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Comer Contracting Restores Key Middlefield Road With Asphalt Rubber Chip Seal

by: Paul Fournier
A Weiler P385 Paver equipped with Topcon Grade Controls places a levelling course of asphalt concrete prior to installation of asphalt rubber chip seal on Jackson Hill Road.
A Weiler P385 Paver equipped with Topcon Grade Controls places a levelling course of asphalt concrete prior to installation of asphalt rubber chip seal on Jackson Hill Road.
Comer Contracting crew uses a Weiler P385 Paver to install levelling course of bituminous concrete on a collector road in Middlefield, Connecticut. (Photo courtesy of John Giammatteo)
Comer Contracting crew uses a Weiler P385 Paver to install levelling course of bituminous concrete on a collector road in Middlefield, Connecticut. (Photo courtesy of John Giammatteo)
Comer Contracting’s Etnyre “Big Chipper” Quad Chipspreader broadcasts cover aggregate for asphalt rubber chip seal of Middlefield road.
Comer Contracting’s Etnyre “Big Chipper” Quad Chipspreader broadcasts cover aggregate for asphalt rubber chip seal of Middlefield road.
The contractor performs compaction on levelling course using two steel drum rollers – an Ingersoll Rand DD70 and a Wacker Neuson RD27.
The contractor performs compaction on levelling course using two steel drum rollers – an Ingersoll Rand DD70 and a Wacker Neuson RD27.
An insulated, heated Etnyre 5,000 gallon mixing trailer transfers asphalt rubber binder to Volvo VHD triaxles with Etnyre 4,200 gallon distributor.
An insulated, heated Etnyre 5,000 gallon mixing trailer transfers asphalt rubber binder to Volvo VHD triaxles with Etnyre 4,200 gallon distributor.
Compaction of asphalt rubber chip sealed road is performed by two Hypac C530AH 9-Wheel Rubber-Tire Rollers.
Compaction of asphalt rubber chip sealed road is performed by two Hypac C530AH 9-Wheel Rubber-Tire Rollers.
A busy but failing collector road in a small Connecticut town was given new life recently with the application of a traditional pavement preservation treatment modified with ground tire rubber.

Comer Contracting applied chip seal fortified with crumb rubber modifier (CRM) to Jackson Hill Road, an important thoroughfare passing through the center of this community of 4,200 in the south-central part of the state. Designated as a collector road in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), Jackson Hill Road has an annual daily average traffic count of 3,500, according to a 2010 study. Like 90 percent of the town’s 35-mile road network, Jackson Hill Road has a pavement comprised of an unknown number of chip seal layers.

Chip Seals Prevail
“We have very few roads paved with bituminous concrete, and no gravel roads. The rest are covered with chip seal,” said Jason Wickham, the town’s Highway Foreman who reports to First Selectman Ed Bailey. A Highway Department employee for 34 years, Wickham said the town has a regular chip seal program performed by private contractors. He noted the town has been doing this for about 40 years, with the goal of having 3 to 5 miles chip sealed each year. This year they’re doing 3.5 miles of regular chip seal, but they are also having asphalt rubber chip seal applied to Jackson Hill Road and a smaller local road. This separate work is being performed by Comer Contracting.

“Those roads have been chip sealed at least a half-dozen times, so the combined material thickness might be 5 or 6 inches, and they were bleeding asphalt through. In addition, Jackson Hill Road had lots of wheel ruts. The road wasn’t straight from center line to shoulder. It had too much crown – too much material in the middle. Motorcycles couldn’t stay in the right lane. So the road had to be flattened out first.”

Wickam said they were looking for a pavement preservation treatment that provides more durability and longevity than the regular chip seal. He said they decided to try asphalt rubber chip seal after a number of discussions about the process with Martin Comer, a registered professional engineer, and President of Comer Contracting based in Newington, Connecticut.

This was the first time that Wickham had seen this process carried out. “I noticed it called for a lot more precautions than a regular chip seal, especially the temperature of the asphalt. It was very hot,” he said.

Meeting ASTM Specs
Martin Comer is optimistic about the duration of service offered by the asphalt rubber chip seal. “This product is a tenacious, flexible, lasting material. You can put it over bituminous concrete, and it will absorb cracking stresses. Given the Jackson Hill Road’s traffic, its rutting, and liquid asphalt bleed-through, we thought it was a good candidate for the asphalt rubber product.”
Wacker Compact Equipment
Your local Wacker Neuson Corp dealer
Burris Equipment

Comer is so confident of the future of asphalt rubber product that he bought an asphalt/rubber blending plant, which has supplied the material for both state and municipal projects. To qualify as asphalt rubber, the blend meets requirements of ASTM International, the organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products and systems. According to ASTM standards, the material must be a blend of asphalt cement, reclaimed tire rubber, and certain additives in which the rubber component is at least 15 percent by weight of the total blend. Moreover, the material has to react in the hot asphalt cement sufficiently to cause swelling of the rubber particles.

The recycled tire rubber used for the blend is classified as crumb rubber modifier (CRM) because of its small size. The asphalt cement and CRM are mixed and interacted at high temperatures and continuously agitated in storage.

SAM Restores Pavements
Asphalt rubber is seeing growing use as binder in chip seal applications, a pavement treatment also called a Stress Absorbing Membrane, or SAM. This surface treatment is used primarily to restore surface frictional characteristics, seal cracks and provide a waterproof membrane to minimize the intrusion of surface water into the pavement structure. SAMs minimize reflective cracking from underlying distressed asphalt or rigid pavements, and can help maintain serviceability of the pavements for a longer period. SAMs are primarily used for pavement preservation, maintenance, and limited repairs.

In a SAM application, a hot asphalt rubber binder is sprayed on the existing pavement surface followed immediately by an application of uniform sized cover aggregate, usually ranging between 3/8 and 1/2-inch. The aggregate, which has been pre-coated with a light application of performance grade asphalt, is rolled and embedded into the binder membrane.

Comer has placed asphalt rubber chip seal for the Connecticut Department of Transportation on state-owned roads and also for municipal roads in a number of towns.

Levelling the Road Surface
Martin’s son, Rob Comer, Vice President of Comer Contracting, provided the following details about the Middlefield project:

Comer Contracting, Inc. performed pavement leveling and the application of Asphalt Rubber Stress Absorbing Membrane (SAM) for the restoration of Jackson Hill Road. The existing pavement consisted of multiple layers of conventional chip seal and had significant rutting and flushing of liquid asphalt. Leveling was performed to improve ride quality, fill ruts, and act as a barrier against flushing. This was followed by the application of asphalt rubber chip seal. This type of treatment was selected because of its resilience to reflective cracking, ability to allow rapid return of traffic, and performance on high traffic roadways.

Epiroc
Your local Atlas Copco CMT USA dealer
Brandeis Machinery

Pavement levelling was a three-day process during which Tilcon’s Wallingford plant supplied about 1,200 tons of 3/8-inch dense graded bituminous concrete containing 20 to 25 percent recycled asphalt pavement (RAP). Comer placed the hot mix asphalt (HMA) using a Weiler P385 Paver equipped with Topcon Grade Controls. HMA was hauled to the jobsite by three Volvo VHD trucks and one Mack Granite truck. All trucks were outfitted with Etnyre Falcon Livebottoms. The contractor performed compaction using two steel drum rollers – an Ingersoll Rand DD70 and a Wacker Neuson RD27.

Putting 1,400 Recycled Tires to Good Use
Once the levelling was completed, Comer began placing the approximately 42,000 square yards of SAM over 2.5 miles of town roadways. Asphalt rubber was supplied by the company’s D&H Manufacturing crumb rubber blending plant. This facility mixes 30 mesh recycled crumb rubber with PG 58-28 asphalt binder. About 19 tons of recycled crumb rubber was utilized, an amount equivalent to the rubber from nearly 1,400 passenger car tires.

The hot material was delivered to the jobsite by two insulated, heated and agitated Etnyre 5,000 gallon mixing trailers. At the job, the asphalt rubber blend was transferred to two Volvo VHD triaxles with Etnyre 4,200 gallon distributors.

Rob Comer pointed out that the Etnyre distributors have the capability to automatically clear fouled nozzles during the spraying operation.

The distributors sprayed the liquid asphalt rubber binder on the roadway at the rate of .55 to .60 gallons per square yard. Tilcon made daily deliveries of the cover aggregate – a 3/8-inch single-sized trap rock stone that had been heated and precoated with 0.3 to 0.5 percent PG 64-22 binder.

The Final Step and Encouraging Outlook

An Etnyre “Big Chipper” Quad Chipspreader with 10- to 20-foot-width capability broadcast the cover aggregate on the roadway at the rate of 30 pounds per square yard. Comer used the same Livebottom trucks that were used for levelling paving, to deliver cover aggregate to the chipspreader. Rolling was performed by two Hypac C530AH 9-Wheel Rubber-Tire Rollers with a static weight of 9 tons. After the chip seal had been rolled and cooled sufficiently, Mobile M9 and Challenger MT4H Sweepers were used to remove excess aggregate, and traffic was allowed back on the road.

In commenting on the finished roadway, Martin Comer said of the asphalt rubber chip seal application, “I think it will provide a tougher and smoother riding surface, and even allow for better snow removal. This road should get 10 years out of it.”

Photos courtesy of John Giammatteo

Kleemann
Your local Wirtgen America dealer
Brandeis Machinery
Vogele
Your local Wirtgen America dealer
Brandeis Machinery