TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Transportation has deployed six pothole-filling machines to assist maintenance crews as they transition from fighting snow to attacking this spring’s abundant crop of potholes.
Since January, NJDOT crews have filled approximately 121,500 potholes, including nearly 12,000 with six pothole-filling machines that have been in use since early March.
“The harsh winter weather really took a toll on our roads, so we have added Pothole Killer machines to our toolbox as we work to make our roads smooth and safe for New Jersey residents and visitors,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. “The machines help us stretch our forces and fill more potholes in less time because they require fewer people to do the work of a typical five-person crew.”
In FY 10, NJDOT crews filled approximately 147,230 potholes at a cost of about $1.9 million. By the end of FY 11 on June 30, the Department expects to have filled about 190,000, including about 56,000 potholes filled by the machines, at a cost of about $2.1 million.
As motorists become increasingly familiar with the NJDOT’s easy-to-use online pothole reporting form at www.nj.gov/transportation, they are assisting in the fight for a smoother ride by identifying pothole locations. From January through March, motorists reported 4,218 potholes or nearly 2,000 more than they reported during the same three months last year.
The Pothole Killer machines enhance worker safety because it is unnecessary for maintenance personnel to stand near moving traffic while making repairs. Each year in New Jersey, about 6,200 crashes occur in work zones, injuring about 2,200 individuals and causing an average of 15 fatalities. While the vast majority of road construction zone fatalities involve vehicle occupants, work-zone crashes heighten injury risks for workers as well.
The machines require just one person to operate, with another worker operating a safety truck, freeing other workers to fill potholes in the traditional manner.
Another advantage is that they allow the department to make permanent repairs at a time of year when only cold patch material is available. Cold patch asphalt stays soft indefinitely without heating, but makes a temporary repair that lasts for a few months at best. Pothole Killer patches, like those that utilize heated asphalt, last for years.
NJDOT crews switch from using winter cold patch material to hot asphalt in the spring when asphalt plants open. The heated material is used to make standard hot patch repairs or permanent patches. These traditional patching methods require crews of four or five workers.
For large sections of roadway with numerous potholes or deteriorating pavement, crews make permanent repairs by cutting straight borders around the entire affected section, removing several inches of the old road surface, painting the edges with liquid tar and filling with hot patch before tamping or rolling.
NJDOT has leased six Pothole Killer machines from Patch Management, Bensalem, Pa., for four months at a cost of about $337,000. The cost includes the materials that are blended in the truck and injected into potholes, as well as servicing. The machines use pressurized air to clear debris or water from a pothole, and can be used in most weather conditions.
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