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Franklin to test new process for rebuilding roads

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Franklin wants to try out a new way of fixing roads that costs about half as much and takes about a third the time.

Road reconstruction, like what is being done on North Main Street in Franklin, can cost more than $800,000 per mile and take several months to complete.

But Franklin is considering a new process that could cut costs and construction time significantly. It could be used for the first time on Hurricane Road north of Eastview Drive, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

The road could remain open during construction, and the current road materials would be recycled. The process can’t be used on every type of road; but if Franklin could use the process in some areas, the city could have more money available for other repairs, officials said.


New process: Franklin is considering using a new process to rebuild roads. A machine grinds up the current road surface and base, and then construction crews can pave over a base made up of the pulverized material.

Benefits: Compared to standard reconstruction, like what is being done on North Main Street, the new process costs 50 to 60 percent less, can be completed in one-third of the time, allows the road to remain open during construction and recycles current materials.

Drawback: The process can’t be used on every type of road. Roads that contain brick or concrete as a surface or in the base cannot be rebuilt with the new method because of the equipment used.

Test run: Franklin officials are considering testing the process on part of Hurricane Road, which is scheduled to be reconstructed this summer.

With the new method, a piece of machinery is used to grind the entire road, from surface to base about 18 inches deep, into a material that is all the same size and consistency, Underhill said. Construction crews then can pave over a new base made of the ground-up materials.

The old road material is reused during the process, unlike standard reconstruction where the road is broken down, scooped up, trucked away and then rebuilt with new stone or other base materials.

The process requires less labor and materials, which means it costs less, Underhill said.

“We could get essentially brand new roads, top to bottom, for 50 to 60 cents on the dollar,” he said.

Other street departments already have saved money using the process, including Steuben County in northeast Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

“For the speed and for the price and for the longevity, it’s a pretty good deal. We figure we’ve saved $3.8 million on roads that would have been reconstructed,” said Doug Stephens, senior professional engineer in Toledo, Ohio.

Toledo started using the method in 2010, and the roads that were rebuilt haven’t worn down any more quickly than other roads.

Roads rebuilt with the process in Steuben County also haven’t had cracks, holes or unusual wear, highway department superintendent Ken Penick said. Steuben County rebuilt four miles of road in 2012 and is using the process to rebuild two miles this year.

The only drawback to the process is that it can’t be used everywhere, Stephens said.

The method can’t be used on roads that contain brick, because the brick shatters and damages the grinding equipment, he said. The grinding machines also can’t break down concrete unless it is first removed and smashed into smaller pieces, he said.

Franklin plans to hire an engineering firm to drill into Hurricane Road to check the road materials to see if the new construction method can be used there. The city could spend up to $9,900 for the testing, Underhill said.

The city won’t use the new method for the entire Hurricane Road project, which is scheduled to be done this summer. He said the city would create a test site on the southern end near Eastview Drive.

The estimated cost to repair Hurricane Road is around $500,000, and using the new method on part of the road could save $100,000, Underhill said.

“We can afford to at least do the research and find a place to try it,” he said.

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