Pavement Corporation, Prince George’s County to Fix Potholes Year-Round with New, High-Tech, Environmentally Friendly Process
University of Maryland creates quality assurance specifications for infrared asphalt repair
While spring is the usual time for fixing potholes, it will now be done year-round in Prince George’s County thanks to a two-year pilot program with Fort Washington-based Pavement Corporation. The program introduces a new, high-technology asphalt repair process that is less expensive, more effective, more environmentally friendly and can be done even in winter.
“Potholes are a quality of life issue, especially for people in Prince George’s County right now,” said Derrick Davis, vice chair of the County Council. “We are excited and proud of this program between Prince George’s County and Pavement Corporation, as it employs the latest technologies to save our taxpayers millions of dollars in car repairs through faster, longer-lasting pothole patches performed year-round.”
The new process, called infrared asphalt repair, was validated for quality assurance through a year-long study at the University of Maryland by Charles Schwartz, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Both the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program and Pavement Corporation provided funding for the study.
Infrared repair involves heating existing asphalt with an infrared machine until it reaches a soft, workable state. A rejuvenating compound is added to keep the asphalt pliant, after which a small amount of new or recycled asphalt is leveled on top. Because of its heated state, the patch fuses seamlessly with the adjacent asphalt, making for a smoother, longer-lasting patch.
Infrared technology lowers repair costs by nearly 50 percent, according to Pavement Corporation Founder and President Jay Perry.
“Prince George’s County is now on the cutting edge of technology for fixing its roads thanks to this pilot program,” said Perry. “In addition, as a Prince George’s County-based company, we expect to add five to 10 jobs in the short-term and 20 to 30 more if our projections for expansion come to fruition.”
Pavement Corporation, founded in 1995, performs a broad range of paving, maintenance and repair services for customers such as Walmart, Target, CVS, Lowe’s, Sears, Bob Evans, and BJ’s Wholesale Club in Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia.
Infrared road repair has been utilized by a handful of U.S. states, including Florida, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee and Arizona, according to Perry.
Since the process is relatively new, few guidelines were in place to ensure the quality of patches. That’s where the University of Maryland stepped in.
Pavement Corporation worked with Schwartz and graduate student Chris Leininger to produce construction specifications and a quality assurance process to provide the company with guidelines to make sure that each patch is conducted optimally.
“The depth of penetration of the heating process is very important,” said Leininger, who is basing his M.S. thesis on infrared road repair. “You don’t want to char the asphalt but, you have to heat it to a specific depth.”
Schwartz has become a proponent of infrared road repair.
“The results of this study should promote the acceptance of infrared asphalt repair as a cost-effective, long-term technique for maintaining roads in the U.S.,” he explained.
The University of Maryland study was made possible by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, which provides grants for university-based research projects that help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Both MIPS and the participating companies contribute funds, which then go towards the university research. MIPS partners have included Under Armour, Black & Decker, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
“Potholes are a consistently vexing challenge for residents of and visitors to Prince George’s County,” said Darrell B. Mobley, director of the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation. “We are excited by the opportunity this new technology brings to help us more efficiently and economically address them.”
About the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program
MIPS, a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, supports university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Commercial products benefiting from MIPS projects have generated more than $30.2 billion in revenue, added thousands of jobs to the region, and contributed to successful products such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit.