South Jordan prevents potholes with innovative system

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SOUTH JORDAN — Thanks to our recent cold snap and heavy snow some Utah roads are starting to crumble. Roads in Holladay are already breaking apart in some areas. The trouble is, most road crews can't get a permanent patch on it until everything heats up and dries out.

Officials in South Jordan said some recent innovations have cut down on the problem by as much as 75 percent. And they hope their ideas can help other cities save money and keep our drive nice and smooth.

By the time you see potholes, it's often too late. Public works director for Holladay City, Toshiharu Kano, said all that freezing moisture has already caused some roads to burst at the seams.

If his crews got a break in the weather, he said they "can go ahead and fill those up."

But patches that get put down in the winter are only a temporary solution. They will often fall apart again. But not far away, in South Jordan, Streets Division Manager Jed Bell has a truck, the only one like it in the state of Utah, that can lay down permanent fixes even in the cold.

"The compaction of the material can all be done at temperatures that are still hot, which makes it a permanent repair, just as good as if it were being done in the summer," Bell said.

The asphalt is kept hot inside a chamber at around 200 degrees. Bell said that's just the beginning of what makes them different.

"It carries 1,600 pounds of brine," he said.

Trucks like Bell's, as well as the city's smaller ones, spray a brine solution on city streets a day or two before a storm hits. Ultimately, he says it leads to less plowing, salting and less damage to the roads.

Bell said the city currently gets maybe five or so complaints on potholes a month. Before they put this new system in place, it was around 40.


"It's a third of the cost, and it's a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach when a storm event occurs," Bell said.

It's a method used by UDOT on highways, but only a handful of cities. Bell is hopeful other cities will be able to learn from what they've done.

"I think it's something that every city should explore," Bell said.

Weber and Salt Lake Counties have said that right now the pothole issue isn't big, but it is expected to get worse as the weather heats up this spring.


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