BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – A new road surfacing program using disposed shingles has some rural Lee County residents shouting from the rooftops.
The program, which was brought to the Lee County Board of Supervisors by Great River Regional Waste Authority Director Wade Hamm, is proving to be a dust-free alternative to the typical gravel or sealant programs.
Supervisor Gary Folluo commended the Lee County Secondary Roads Department on Tuesday for the work that has been done at the intersections of Valley and Hilton roads, and Valley and Johnson Street roads, both just west of Keokuk city limits.
The intersections are now a mix of ground up shingles and gravel at about a 2 to 1 ratio. Hamm, who was down at the Valley and Hilton road intersection, pointed to a dump truck coming down the road on the Valley Road headed south kicking up a bunch of dust, but when it hit the new shingle gravel mix, the dust dissipated.
“That’s what this program does,” Hamm said. “You saw that dust just go away once the truck hit that new surface.”
To date, the county has applied about 900 tons of the mixture on the two intersections which total just over a mile combined. The cost to the city for the mixture is about $20/ton or about $18,000 so far. But Lee County’s Assistant Engineer, Ben Hull, said the county has been gleaning information from other counties, including Scott County, and the new mixture in that county has lasted five years or better with little to no maintenance.
The mixture is grated in with existing gravel and county crews don’t need to roll the surface during application. Hamm said vehicle travel will compress the surface because the shingles are made of asphalt which warms and becomes the binder of the surface.
Hull also said the surface doesn’t “washboard”, which is when cars experience rapid bumping when approaching an intersection, nor are they showing potholes.
Hull said the county wants to watch the progress of the two intersections through the winter and, then in the spring, make decisions on how to move forward, including doing other intersections.
County resident Mary Van Pelt suggested the intersection at Airport and Middle roads where Central Lee students who are open-enrolled from other districts are transferred onto buses would be a good place to start. Supervisor Matt Pflug agreed.
“We want to watch what happens with those surfaces that we’re testing,” Hull said. “We’re hearing great things out of Scott County, and the other good thing is we’re starting where they are and they’ve been researching for about three years now.”
Scott County has used mixtures ranging from 1-to-1 ratios all the way to 3-to-1 ratios in shingle to gravel.
Hamm said the benefit to GRWWA is that it keeps shingles out of the landfill which extends the life of the landfills. Currently, GRWWA accepts all shingles at no charge as long as foreign materials, outside of the nails, are removed.
“The shingles can have nails in them because they just get ground up and become part of the mixture but other materials need to be separated. As long as they’ve done that, there is no charge for dumping the shingles,” he said.
He said he’s sent about 1,500 tons of shingles to Gray for grinding and has about another 400 tons on hand. Considering it takes about 900 tons to do just over a mile at the current mix ratio, the county would be hard pressed to find enough to cover all its rural roads.
“The supply will never be enough that we will ever be able to do all the miles of gravel road in the county. It’s going to be something where we selectively choose locations to use this material on,” Hull told the board.
The shingles are picked up and hauled to Gray Quarries in Hamilton where they are ground up and then sold back at the per ton charge.
Folluo said he wanted to give Hamm credit for bringing the idea to the attention of the board.
“He put the bug in our ear about doing this project and I think it’s worked out real good so far.”
In other action, the board:
• voted 4-0 to approve an amendment to the county’s bid policy regarding emergency repairs purchases in which the chairman of the supervisors can authorize purchases or contractors for emergency repairs for any public improvements. The chairman would make a finding of necessity and obtain a certificate from a licensed engineer that the repair is immediately necessary and then either take action or call a telephonic or in-person meeting of the board to address any issues without holding a public hearing or advertising for bids.
• voted 4-0 to approve a final change order for tuck pointing on the South Lee County Courthouse which resulted in a decrease in the final bill of approximately $4,000.
• voted 4-0 to approve the replacement of a part-time correctional officer who left the jail staff for a position in Henry County.