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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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7/15/2012 9:02:00 PM
Supervisor pitches idea to fix county's dirt roads
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT- A polymer product used by the U.S. military to make roads in the Mideast may prove to be the solution to Yavapai County's washboard dirt roads.

It's called Soiltac, and county Supervisor Tom Thurman is a big fan.

"What it does is, you grade the road...and then you put (Soiltac) on there, and it seals it off," Thurman said. "And just the cars driving on it-this is what we're seeing in reports from other states - it actually starts turning (the surface) black" and works like asphalt.

Soiltac, made in Chandler by Soilworks, was developed as a "dust palliative" but "heavier (application) rates can generate qualities similar to cement, useful for soil solidification and stabilization found in road building," according to the company's website.

The product is mixed with water, then sprayed onto the surface to be protected. When it dries, it forms a crust.

"By adjusting the application rate, Soiltac can remain effective from weeks to several years," the company said.

The U.S. Department of Defense contracts with Soiltec to supply the product to "the on-going Iraq rebuilding effort."

Thurman said the major appeal of the environmentally friendly Soiltac is its cost: it is a lot cheaper to apply than asphalt. "It's $10,000 to $15,000 per mile of dirt road (to apply), versus a million dollars a mile for asphalt," he said.

That would mean the county could resurface dirt roads it can't afford to pave, said Thurman.

"In my district alone, there's close to 700 miles of county-maintained dirt roads," he said. "This would be great. It costs the taxpayers a fortune to grade the road all the time, and it drives everybody nuts because they fall apart."

The product has been tested on a road in the Verde Valley and looks promising.

County Public Works Director Byron Jaspers is optimistic, but said the test surface has yet to see heavy rain.

"It's held up really well, but we'll have to see how it holds up to monsoon moisture," he said. "We have high hopes."

The next test application will be tougher, Thurman said. "We're going to try it on Antelope Hill Road ... that steep hill, you can blade it and two days later, it looks like you haven't been there for a year. We're going to do that as a test section," he said. That test will come sometime after the monsoon season ends, he added.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: Ralph Winkler

Thurman is an expert on roads.

The Wagoner Road debacle was ample proof of that. They ruined a perfectly good dirt road with some goofball experiment with millings. It soon became far worse than any dirt road this side of Albania. Only recently did they go back and try to repair it. Time will tell.

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: Bill Williams

Ah, Tom Thurman and the Newspaper. Together forever. Any time Tom thinks he needs a political boost and soundbite to remind us he's running for re-election, the paper complies. I'm waiting for an article about what Tom had for breakfast.

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: Everyone's a Critic

Hey Bob, I did that before I posted. Most of the hits I see are redirected from "middle east".

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Article comment by: Preskitt local

MgCl is used for far more than dust control. Dirt roads throughout the West (CO, UT, NM...) are treated with it after being bladed to help bind the aggregate. After a good soaking treatment permeates the road bed, it creates a hardened surface that can last for months (assuming there's minimal heavy truck traffic) before beginning to develop potholes and subsequently washboards. It seems like perhaps a 'weaker' version of Soiltac.

There's definitely enough moisture in the atmosphere here for most of the year for it to be effective. Other Arizona counties use it extensively (Apache and Maricopa, for example), as does the Forest Service on some of its more heavily-traveled roads around the state.

Can anyone else offer insight into MgCl versus Soiltac?

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: TO Preskitt Local

MgCl is used for dust control. It does nothing for washboard roads.

This stuff is purported to help with both dust and washboard.

Here in AZ, it is often too dry for MgCl to draw much moisture out of the air to help with the dust, anyway.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Bob Roberts

Hey, "Everyone's a Critic"--
Google "Mideast." It is a very well-accepted and commonly used word.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Button Square Pants

Here's a good Youtube video showing how Soiltac works and how it's applied.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Preskitt local

Does anyone know how this Soiltac compares to MgCl in terms of how long a single application will last on a dirt road with "average" traffic? And what exactly is soiltac comprised of? Are the chemicals something you want in surface runoff and groundwater? I'd think these sorts of things would be investigated by the author and included in the article, but apparently not.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Everyone's a Critic

The Mideast? What like, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virgina?

The region of the Earth where Iraq is located is called the Middle East. The region of the US where Illinois is located is called the Midwest. There is no such place as the "Mideast".

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Zig E.

Guess my only question is " Would you drink it " ? because what ever chemicals are in it will eventually end up in the groundwater.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Who says that war funds don't help the citizens at home!

I can't help but wonder what business and political links might be driving this new found interest to pave the County's dirt roads.

Perhaps one of the candidates running against Mr. Thurman might check Soiltac's political contributions to the re-elect Tom campaign?

Who knows, Soiltac may be contributing to all the candidates running for Supervisor in the County, just to hedge their bets.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Brian boru

"Thurman said. "We're going to try it on Antelope Hill Road ... that steep hill, you can blade it and two days later, it looks like you haven't been there for a year."

Don't get out much, do you Tom?

Most of the graded roads in your district are like that.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Bradley Wiggens

Skull Valley Resident has it right.

The grading is not properly done. Scraping dust off the tops of the ridges and pushing it into the troughs only smooths the road for a day or two. Then the road is supper for two months until the process is repeated.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Way Out West

To Soiltac Experience:
Thanks for your valuable input. There are two words in your comment that are very important and will be missed by Thurman and his Director, APPLIED CORRECTLY. This is really a tax payer issue. If it works then Thurman and his Director can pat themselves on the back and say see what we did. If it doesn't work out then the crapola will run down hill and the threats, intimidation and write-ups will start. Crown King anyone? Either way the tax payers pay for it

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Happy Granny

I have lived on a dirt road for 15 years, County will not do anything to our road and if we do something ourselfs, they fine us. Whast a wonderful world we live in

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Northwest Yavapai

To Any Surface:
I think you are on to something here. Why don't we ask ,ahh sucks, Thurman and his Director about the boondoggle they caused in Crown King, at the cost of the tax payers. To the rest of you folks here is a question. When you moved to wherever it is you live, were the roads dirt or were they paved? While I do reside in the North West part of the County I am amazed at the amount of money spent in Springer's district on two very remote roads that you have a hard time finding even if you know where they are. I would think that those monies would be better spent on roads that are closer to the Prescott area for the people that spend their monies in town. Those roads are crunbling away. But there must be other interests that are piorities for the politicians. Just an observation.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Nice try

Courier -- what are you doing? Just doing this story gives an incumbent candidate an edge in the election. Let Thurman stand on his own feet and vices for this vote.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Soiltac experience

Soiltac was used in the service for roads and airfields and ground stabilization and erosion control. As long as the soiltac mixture is applied correctly and at least 6" deep, the crown of the road will divert the water off and off the sides of the road.
This is a good alternative to pavement if money is an issue, which it definatley is.
Soiltac life's expectancy greatly reduces with constant heavy traffic, such as from a garbage truck or fire tanker.
The civil engineers in the service were satisfied with the results of this cost effective alternative to pavement.
I remember over time we did see some potholes that needed filling.
But, all in all it served well!

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Another Skull Valley Resident

The Supervisors and County roads people should know that there are many residents and constituents who LIKE living in a rural environment, complete with dirt roads. Things are just fine the way they are, thank you.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Boris Tudeth

700 miles x $15,000 per mile = $10,500,000 for ONE application.

Now everyone can pay more taxes so a few of us can now drive way too fast down country roads.

Tom Thurman, are you serious?

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: ANY surface that has ANY wheel rolled over it WILL develop a washboard surface

It's simple physics.

But won't be simple is addressing the suits to follow, filed by the Sierra Club and the CBD, claiming resource damage by the chemicals.

The USFS and the City of Colorado
just finished a 13 year long project to pave Pike's Peak, after the Sierra Club successfully sued, claiming the gravel the city put on the road surface had contaminated the mountain.

Careful, Tom, the surface looks good, but you just might be stepping into quicksand.

Do some due diligence.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: An American

No! I have seen products like this many times, it will be slippery than snot when wet, and will rust the underside of you vehical.... Save the taxpayers money and buy a blade and operator.

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Skull Valley Resident

The problem with the washboard roads lies mostly in grading techniques. The graders that handle our road need to have a bit more training and oversight. All they do is pull dry fluffy dirt out of the bar ditch and spread a little in the dips and valleys. Sure it looks smooth for a day or two, but then it's right back to the washboard. Folks, you can't fill a pothole with flour and expect a good result. Every time the road is graded the washboard needs to be cut completely to remove the ridge and then spread evenly. I know this would take more time but it makes no sense to grade a road at all if it returns to the same condition in two days!

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012
Article comment by: Yes !

Start with Mayer to Crown King!

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