Of all the various pavement maintenance technologies, the one that has arguably seen the greatest innovation in recent years is repair of potholes and repair of utility cuts. While research indicates that the strongest repair is still a saw-cut remove-and-replace patch, developments on both the equipment side and the material side have resulted in cost-effective alternatives that are reliable and that enable even more contractors to offer these repairs to their clients.
Contractors looking to test the pothole repair market can get involved for the low cost of some basic hand tools and a 5-gallon bucket of proprietary cold mix. But contractors looking to get involved in pothole repair, general repair of pavement defects, and repair of utility cuts on a larger scale – working contracts with cities, counties, and those who handle multiple large-scale parking lots – can also add equipment to their fleet.
The key for adding equipment is production. If you're going to invest in equipment you have to keep it busy enough to justify its cost. So contractors with clients who provide work on large areas of pavement can consider machines that are designed specifically to repair potholes and utility cuts. Contractors who don't have as many potholes to fix or steady contracts with utility companies to repair their cuts might consider other types of equipment that is more versatile, such as asphalt maintainers or infrared machines.
John Alcorn, vice president and co-owner of AA Asphalting Inc., Sumner, WA, banks on repairing utility cuts as part of his company's steady work. The contractor operates from four Washington locations, employs 90 people, and runs seven asphalt crews and three concrete crews. Much of the company's work involves utility cut repairs, and Alcorn says 60% of all utility repairs are for the gas company.
To keep its utility repair work on schedule the company relies on two Leeboy 1200 S asphalt maintainer/patchers, which Alcorn says keep production up and costs down. Alcorn says he and Jeff Jewett, president, started their business in 1978 and bought their first of two asphalt maintainers in 1988. They've become an integral part of the AA Asphalting fleet ever since.
The maintainer/patchers are unique machines that incorporate a number of pavement repair or maintenance features into a single piece of equipment. The towable 1200 S includes a 24-inch rotary grinder, a paving screed that telescopes from 38 inches to 62 inches, a shoulder-building attachment that extends from 28 inches to 42 inches, and a 100-gallon tack tank.
Alcorn says the grinder can be raised and lowered, which enables the crews to remove material from the cuts when necessary as well as to grind up existing fill and place it right back in the repair. He says the screed can also be modified to pave a strip as narrow as 2 inches to 24 inches wide.
"That's a great advantage when repairing utility cuts, especially when we are repairing trenches," Alcorn says.
The unit operates much like a paver in that dump trucks deposit hot mix into the maintainer's 2 ½-ton hopper as it moves along the job. The mix flows to the screed or shoulder extension, enabling the operator to fill utility cuts. The same process also is effective for shoulder reconstruction and for road widening.
"If there's a ditch and it needs two feet of gravel on the edge of the road for several miles, this is the machine to use for that," Alcorn says. "So if you're doing anything alongside the fog line of the road, such as putting a rock mix to the right of the tires, you can drive on the hard surface and fill the shoulder or other area off the hard surface. You simply line up your trucking, you set the maintainer up with its wheels on the hard pavement surface, and you move on down the road."
If a repair is on the opposite side of the road they simply turn the machine around and work the opposite direction.