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NZ developed epoxy resin road surface nominated for award

Kim Stewart Dec 12
NZ developed epoxy resin road surface nominated for award
Safety of both workers and all road users is at the forefront of the NZ Transport Agency’s summer roadworks programme.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has been nominated as a finalist in the Engineering Innovation Award category of the ENVI Awards 2019 for a new roading product that is easy to use and more sustainable than traditional material.

Epoxy Modified Open Graded Porous Asphalt (EM-OGPA) was developed in partnership with WSPOPUS and Fulton Hogan.

The product aims to solve the problem that traditional low noise surfaces fail earlier than expected due to oxidation of the bitumen, making them very expensive to maintain.

An international research programme, which NZTA and partners took part in, found the same short life problem was occurring in road surfaces worldwide apart from one existing product – epoxy modified bitumen binder.

“Developed in the Cold War, this is incredibly strong and heat resistant with a more than 40-year track record of performance in specialist applications,” explains NZTA principal pavement engineer David Alabaster.

“Unfortunately it just wasn’t practical for routine paving use for a number of reasons. Paving crews had a much shorter than usual time window to lay the material in, opening to traffic was both time and temperature dependent, it was also expensive and if things went wrong the asphalt plant, pavers and trucks could end up full of a product that could ruin them.”

NZTA and partners then set about developing it into a practical product for every day application – Epoxy Porous Asphalt – commonly known EM-OGPA – which is now the leading standard in the industry.

David says that Epoxy Porous Asphalt has one-sixth of the life cycle costs, which means fewer resources over its 40 year life span, and less impact on the environment dramatically improving the durability of the road surface.

Other benefits of the product include the fact it is quiet and smooth, is easy to make and use and little modification is needed to existing equipment to use it.

The product has already been used internationally with the Netherlands recently laying its first epoxy porous asphalt trial this year and the American Federal Highways Administration has reopened its research on the topic after the success of the New Zealand approach.

Summer Work Programme Ahead

Safety of both workers and all road users is at the forefront of the NZ Transport Agency’s summer roadworks programme, says Transport Agency journey manager Peter Brown with speed and space being two key considerations.

“We want to keep everyone safe when driving through road work sites,” he says. “Slow down, leave space – about two car lengths between you and the car in front – and be patient through road works,” he says.

Peter says that motorists should also be sure to follow the temporary speed restrictions. Speed limits through work sites also help to protect the work being done.

“For example, keeping your speed down where sealing work is underway or has just been completed not only helps chip to settle in the new road surface, not on your car, it will also prevent stone chips flying into windscreens, and it will help protect our crews from injuries.”

Peter says that even if drivers can’t see workers on the road or it looks like works are finished it doesn’t mean hazards aren’t there.

He says people often wonder why the Transport Agency undertakes road maintenance work when everyone is on holiday.

He says that spring and summer is the best time for resurfacing as daylight hours are longer and the warm temperatures and dry air help the new seal stick to the road surface and last longer.

But the Transport Agency ceases most work before busy holiday travel periods like Christmas and New Year, to minimise disruption to people’s journeys.

Travellers can view planned road works ahead of their journey by checking the NZTA real time journey planner: www.nzta.govt.nz/holidayjourneys The journey planner includes road worksites, area warnings, traffic updates and state highways road works information. www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz

Transport Agency Summer Road Trip Tips

• Check your car is in good condition before you head off. This means checking things like tyre pressure and tread, spare wheel, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights.

• Drive to the conditions – weather, the road, time of day, amount of traffic etc.

• Take regular breaks to stay alert and share the driving if you can.

• Be patient – overtaking is unlikely to make a significant difference to your journey time so stay safe.

• Don’t rush – allow plenty of time for your journey.

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