Innovative pavement crack-sealing method unveiled by D3

There are pavement-maintenance tasks that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) performs each year to maintain the 12,000 miles of the state highway system and meet smoothness and driveability standards.

ITD always explores ways to perform these measures in a more cost-effective method, saving the department and taxpayers money. If the innovation also requires fewer employees and uses less equipment, that's even better.

Crack sealing on the highways throughout the state is one of those tasks.

The department began testing the crack-sealing operation in the Mountain Home area on a 50-mile stretch of Airbase Road (Idaho 67) between July 2013 and April 2014. ITD's Caldwell maintenance shop, particularly Russ Petersen, helped the effort by modifying the tip on the end of the blower used for cleaning the cracks out before sealing.

"It took about three months of use to perfect the design that worked on the majority of applications, and about two weeks of trials to perfect the tip connector," explained Carl Vaughn, Mountain Home maintenance foreman.

Vaughn said the cost savings for each project is specific based on the complexity of the work and length of the affected area, but there are a few across-the-board savings: "it will save one truck, one compressor and one person for the cleaning operations, and if you use the disk tip on the blower, it can save you one additional person," he said.

Crack sealing often takes five or six people, but the new process allows it to be done with three people, which enables ITD maintenance to utilize two crews rather than one, covering twice as much territory in the same time.

The best part — it cost approximately $850 to complete the study, which was done entirely by ITD maintenance forces, and potentially could save tens of thousands of maintenance dollars and countless hours of manpower.

"We were able to save cost on equipment, fuel, employees and materials," explained Vaughn.

"We need frugal managers and employees who can find ways through innovations to save money.  This enables upper-level management to refrain from resorting to painful cutbacks, furloughs, layoffs or employee terminations," he added..

(Top) Mountain Home maintenance worker Danial Garland uses a backpack-mounted blower to clean out the cracks prior to sealing. (Above) Carl Vaughn uses the new sealer.

Published 6-6-14