By Debbie Adams
Several members of Vinton Town Council and the town leadership team took a field trip to Pitzer Road in the Mount Pleasant area of Roanoke County on July 18 to learn about Full-Depth Reclamation (FDR), a process recommended by VDOT for the rebuilding of about a half mile of Mountain View Road in Vinton.
Highway infrastructure maintenance with a never-ending cycle of cracks, holes, and repairs is a common source of citizen complaints. Generally, the asphalt is not to blame, but the road base.
Common solutions are filling in holes, sealing the cracks, or covering the pavement with another layer of asphalt – removing the old pavement, hauling it away, and bringing in the new – all options the town has utilized on Mountain View. However, eventually problems with the base need to be addressed. That’s what the town is planning for Mountain View Road – solving the problem of the base.
Full-Depth Reclamation recycles materials from a deteriorated asphalt pavement and, with the addition of cement and water, creates a new stabilized base. There is no need to haul in aggregates or haul out old materials for disposal.
The FDR process saves costs and time in comparison to other methods of road rebuilding and is also more environmentally friendly than conventional road construction techniques.
According to Town Manager Pete Peters, council wanted to see the process in action before making a commitment to using the FDR process on Mountain View. No formal action will be required by council, as funds have already been authorized for the $1.1 million project, which will require $550,000 from the Town of Vinton (coming from CIP funds) and $550,000 from VDOT funding. VDOT will take the lead in the Vinton project.
The project is tentatively planned for June or July of 2024, once schools are out for the summer, depending upon scheduling with contractors and subcontractors.
The Mountain View Road project will involve road rehabilitation from Washington Avenue to the town limits, about a mile in length, or two lane-miles.
Peters said the FDR process, in addition to being more economical, is more of a long-term solution than traditional repaving and is a trending technology with VDOT. The FDR pavement is expected to have a life of 30 years.
Vinton Public Works Director Bo Herndon says that the FDR process is fairly new to the area and not widely used up to this point – although it was developed in the 1960s.
According to David Stowell with Southeast Cement, the process was initially used along the I-95 corridor in eastern Virginia and now has moved west for use on I-81.
During the Town Council visit to the Pitzer Road site, Herndon and representatives from general contractor Boxley and subcontractors Southeast Cement and New Field were on hand to answer questions. Several VDOT and Federal Highway Administration officials were there to observe and learn about the FDR process as well.
In simplest terms, the FDR process involves a train-like formation of vehicles, hooked together, that recycle the existing roadway on-site.
The first truck lays down a thin layer of cement powder (the concentration is predetermined by analyzing core samples beforehand). It is followed by a water truck hooked to a pulverizer/reclaimer vehicle which mills/grinds up the existing roadway (pavement, dirt, rocks) to a depth of about eight inches at the Pitzer Road project (this can vary) and mixes it with the cement powder and water to form a new stabilized base which is spread on the roadway to the depth required. Afterwards, a compactor (roller), so heavy and powerful that bystanders can feel the ground shake, uses a foot roller to compact the mixture forming a bond. Paving and sealing follow.
The process requires fewer trucks for hauling, less equipment, and produces fewer materials to be hauled away than traditional methods. This process shortens the construction schedule and reduces traffic disruption. The Pitzer Road project took about two days followed by another day of paving. One lane of the roadway remained open each day during the road construction process to provide access for motorists.
Town Council members and staff were impressed with what they saw on their visit to the Pitzer Road project and the benefits and savings with the FDR process.