After moving to his Desert Hills home, located off Desert Hills Drive on 29th Ave., some five years ago, Strauss said he was assured his dirt road would be surfaced. “At some point, especially with the economy being where it’s at and the state being broke I wondered if it would ever get built,” he said. “We had people sell to get out of here. They couldn’t handle the constant dust.”
While Maricopa County couldn’t budget to pave the road with asphalt they came up with what they think will be a solution, one being tried out not only on Strauss’ street, which has approximately 36 homes, but also on 12th St. north off of Circle Mountain Road.
The project, which was completed on Feb. 16, involved the County working with a corporation called Soilworks.
Based out of Chandler, the group uses an environmentally friendly liquid copolymer to stabilize and solidify the soil, providing erosion control and dust suppression.
While it looks similar to asphalt it comes at a much cheaper price.
“To pave a road with asphalt you’re looking at anywhere from $7 to $12 a square yard,” Leon Adair, a Maintenance Engineer for Maricopa County said. “With this product you’re looking at approximately $2.20 a square yard. If it holds up the way they indicate it will it’s something we’ll consider using on a larger scale in the future.”
Maricopa Engineering Inspector Elvira Seta said the copolymer works much like a glue. While asphalt is prone to cracking when the dirt beneath settles the copolymer has a flexible quality that should adapt to the environment.
The newly paved roads consist of 2,112 feet in length on 12th Street and some 3,160 feet on 29th Ave., for a total just under a mile between the two streets. Seta has been monitoring the project and will be checking in regularly in the coming weeks to see how well the road holds up under traffic and weather. “We’re curious to see how it does after some rain,” she said on Thursday.
The contract with Soilworks guarantees the road will hold up for seven years
with yearly maintenance. Seta said she talked to many of the drivers on both roads. She estimates that 12th St. sees anywhere from 100-150 cars go by each day.
“I’ve spent the last couple days out here and the smiles on the driver’s faces are very rewarding,” she said. “Up until now if they went any where over 10 miles per hour they were kicking up dust everywhere. All I keep hearing is how great this is.” Adair said he anticipates he’ll have a good idea of the long-term viability of the new roads within three months.
“I think that will be enough time to have an idea of whether they’ll hold up well enough against the weather and the traffic,” he said. Soilworks will return to the roads after six months to perform some maintenance. Strauss said he and his neighbors are more than impressed. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and the consensus is, ‘oh my God this is fantastic,’” he said. Seta only sees one problem. “I’ve talked to people that live on other streets in the area and they want to know why their street wasn’t picked and when we’re going to take care of their street,” she said. “Depending on how this holds up we very well could be back sometime in the near future.”
To learn more about Soilworks go to soilworks.com.
Original article as published February 23, 2011