How is this truck making pothole repairs permanent?
Potholes can be punishing on your car and wallet. A new AAA survey estimates they cost drivers $6.4 billion per year. They also cost the transportation departments that have to repair the roads.
Cincinnati is in the process of filling 10,000 potholes in three weeks.
But what if work crews could repair potholes permanently? They can, according to Roger Filion, president of Kasi Infrared.
His company makes trucks that heat not only the area needing repair, but a six inch border around the repair. He says, "Once the repair is done, we take our roller and we pinch that repaired area into the heated area, which eliminates any seam."
Using infrared heat to repair potholes is already approved in Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey and other states. Filion says he's trying to get the New York Department of Transportation to use infrared. He'll make a presentation there in two weeks. On the flip side, according to Filion, you can't make a pothole repair in New Jersey unless it's infrared. Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard says the county looked at infrared several years ago but decided against it.
Kasi Infrared has also sold machines to people in Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Russia.
The diagnosis is also high-tech
Northeastern University has a special van with Versatile Onboard Traffic Embedded Roaming Sensors (VOTERS). Professor Ming Wang and his fellow researchers can map the condition of a road quickly.
- Subsurface radar that can penetrate up to three feet.
- Surface radar detects what it is hitting (potholes, manholes).
- Microphones by two wheels listen to the interaction of the tire with the road surface.
- A sensor inside the tire detects pressure changes to determine roughness.
- GPS records the exact location so road crews can find the problem to repair.
These five elements create sound charts and graphs. They show the severity of the road by color.
Ultimately, Wang wants to provide road conditions to travelers "so someday there will be a Google Road that we will be able to report every city and their road conditions in a map."
His research has spun off to a privately held company called Street Scan. The hope is franchises will open across the country and municipalities will hire the company to assess their roadways and come up with a plan to extend their life.
In the meantime, cities continue filling potholes.
An ice cream company is dedicated to the cause too. Sales from Ashby's Sterling Ice Cream's Pot Hole flavor, complete with "black-tar fudge" and "asphalt chunks," go to help fund pothole repair in Michigan.