You’ve heard of spray-on tans. But what about spray-on pavement?

This month the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) completed a one-year test of a spray technology for filling potholes – a project that helped the department realize more than $21,000 in savings.

One year ago, ODOT began piloting the technology in Tuscarawas County, in ODOT’s District 11 — a seven-county area in eastern Ohio. The machine used to fill the potholes sprays the problem areas with pressurized air to clean the pothole, then sprays it with a tar substance. Once the tar has been applied, a gravel aggregate is sprayed on top to fill the hole, said Tom Corey, the highway management administrator for ODOT’s District 11.

“The advantage of this is we get a clean, dry hole, and that’s really important when you’re dealing with any asphalt product,” Corey said.

Paving the Way for New Technology

Newer pavement technology has changed the way roads are paved in some states. Last year, the Virginia Department of Transportation began installing “quiet pavement,” technology:  an “open-graded mix” that differs from traditional hot-mix asphalt since it reduces hydroplaning, tire noise, splash and spray.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cook County, Ill., Highway Department recently began testing pavement technology that brings hot pavement filler directly to potholes.

Corey said the pavement sprayer, developed by Pearl, Miss.-based DuraPatcher, can finish paving a pothole within 30 minutes, less time than the conventional methods of pavement repair, which involve shoveling and pouring hot mix asphalt. In the old way, crews had to wait for trucks to arrive with material from an asphalt plant.

Besides saving time, the new method also reduces the need for multiple repairs to the same pothole, and the spray technology can be used year-round, when previously pothole repair was typically only done between the months of April through October.

Now that the pilot is completed, Corey said the department plans to use the technology in all of District 11’s seven counties.

“Because of the success we’ve seen to date, motorists may begin to see us using this technology elsewhere across eastern Ohio this summer,” ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Lloyd MacAdam said in a statement.

District 11 includes more than 3,300 lane miles of roads and more than 1,000 bridges. With the implementation in its beginning phase, the district will procure three machines total to be used throughout the seven counties – which comes at a price tag of approximately $62,000 per machine, Corey said.

He said during the pilot phase, those operating the spray equipment were trained by the vendor. Now that a full implementation is taking place, the department hopes to train two ODOT road maintenance staff per county in the district to operate the machinery.

But special training will be required for the maintenance crew, said the department’s public information officer Becky Giauque.

 “Because it is very specific type of equipment, so we’re going to make sure that we have a well trained workforce on this equipment,” Giauque said.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.