New asphalt mixing formula could reduce potholes and save money

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – More potholes are opening back up on Indianapolis roads after being filled. The fluctuating temperatures this week aren't helping to keep those holes filled.

Right now, there are more than 8,000 open pothole requests on DPW's pothole viewer. Many are wondering if there is a more permanent fix. Purdue University Engineer Professor John Haddock has a solution. It's called Superpave 5.

"We've tried to change the asphalt mix itself, the way we put it together, in order to increase the density and thereby the life of the pavement," Haddock explained.

The asphalt is the same, but the way it's mixed is new. The formula creates less space for air bubbles and moisture to seep-in over time.

"You’re protecting the pavement from aging as quickly. Because moisture and air have a harder time getting in, you should have fewer problems with cracking, therefore fewer problems with potholes," said Haddock.

The asphalt mix is designed to give roads a longer life span. So far, it was tested on three Indiana roads including a road widening project on Georgetown Road in December 2014.

"Research has shown if you increase the density of the pavement by about one to two percent, you increase the life by one or two years," Haddock said.

Experts say the mix doesn't cost any more than conventional hot asphalt. In fact, in the long run, Haddock said it could be savings.

"If you don’t have to re-do a road for one or two years, that runs into the millions and millions of dollars a year to be saved," said Haddock. "Any hot mix plant can make it. It’s not rocket science. We just changed the way we put the mix together."

A DPW spokesperson said Superpave 5 is not part of INDOT's specifications list, which means the city can't use it for projects. They also said they're not sure if it will change in the future.

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