New product could aid rural road paving

Some folks are predicting a long cold and wet winter. From the looks of the past few weeks they could be right about the wet part. Depending on who you talk to, Milam County has received anywhere from 20 to 30 inches across the county since September — so much that we will pretty well meet or exceed our annual average, and it was a drought year.

No doubt the rain was needed. Ponds that were dry are now overflowing and the winter grains have really taken off with the moisture and cool weather. Now we need just a little drying time to let all of this rain soak in. I am not complaining, but too much of a good thing can bring problems.

One of those problems is county roads, especially in rural counties. The many miles of gravel roads in the county have taken a beating. The recent rains have taken some roads from good shape to barely passable. County employees have been doing what they can to keep traffic moving, but too wet is simply too wet. You just cannot blade mud.

We constantly hear folks talking about paving roads in Milam County. The last time I checked on road paving, it was running about $15,000 per mile; could be more now. In some areas even paving would have washed away and we would still be in bad shape in some parts of the county.

While paving now would be prohibitively expensive, there is some hope on the horizon. A new product introduced by a United States company could be an affordable way to help maintain county roads across the state. Envirotac II is a product developed by Env ironmental Products & Applications Inc. for the stabilization of loose soils and dust control.

The U.S. Military has been using Envirotac II for many years now. The product was first introduced in Yuma, Arizona where it was applied over the proving grounds for soil stabilization so that airplanes such as Harriers and helicopters could land dust free over sandy areas. Since then it has been used in the Middle East and is the military's number one choice for dust control.

Envirotac II is an acrylic copolymer that is not only effective for stabilizing dust and erosion; it also is effective for lowering job cost. The product is a syrupy "goo" that is mixed with water and applied as a top dressing to harden loose soil. Due to its consistency and color the U.S. Marine Corps has nicknamed the product Rhino Snot.

Envirotac II has been used all over the world on unpaved roads. When applied it cements the soil particles together increasing compaction and creating a tough layer of protection. This eliminates dust, ruts and wash boarding.

One county precinct has been using the product on a test basis just to see how it would hold up under Milam County conditions. At last report the test areas were still holding up in spite of the high rainfall. One of the real questions is just how long it will hold up under Central Texas conditions. Company literature states the product will last 12 to 24 months on unpaved roads.

The real beauty of the product is that the cost is affordable. As I mentioned earlier last time I checked cost of traditional paving was running somewhere in the $15,000 per mile range. From what I have been told Envirotac II can be applied for under $2,000 per mile.

Could be one of those things that sounds too good to be true is actually true for a change.

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2009-11-05 digital edition

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