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Arapahoe County News

Posted on: March 16, 2021

Arapahoe County takes a brawny approach to road repair


How a “giant paper towel holder” helps fix cracks easier and faster

The Federal Highway Administration recently recognized Arapahoe County's Road and Bridge division for its innovative creation of a "glass grid dispenser" that made fixing wide cracks in asphalt pavement easier and faster.

A solution for fixing wide cracks in asphalt pavement needed a solution of its own. 

Arapahoe County uses glass grid material as an added layer of strength when repairing wide cracks in asphalt pavement. “We use the glass grid product to help our wide crack asphalt patches last longer,” said Douglas Stern, infrastructure manager for Arapahoe County’s Road and Bridge division. Prior to using the product, the crack would resurface through the asphalt patch within a year or two. With the glass grid, we are seeing the oldest patches make it seven years without the crack reflecting through the patches.” 

The problem with using the glass grid material was how ungainly it was. The rolls of the material are heavy, and its stickiness makes it difficult to unroll. “It took two guys to unroll the material,” Stern said. “One person would need to hold the heavy roll while the other person would pull on the sticky roll to get it to unroll.” 

pic_PB_loaderBecause of the difficulties transporting and using the materialStern estimates that only 85 percent of the patches were getting glass grid at the time; that’s when the Road and Bridge staff came up with the “glass grid dispenser. The idea was to construct a metal racksimilar to a giant paper towel holderthat could be affixed to the County’s “patch trucks.” This dispenser would be able to carry the weight of the roll, making the material easier to unroll and allowing it to be changed out quickly. 

The County shop created a prototype of the dispenser and then sent it over to a private welding shop to finalize the build. The total cost to build the dispenser was $650, which the County was able to recoup in labor costs alone within a matter of months. Since the dispenser could be easily reproduced, it has since been added to all of the County’s patch trucks, improving the pavement operations throughout Arapahoe County.

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