South Jordan invents road sealer
South Jordan Public Works staff members have invented a machine that could potentially save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The machine seals streets by applying a product called GSB-88 in a process similar to waterproofing a wood deck.
The sealer was Streets Manager Jed Bell’s idea as part of a public works preventative maintenance process to save the city money wherever it can.
“Every dollar you spend on preventative maintenance saves you $6 on reconstruction,” Bell said.
Bell, as part of the preventative maintenance team, saw the value of similar sealers but knew the city could never afford the $250,000 price tag for the truck. The tank and applicator would have cost $85,000 alone.
“That was holding us back for a long time,” Bell said.
Instead, he approached maintenance worker Tom Land, a certified welder, to see if he could design and construct a tank and spray bar and find a way to mount it to a city-owned flatbed truck.
Land came back with a plan and a price tag for the job – a sweet $5,000.
Bell said he was surprised.
“That’s extremely inexpensive. We thought ‘If it was that easy, more people would be doing it.’”
But Land and city crews made it happen – with just the $5,000 and 160 man-hours.
“There were a few hurdles that had to be crossed. Our guys are way talented and were able to get through those,” Bell said.
Crews began using the sealer truck in July.
“It works beautifully,” Associate Public Works Director Aaron Sainsbury said.
Land has already made refinements to the system, including a mechanized way to open 26 valves simultaneously to apply the sealer. Sealer truck manufacturers said it couldn’t be done – the $250,000 model uses a computerized system—but Land found a way.
Crews were expected to finish up the last of this year’s projects in early September.
In the future, “Our goal is to install GSB-88 on 1.8 million square feet of asphalt every summer,” Sainsbury said.
The sealant will be utilized on city subdivision streets built after 2007 – about 35 percent of the city’s subdivision roads – on a five-year rotation.
“The older streets are already deteriorated to the point where we can’t apply it,” Sainsbury said.
Roads with higher volumes of traffic are not good candidates for the sealant, as damage to them is primarily caused by the impact of greater traffic, he said.
The savings are significant.
Bell had a contractor estimate how much it would cost to do one million square feet (most of the qualifying city streets). The bid came back at 13 cents per square foot. Using GSB-88 will cost the city just 4.2 cents per square foot.
The truck is also utilized year-round. In the winter it spreads brine and ploughs the streets. This makes it one of a kind.
Bell and Sainsbury estimate sealing city roads with GSB-88 will prolong their life by three times.
“If we apply it every five years to a road, that road will last 60 years,” Bell said.
Prior to the invention of the GSB-88 sealer, the city could only afford to budget to repair pot holes and perform crack sealing.
The public works department is willing to share how they came up with their invention [which they have no plans to patent] with other communities.
“We’d be happy to, if they can find someone to build it the way [Land] did,” Sainsbury said.
But they’re not sharing Land. They’re planning on holding on to this innovator.
Fortunately, “he likes being appreciated. He’s not one to chase the money,” Bell said.
Land has also made the job of city road crews easier with the invention.
“These guys absolutely love what they’re doing. They’d much rather do this [apply the sealant] than go out in the winter and jackhammer out and repair the potholes,” Bell said.