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City of Kingston cleans up ‘foamy substance’ rumours

A foamy substance was seen on the surface of Bath Road at Gardiners after a rainstorm on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Submitted photo.

During and after a heavy rainfall in the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, drivers travelling the stretch of Bath Road between Collins Bay Road and Centennial Drive reported a “weird foamy substance” on the surface of the roadway.

Make It Home Kingston – #YGK shared a photo of the foamy roadway on social media, so drivers were aware of the occurrence during their commutes. In the comments section of that post, several residents officered up possible explanations for the occurrence, including:

  • the rain hitting a very hot surface (Kingston was in the throes of a Heat Warning at the time), causing air bubbles;
  • the hot weather drawing out oils from asphalt;
  • a seal treatment on the new asphalt;
  • the road melting in this heat like the rest of us;
  • soap being used to clean the roadway;
  • Worst. slip n slide. ever;
  • the marshmallow man may have an issue – call Ghostbusters.

With such a diverse array of possible causes, Kingstonist reached out to the City of Kingston to find out the real reason for the sudsy roadway.

“The foamy substance is a result of microsurfacing work, which was completed along that stretch recently,” the City’s Engineering team responded in an email. “Microsurfacing is a cost-effective method that is used to extend the life of asphalt. When applied, microsurfacing produces a natural by-product during the curing process over a two to four week period. While this by-product typically evaporates, heavy rain and traffic can make it visible creating a white, foamy appearance.”

According to the team, microsurfacing is one of the many techniques the City uses to maintain area roads. “It is approved by the Ministry of Transportation and is applied by City contractors,” the team stated.

In a video, the City stated that microsurfacing can extend the life of a roadway up to eight years, and costs three to five times less than “traditional applications.” Watch the video on the City’s YouTube page.

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