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To the Editor: Rubberized roads answer to our pothole problem

April 22, 2014
pen-and-paper

Each and every year, we have to go along with how our roads are set up with a failed repair system. Every year, the taxpayer foots the bill, with car repair bills resulting from damage created by an unacceptable number of potholes. We need a new system to make it possible to repair our roads so we do not have to have them repaired every year.

The way they repair our potholes is by just putting new asphalt in a hole that has who knows what still in it. So, the hole will fail not long after it has been repaired.

A hot patch should be just that, and it’s never done right. I would guess the right way would be to clean the hole, heat the hole with a torch, put oil in the hole, put asphalt in the hole to keep the patch warm, and then use something to flatten out the patch. A roller would be better to press asphalt into the hole, and I believe it would last longer because it would be pressed in place.

Also, asphalt does not work well to patch a concrete road. There is no way to make these two different products fully compatible. Concrete and asphalt have nothing in common, and asphalt being placed in a concrete hole is just a waste of time and money.

One answer to our pothole dilemma is to invest in rubberized asphalt; yes, rubberized asphalt. It will cost more, but every road that has been surfaced with this mix will last for 20-plus years with no repair work. There would be better control and environmental properties, and we, the people, would be saving money because every time you put a rubberized asphalt road down, that will be one less road that has to be fixed next year. There are many reasons to use this product, including decreased road noise, no cracks in the road, more and better traction, and no more potholes.

Kieth Nielsen
Rockford

From the April 23-29, 2014 issue

3 Comments

  1. Darrell E Blobaum

    April 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    A friend commented that this will not happen, because Unions object, fearing a loss of jobs???

  2. Paul Gorski

    May 1, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I do not believe the unions would object based on a the fear of losing jobs, especially if they were aware of initial increase in work it would bring them.

    Rubberized asphalt is mostly used in warm climates; colder climates, and areas that use salt on their roads have not deployed rubberized asphalt as often. When they do, they test different formulations, meaning they tear up whole stretches of road and test different mixtures of rubberized asphalt. That would create a considerable amount of new road work here.

    While there may not be cracks in rubberized asphalt roads, there are “pores.” There are still problems with rubberized asphalt in areas where they use salt as a de-icer. New Jersey officials claim the road salt falls into the pores of roads with rubberized asphalt, and doesn’t sit on the surface of the road long enough to melt the ice. They are still working on that problem.

    In addition, we already wait twenty years (if not thirty or forty) to redo roads around here. If we resurfaced a new rubberized asphalt road again in twenty years, we’d right on schedule with what we do now.

    I see a larger hurdle being the additional cost rubberized asphalt brings to a road project. Yes, I know there’s ROI based on less maintenance, but a lot of politicians are not that forward thinking. They simply look at the immediate costs. I’d worry less about the labor unions laying the road than the politicians approving the road building budgets.

    • Darrell E Blobaum

      May 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Thanks, Paul. It’s regretable that used tires can’t be used for roads–or something useful. Millions of tires are piling up. And the EPA and other government agencies do little,other than threaten to fine the owners of the mess, since they are a threat to health, safety, and an eyesore. Seems we should have the technology and WILL to recycle them in some way.

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