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ODOT Takes Different Path on Road Repair

Wed November 11, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson

The DuraPatchers in the ODOT fleet use spray injection which allows compressed air to do the repair job.
The DuraPatchers in the ODOT fleet use spray injection which allows compressed air to do the repair job.

Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has tried something new when it comes to road repair.

“Hot mix and cold patching sometimes aren’t enough to patch those pesky, re-occurring potholes. That is why ODOT District 2 has invested in the ’hottest’ weapon to fight the ongoing battle of ODOT vs. road — the DuraPatcher,” said Theresa Pollick, ODOT District 2 public information officer.

Nat Alford of Duraco Inc., of Jackson, Miss., credits DuraPatcher distributor Mark Leaders of Leader Machinery Co. LLC in Middletown, Ohio, for sales to ODOT districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 — which owns two. All of those purchased by ODOT are the trailer mounted machines. The city of Hilliard, Ohio, also owns a DuraPatcher.

According to Alford, these are very simple machines. Duraco Inc., part of Cimline Pavement Maintenance Group, “manufactures and sells DuraPatcher trailer mounted and truck mounted units. The trailer mounted units operate with two people, one in the truck one on ground. There also is a two-person truck mounted unit. The truck mounted DuraMaxx is a one-person unit; the operator does everything from the cab of truck—it’s fully automated.”

“The trailer-mounted is the biggest seller,” said Alford. “Pricing is the low to mid-$60K range.” Duraco, Inc. “also sells the DuraMaxx model with pricing in the high $100K range that includes the truck.”

“We’ve been building the DuraPatcher for over 20 years in Pearl, Miss., and sell in North America and overseas. We’re the number one seller in the world of this type of machine,” said Alford

Over the years they’ve improved on some small things like a larger drain port for the tank, a larger fill lid, and heat exchange efficiency, but today’s design is really close to where it’s been all along, according to Leaders.

The DuraPatchers in the ODOT fleet use “spray injection which allows compressed air to do the job of three men,” according to the Duraco website. “Instead of men with shovels, tampers and hot mix, the DuraPatcher system cleans the area, applies a tack coat, sprays the emulsion/aggregate mix into the pothole with sufficient force to compact the material as it is applied and then follows with dry aggregate to prevent lifting.”

“The reason it works well is that the technology is spray injection of emulsion and aggregate and the mixing of the two together at the nozzle. The user only produces what is needed. It’s not like going to an asphalt plant and getting two tons of hot or cold mix if its only going to take a small amount,” said Leaders.

“The patches work well because you’re putting down the emulsion as a tack coating, then you mix the two together to make the repair. It works better than a solid because it bonds to the existing surface. It also works well on concrete,” said Leaders.

The DuraPatcher gets to the spauling at the concrete joints which is a benefit for cities and counties that have concrete roads. The other benefit, according to Leaders, is “this is unique to spray injection. You get what is called skin repair—preventative maintenance on alligator cracks.”

Both Leaders and Alford agree that the standard cold patch is temporary, and certainly not a permanent fix. They also point out that hot patches can only be used in the summertime. Asphalt plants make hot mix, which is a specialty product. Those plants are closed in the winter.

“Although there is still a learning curve and it has yet to be tested through the winter, so far, the DuraPatcher is getting rave reviews,” said Pollick.

“Everyone’s going to want one,” according to Lee Anderson, ODOT’s Williams County Transportation Administrator. “It’s outstanding, one of the best investments the district has made.”

“As funding and budgets allow, we would like to purchase more,” said Layth Istefan, ODOT district 2 highway management administrator. “Ideally we would like three, one for each area of the district.”

“It sprays hot liquid at the same time it sprays stone, that’s the difference. It conforms to the shape of the hole with no air voids. That creates a solid, bonding piece,” added Istefan. “This piece of equipment uses a new method of pothole patching, which better accommodates cold pavement repairs.”

The DuraPatcher “can be used year-round. The only limiting factor is having the materials available,” said Alford.

With the elimination of air voids, the DuraPatcher extends the lifespan of the repair, saving time and money. Plus, the cost of the hot mix and cold patching operations was much higher, due to material and labor, according to Istefan. “We are now reducing porthole repair from a six to a two-man operation.”

Alford said the purchasers of DuraPatchers are typically state DOTs, city street departments, county road departments, and “we have a few contractors scattered across the U.S. who use it on parking lots, prior to sealing. Everyone is looking for ways to cut their budgets. The machine will pay for itself in material savings alone. That’s been a proven fact over the years. If maintained properly, the DuraPatcher will last for years. Some are at least 15 years old and still in use.

“In early 90s, we did work with Fed Highway Administration Strategic Highway Research Program, or SHRP. That’s where they ran a comparison on different methods of patching potholes, and the results of those done with the DuraPatcher method stayed in place longer, and were more cost-effective and efficient than using cold mix to make repairs.”

According to the Duraco website: “Congress authorized the SHRP program in 1987. It was a five-year applied research initiative to develop and evaluate techniques and technologies to combat the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s highways and to improve their performance, durability, safety, and efficiency.” It was “directed by a committee of top-level managers from state highway agencies, industry, and academia. SHRP operated as a unit of the National Research Council. The states paid for the program by contributing one-quarter of 1 percent of their federal-aid highway funds.”

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