Storms, traffic and growth take a toll on county roads
"They're not your typical county roads anymore."
Jon Kleinheksel knows – he's been the director of Collin County Public Works for the last 17 years, and has seen the changes, both good and bad, around the county, and the evolving demands on our infrastructure. Once a series of rural dirt and rock roads connecting ranches and farms with our towns and cities, our county roads today have to bear up under the tremendous corroding effects of weather, growing numbers of heavyweight commercial transport vehicles, and escalating traffic due to our rapid population and business growth.
Weather has played a big part in how much gets done on our roads. "We've come out of a two and a half year cycle where weather was our main focus," said Jon. Torrential rains and ice and more rain has wreaked havoc on[RA1] our roads, taking our Public Works resources away from other projects to keep our roadways safe and clear. The amount of rain, on average almost double the levels of a normal year, has resulted in extensive emergency repairs to over 500 roads and a 12 to 18 month delay on scheduled road projects.
Such as the ambitious 50 Miles program. This road renovation program's goal is to upgrade all dirt and rock county roads to asphalt. Over 420 miles have been upgraded, with about 60 miles left to do.
Collin County's incredible growth is literally wearing our roads out. Besides the rapid increase in residential population, we're experiencing huge commercial development in the urban and rural areas. And in addition to the increased traffic, there is also the problem of weight – as in overweight vehicles. There are currently 11,242 "super heavyweight" (80,000 lbs. and above) vehicle permits just in our county alone.
So continual renovation of our roads has become a necessity: as roads wear out and break under tremendous loads unforeseen a couple of decades ago, they need to be torn out and replaced with new roads. Enter Full Depth Reclamation (FDR), a more effective and economical method to remove and replace roadways.
This diagram shows the heart of the FDR machine: the milling drum literally chews up the old pavement along with the subbase (A), grinding and mixing the material together to produce a new recycled subbase (B).
So far this year, Public Works has reclaimed 45.5 miles of roadway involving 47 roads. FDR proceeds at a rate of about ¼ mile per day (on a good day). The process not only involves the mechanical recycling of the pavement and subbase, but also all the logistics required leading up to getting the machines on the road.
Once FDR is completed, the route is leveled and asphalted as usual, resulting in a completely new roadway.
None of these road projects are simple – a lot of coordination is involved with many moving parts, including not only the wide variety of Public Works crews completing the multiple stages of road construction and repairs, but also scheduling, traffic rerouting and other logistical issues, communication and synchronization with utilities, landowners and businesses in impacted areas. Not to mention the staff required to maintain all the heavy machinery, transportation of materials and administrative support keeping the money and paperwork all in order.