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Monday, Oct 3, 2022
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Street Repair Gets Tech Treatment

California boasts some of the worst roads in the nation. And with a chronic lack of funding for repairs, state agencies are scrambling to figure out how to keep the wheels rolling. The city of Lancaster wants to pave its own destiny with a new type of slurry – the black, watery tar used to fill cracks in streets. It has built a $500,000 factory that produces a special asphalt additive capable of extending the life of roads. The city has partnered with Ecostar Science & Technology Inc. of Wrightwood to produce TractionSeal, a patented slurry that the city believes just doesn’t fill cracks, but preserves pavement longer than other products on the market. TractionSeal will work on Lancaster’s own roads – and for any other city, county or state government that wants to buy it. A gallon of the slurry costs between $2.50 and $3 – less than many competing products – and covers roughly 3 square yards of street. “This product is significantly superior, last significantly longer, stops potholing, stays flat longer, and has superior skid resistance – and this is all proven by tests,” City Manager Mark Bozigian said. The city secured a $250,000 grant from the Antelope Valley Air Quality District to offset the costs of building the slurry factory. So far, city crews have applied TractionSeal on 34.5 miles of Lancaster roads, and the city hopes its new product will cover another 1,700 miles of road across the country during the next 10 years. What makes TractionSeal different is the application. After the slurry is applied, an electromagnetic device on wheels excites and heats the dilapidated pavement, causing it to solidify with the new slurry material. Russell Snyder, executive director at the California Asphalt Pavement Association, said slurry is a common expense for cities and studies have shown it is a good investment. “One person called it sunscreen for your pavement, because it can reduce oxidation and help extend the life of the pavement,” Snyder said. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 68 percent of California’s roads need repair. Historically gas taxes paid for road maintenance, but with more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, there is a funding shortfall. “There is less gas being consumed, so there are less gas taxes,” Snyder said. Lancaster has hired a sales representative and is setting up demos as it ramps up marketing for its slurry, which is marketed as a money-saver. – Mateo Melero

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