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* News Release *
 
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
For Immediate Release

COUNTY ENGINEER TO TEST ROAD SURFACE TREATMENTS

Motorists who use Eaton Road in St. Clair Township may be noticing some rather uncommon road signs like "fiber mat," "SAMI,' and "glaspave." Granted, these aren't your typical speed limit and stop ahead signs but regular readers of the BCEO web site may already be familiar with some of these terms which refer to various types of roadway surface treatments. The signs, placed every 400 feet, indicate six different pavement test sections currently being applied to Eaton Road.

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens plans to test some of the resurfacing methods which have actually been used for many years, some as old as the paving business itself. But in recent years new technologies have worked their way into the standard tar and gravel and asphalt treatments. With the rising costs of roadway paving Wilkens wants to formally evaluate which methods work best for the money.

"We want to determine what gives us the most bang for our buck," he said. "Standard asphalt resurfacing has become so expensive in recent years that we've gone back to chip seal in some cases. While not always as attractive, it averages about $100,000 less per mile to use chip seal versus standard asphalt." The cost to chip seal is roughly $40,000 per mile as opposed to blacktopping which averages $140,000 per mile.

"The old tar and stone method, or chip seal, has been vastly improved with various new technologies and we want to compare these on an even playing surface," Wilkens explained. "While we've employed these new chip seal methods on different roads, we'd like to test each of them along the same stretch of road so we're comparing apples to apples."

BCEO Construction Deputy Randy Johnson concurs: "This way each treatment will be applied at the same time on the same road with the same traffic counts and snow blade passes. Snow plows and road salt in particular take a toll on pavement. By putting all of these treatments in the same section they'll be subjected to the same wear and tear, allowing us to make a clearer assessment."

The Treatments

The Engineer's Office is in the process of applying six surface pavement test sections to Eaton Road between Brooks Road and Taylor School Road:

  • Chip Seal - Traditional tar and gravel mix. The tar is referred to as liquid AC, a composite mixture of hot liquid asphalt and mineral aggregate. A coat of liquid AC is applied to the roadway surface as a binder and then small crushed stone chips are spread adhering to the hot liquid AC. This is the least expensive method of resurfacing roads.
  • Double Chip Seal - Two layers of chip seal. The first layer usually contains larger stone while the second utilizes smaller.
  • Micro Surface - Similar to a process known as slurry seal. Emulsion is always polymer modified and special additives are used.
  • SAMI Seal - Stress Absorbing Membrane Interlayer. Similar to chip seal but the liquid AC contains different polymers that affect the bonding to stone.
  • Fiber Mat - Similar to chip seal but the liquid AC contains fiberglass strands mixed in with the other mineral aggregate.
  • Blacktop - Standard asphalt. This is traditionally considered the smoothest and nicest treatment but is also the most expensive. The blacktop test section on Eaton Road will contain two different under treatments: routine crack seal and Glaspave, a fiberglass waterproofing paving mat that is rolled out like a rug before the asphalt is applied.

Each section will be inspected and documented quarterly. The Engineer's Office hopes to evaluate the condition and life expectancy of each surface treatment and determine which are the most cost-effective. "Obviously our goal is to save taxpayers money while providing a smooth, safe commute," Wilkens said. "We'll assess and compare over the next one to five years and draw our conclusions. In the meantime, we'll continue to explore new technologies that we and the townships can use in an effort to stretch an increasingly limited revenue base."

Wilkens noted that higher fuel prices have translated into increased paving costs since asphalt products, even in their simplest forms, are petroleum-based. The BCEO typically does about a million dollars worth of road resurfacing annually, but that amount doesn't buy as many miles as it once did. That has prompted the BCEO's engineering team to look at some of these advanced products and perform its own engineering analyses such as the testing on Eaton Road.

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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