DARTMOUTH — Dartmouth is a pioneer in using a special asphalt that reduces traffic noise and is more durable, officials say.
“If this is the best quality product we can find and it lasts longer then that’s what we want to use,” said David Hickox, public works director who said he is excited about the paving job completed last week on parts of Tucker and Russells Mills roads.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to partner with the town to do this and it’s also nice to have a town try something new,” said Andy Brewer, vice president of construction at P.J. Keating Co. in Acushnet, the paving contractor.
The project is a unique partnership between a UMass Dartmouth expert, a contractor willing to experiment, and a forward-thinking town department, said Hickox. The three sides met about a month ago and discussed whether they could use the special mix, so far used only on highways by the state, on local roads.
Walaa Mogawer, engineering professor and paving expert at UMass Dartmouth, allowed former student Joshua Medeiros, now a town civil engineer, to use his lab to test the mix, saving the town several hundred dollars, “because we are trying to get our roads to last longer. If they last longer, it’s less money spent to keep them up to par,” Medeiros said.
He estimated the life of the pavement could be 10 years.
Tucker Road was last repaved in 1997-98 and needed resurfacing after last winter. The project spans less than two miles between Eddy Street and Country Club Boulevard on Tucker and a small stretch of Russells Mills near the DPW headquarters. It cost about $135,000, Hickox said.
“Visually, it’s smoother looking and we are extremely pleased with the high-quality job,” he said. “The town appreciates the university working with us and stretching our dollars.”
What makes it different from a regular paving project is the new “superpave” mix. It uses coarser materials that fit better together to form a smoother surface, reducing traffic noise and resulting in a more compact finish. It allows for a continuous paving job reducing bumps and changes in the roadway so the project was completed in a day. It also involves stringent quality control from beginning to end, contractors said.
“The old DOT system was one size fits all. This allowed us the freedom to design the mix according to our system,” said Matthew Teto, quality manager at P.J. Keating.
If it’s better, why haven’t other towns used it? Old habits die hard, contractors said.
“Maybe other towns don’t have the resources we have,” Hickox said.