effective; roads can be kept in good condition for longer, so that resources can be directed to fully resurface the roads that need it most. Full road resurfacing costs 12 times more per mile

A newly dressed road may feel 'bumpy' as the grip will have been restored. The surface will also be noisier initially while the chippings 'bed down'.

About the treatment

Surface dressing can only be carried out when the road is dry. When it rains, the work has to stop - changing dates across the whole programme of work.

It is a quick process - rural sites take less than a day to complete and urban roads will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the length of the road.

Bitumen binder (glue) is sprayed onto the road, stone chippings are spread onto this and then compacted down with a roller. A sweeper then travels along the road the following day to clear any immediate loose chippings.

Surface dressing in action
Surface dressing in action

Closing the road

We have a team of 20 people, two purpose built chipping spreaders, one spray tanker, six lorries feeding chippings and two suction road sweepers. This is a lot of equipment to fit into the road, even without traffic!

Doing the work in the daytime

We cannot work overnight as surface dressing relies on the evaporation of water from the bitumen binder (glue) for it to set, and it needs traffic to travel on the new surface for it to 'bed down' and lock onto the old surface.

We also cannot work in wet weather - any amount of rain or surface water dilutes the bitumen and so doesn't hold the chippings in place - which is why our surface dressing programme runs from April through to September. In rural areas we will be working 8am to 4pm and in urban areas we will be working 9am to 4pm.

Loose chippings

There may be loose chippings still on the road. It takes cars driving on the surface to help the stones bed into the bitumen.

This is why there will be 20mph limit after the work. Travelling at a reduced speed through the newly dressed area will prevent skidding on the loose chippings, it helps 'bed down' the material and it will save your paint work! We sweep the road the day after the work to get rid of excess stones.

How you can help it go smoothly

After surface dressing your road, we hope not to bother you again for another 10 years!

But there are a few things you can to do help us, and yourself:

  • please move your car off the road before 9am
  • please keep children and pets away – for safety and cleanliness
  • please keep to the temporary speed limits and avoid heavy braking to allow the surface to stabilise and ‘bed down’
  • check your shoes before entering your car or home
  • remove stains promptly with a cleaner for removing bitumen/oil which can be purchased from any motoring store

Before work starts

  • yellow advance warning signs will be put up on affected roads two days before the work is due to start – each week we will publish on our newsroom the roads being dressed the following week
  • please ensure you either park your car off the road or, if you need it during the day, move it to a nearby road (but check this road isn’t also being treated)
  • wet weather causes delay and will change our programme

On the day we will

  • sweep the road to remove any loose material
  • cover all drains and manholes covers
  • dress the road surface
  • reopen the road


  • loose chippings will be swept up the day after the work
  • uncover taped up drains and manhole covers
  • white or yellow lines and disabled bays will be replaced within 14 days

Wareham town sites

  • Frome Road
  • Hardy Road
  • Barnes Road
  • Shirley Road
  • Stowell Crescent
  • Encombe Road
  • Causeway Close
  • North Causeway
  • Sandford Lane
  • Johns Road
  • Carey Close
  • Walls View Road
  • West Mill Crescent
  • Wessex Oval link road
  • St Mary’s Close
  • Wessex Oval
  • Humber Chase
  • Egdon Road
  • Mistover Road
  • Carey Road
  • Courtney Close
  • Admirals Way
  • Drax Avenue
  • Northport Drive
  • Trent Drive
  • Bourne Drive
  • Nordon Drive
  • Middlebere Drive
  • Fairway Drive
  • Seven Barrows Road
  • Wellstead Road
  • Stockley Road
  • Burns Road
  • Tarrant Drive
  • Great Ovens Drive
  • Stour Drive
  • Sherford Drive
  • Avon Drive
  • Tantinoby Lane
  • Daniel Drive
  • Willow Way
  • Northmoor Way (including link onto A351 & northbound link with Bere Road)
    This will be done with convoy working to keep access open

Rural roads

Many of the rural roads listed below have had patching work carried out in the last few months in preparation for this surface dressing treatment. 

You can find roadworks in your area on our roadworks map.

Blandford area

  • Arlecks Lane - Church Road to Down Road, Pimperne
  • Down Road - Anvil Road to Arlecks Lane, Pimperne
  • Newfield Road - from C47 to adoption end, Pimperne
  • The Lane - from outside Brook Farm to A31 opposite Botany Bay Inn, Winterborne Zelston
  • Common Drove - from D32506 to county boundary, Farnham
  • D32506 - from eastern Farnham Farm House to Tollard Farnham
  • D32506 - link section to D32501 Jct, Farnham
  • D32502 - High Street to Dunspit Lane, Farnham
  • D32501 - C2 Millers Lane to Farnham Museum Cross, Farnham
  • D32502 - from Chettle Village to A342, Chettle
  • Okeford Road - from Little Hanford to A350, Hanford
  • The Corner - from The Cross to Courtney Close, Shroton
  • Castle Lane - A357, New Cross Gate to Castle Avenue, Okeford Fitzpaine
  • Garlands Lane - from Church Walk to C100, Okeford Fitzpaine
  • C49 - C139, No Man's Land to C98 Cuckoo Lane, Bulbarrow Hill
  • Bushes Road - from Jct A350, Stourpaine to Jct C13
  • Langton Road - A354 Blandford Bypass to 150m past end of wall, Langton Long
  • West End - A350 to North Farm, Spetisbury

Bridport area

  • Timber Hill, Lyme Regis
  • C18 - from B3164, Birdsmoorgate to entrance to Lower House Farm, Bettiscombe
  • C18 - entrance to Lower House Farm to Mutton Street at Marshwood Cross
  • Beaminster Tunnel to A356 Road - Jct C67, Beaminster Down, to Jct A356, Toller Down

Dorchester area

  • C37 - Curry Hole Lane, Halstock to entrance at Furlongs, Corscombe
  • Back Lane, Evershot
  • Fore Street - Back Lane to Summer Lane, Evershot
  • The Common - Summer Lane to Park Lane (access to Melbury Park), Evershot
  • East Hill - Park Lane to Blind Lane (footpath), Evershot
  • Frome St Quintin Road -  A37, Horchester, to Charity Bottom, Chalmington
  • Frome Lane - link section at Cruxton Lane Jct, Frome Vauchurch
  • Back Lane - C28 to end of road, Maiden Newton
  • Back Lane/Cruxton - C28 to end of road, Maiden Newton
  • C19 - A37, Folly Hill to Marr's Cross, Sydling St Nicholas
  • Up Sydling Road - C19 to end of road, Up Sydling
  • Court Farm Road - Hilling Lane to end of road, Buckland Newton
  • Castle Lane - B3143, Buckland Newton, to C20, Brockhampton Green
  • Druce Lane - C34 to  cul-de-sac end (at bypass), Puddletown
  • Little England to A35-Lane,
  • Pleck Lane - from Ansty Hollow to Rawlsbury Farm, Higher Ansty
  • Bramblecombe Road - C34, Cross Lanes, to Newton Farm Access, near Bramblecombe
  • Bramblecombe Road - Newton Farm Access south to C110, near Bramblecombe

Gillingham area

  • Kendall Lane - from C142 to B3092, Milton-On-Stour
  • School Lane - from B3095 to adoption end, Milton-On-Stour
  • Angel Lane - Scotchy Lane to Stour Lane, Stour Provost
  • D30902 - from The Church to Trill Bridge, Fife Magdalen
  • D30902 - Trill Bridge to B3092, Fife Magdalen
  • Jct C107 to Jct C021, Westbrook

Shaftesbury area

  • D31305 - from Paynthouse Farm to B3091, Guy's Marsh
  • D31305 - from Green Lane to Paynthouse Farm, Guy's Marsh
  • The Butts - Church Hill to Breach Lane, Shaftesbury
  • Green Lane - Stour Row to Guy's Marsh turning, Shaftesbury
  • Green Lane - from Guy's Marsh turning to B3091, Hartgrove
  • Foots Hill - from B3081 to A350, Cann
  • Chapel Hill, Compton Abbas
  • D31407 - from B3091 to High Street, West Orchard
  • High Street - from D31408 to D31405 at Orchard Water Bridge, West Orchard
  • High Street - from B3091 to D31407 at Vale Farm, West Orchard
  • Village Road - from D31405 at Orchard Water Bridge to C138, West Orchard
  • Stocky Lane - B3091 to Village Road at Bowling Green Farm, East Orchard
  • Penn Hill - C52 crossroads, Bedchester to parish Boundary at Pen Copse
  • B3091 East Orchard School to Winchells Farm
  • D31301 - from Lymburghs Farm entrance to Higher Farm, Margaret Marsh

Sherborne area

  • Batcombe Road - from C45, Leigh to Calfhay Lane, Crocker's Knap X-Roads
  • Brister End and part section High Street, Yetminster
  • Bailey Ridge Lane - from C69, Holm Bushes to C45, Stake Ford Cross
  • White House Lane - Seven Ash Common Lane to end of road near Holnest
  • Seven Ash Common Road - C69, The Holm Bushes, to A352, Holnest
  • Compton Road - parish boundary to C141, Over Compton
  • D30104 - Boys Hill at Blackmore Bridge to C73, Glanvilles Wooton
  • Stock Hill Lane - south of Sandhills to B3146, Glanvilles Wootton
  • Newlands Lane, Glanvilles Wootton


  • Lanchard Lane - C99 Shillingstone Lane to end, Shillingstone
  • Everetts Lane - Gun Lane to adoption end, Shillingstone
  • Gunn Lane - from A357 to Wessex Avenue, Shillingstone
  • Pepper Hill - from Wessex Ave to Coombe Road, Shillingstone
  • Brodham Way - Puxey Lane to Gunn Lane/Pepper Hill, Shillingstone
  • White Pit - Coombe Road to A357, Shillingstone
  • Church Road - A357 around crescent back to A347, Shillingstone

Sturminster Newton area

  • Barnes Close - Station Road to end, Sturminster Newton
  • Fellowsmead - Fillesymead to C15, Marnhull
  • Common Lane - loop from C15, Marnhull
  • Great Down Lane - Love Lane to B3092,  Marnhull
  • Fillesymead - C15 to Fellowsmead, Marnhull
  • C14 - Moorhayes to Ram's Hill at D30916 / D31301 crossroads, Todber
  • D31722 - C14 Lower Road to Ham Lane, Hammoon
  • Ham Lane - Church Lane to end of housing, Hammoon
  • D31722 - from housing at Hammoon to A347 New Cross Gate
  • Common Lane - New Road to end, Broad Oak
  • Angers Lane - New Road to Banbury Cross, Broad Oak
  • Stockfield Drove - Back Lane to C100, Hazelbury Bryan
  • Zoar Lane - from 376250-109264 To C98, Fifehead Neville
  • Zoar Lane - from Stockfield Drove to 376250-109264, Fifehead Neville

Wareham area

  • Bloxworth X-Jct with A35
  • Jct Newport Lane & C60 Church Road
  • Jct Bloxworth Road & Church Road
  • C60 - Newport Lane to C60 / D50404 Bloxworth Jct, East Bloxworth
  • Jct Church Road & Newport Lane Road end
  • C60 - from C60 / D50404 Bloxworth Jct, East Bloxworth, to Jct A35, near Morden Mill
  • Jct Cockett Hill / D1701 to B3075

Other sites

  • Pond Head - from entrance Glen Farm to D40611, Holt
  • Webbs Close - Horton Road to Webbs Way, St Leonards & St Ives

Premium surface dressing

We are currently waiting for confirmation of dates from our contractor for the following sites:

  • A357 – Sturminster Newton to west of Puxley Lane junction
  • B3145 – Marston Road, Sherborne
  • A356 – Winyards Gap, South Perrott
  • A3066 – Gore Cross Roundabout to north of Melplash
  • B3157 – Burton Bradstock to Swyre
  • A356 – junction with A37 to west of Frampton
  • A37 – Long Ash Lane from 30mph signs to north of Grimstone
  • A37 – Stratton to Sodern Lane
  • A37 – from south of Grimstone to Stratton
  • A352 – Max Gate to Broadmayne, Dorchester
  • A352 – Owermoigne to Wool
  • A353 – Warmwell Roundabout to Poxwell
  • A354 – Basan Hill to Milborne St Andrew
  • A354 – Milborne St Andrew to Winterborne Whitchurch
  • A354 – Winterborne Kingston to Thornicombe
  • C2 – Three Legged Cross to Ashley Heath

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