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Under the Dome: On the road again

Bob Rankin
Under the Dome
Damian Leyba and Rep. Bob Rankin
Submitted |

I use part of the summer learning about how our tax dollars are spent. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Damian Leyba, a project manager who works for the Colorado Department of Transportation at his daughter’s graduation party at Rifle High School. Tressa had been a participant in our Intern in the Field program. Damian invited me to tour his current project, paving of State Highway 133 from Carbondale past Redstone.

My father was a project manager for the Mississippi State Highway Department, and I remember going out on jobs with him when I was in high school and observing paving operations, so I was especially interested.

What I saw was a truly amazing advancement in technology and process.

Tracy Trulove, the regional public information officer for CDOT, offered this description:

The repaving of SH 133 was called a “heater remix” project.

Heater remix utilizes the existing road base and then adds some virgin mix and a rejuvenating agent. The process requires heating the roadway with propane heaters, milling half an inch and continuing this process four times until 2 inches of the existing roadway is milled. The recycled base, virgin paving mix and rejuvenating agent are then placed in a hopper that mixes the concoction thoroughly before it is placed down for the paver and followed by two rollers for compaction.

On the SH 133 project about 30,000 tons of material was milled and reused while about 3,000 tons of new mix was added to the equation. Utilizing this type of recycled material adds some time to the cooling down of the material before it is used to pave the highway but by doing this you get a better compaction rate. The “hot in place” recycling nature of the project exemplifies a green initiative, and also is predicted to increase the longevity of the highway by eight to 10 years.

Originally, the specifications for the project had production running at a mile a day but based on the density tests meeting all of the specs the project team has accomplished 2.25-2.5 miles per day, thus getting the paving piece of the project completed more quickly. The process will also drastically improve the smoothness of the highway. The highway will be capped off with a chip seal as a protective layer, intended to further increase highway longevity.

Leyba had this to say about the project:

“The Colorado Department of Transportation’s top priority has always been the safety of their workers and the traveling public. The heater/remix operation on SH 133 was no exception. By doing a heater/remix operation CDOT was able to use the existing material on the highway, add some oil and virgin mix and compact back into place. By doing this method we saved tax dollars by not excavating a pit for new aggregate, which proved to be environmentally friendly. This also prevents additional trucking to haul the material on the project site, giving the taxpayers the most bang for their buck.”

The heater/remix operation was a success. It began with a very good mix design from the prime contractor United companies, and it carried over to their subcontractors.

Dustrol Inc. placed over 252,000 square yards heater/remix material with all densities being within CDOT’s specifications.

A1 Traffic Control provided a pilot car operation for the duration of the heater/remix operation. This proved to be the safest way to get the traveling public around the heater/remix operation with minimal delays.

In conclusion, it was a total team effort by everyone and the cooperation with the local stakeholders that made this project a success.”

As your representative, my concern for Colorado is that we are way behind on these projects. Hundreds of miles all over the state need repair. Our gas tax doesn’t cover the needed funds anymore, and we don’t have general fund revenues to transfer into transportation. Any suggestions?

“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his second term in the Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.


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