A spray that acts like glue is extending road life and reducing construction gridlock
A material that acts like glue to reinforce and extend the life of asphalt roads by five or more years was on display this month in southern Lake County.
And it has or will be elsewhere, too. Using pavement rejuvenators is becoming a popular part of road maintenance programs to stretch limited budgets. And the rejuvenator process is much quicker than methods like grinding and repaving, making it easier on drivers.
Rejuvenator was applied Wednesday to Buffalo Grove Road between Route 22 and Deerfield Road and on Thursday to a portion of Aptakisic Road, to wrap up Lake County's 2022 pavement rejuvenator program. The $695,470 project covered 22 miles at 18 locations throughout the county.
The maltene-based petroleum product is sprayed on and acts like glue as it is absorbed to create a tighter road surface. The material limits the number of rocks chipping off, slows oxidation and reduces damage from freeze-thaw cycles by preventing water from sitting in cracks, according to the Lake County Division of Transportation.
Maltene is used in the asphalt binding process and is needed to make surfaces durable and flexible. But it depletes over time.
The rejuvenator substance, known as Reclamite, "penetrates, rejuvenates and seals the surface" by replenishing the lost maltene in the asphalt binder, according to Corrective Asphalt Materials, a supplier in nine states from Minnesota to Louisiana.
Pavement rejuvenator penetrates deeper and more widely than a seal coating used on your driveway, aid Alex Carr, LCDOT spokesman.
"This 'reunites the pavement' while also protecting the top layer," he said. Seal coating adds a protective layer on top of the pavement to fill cracks, he said, but it doesn't have the same properties or protective qualities as the maltene-based product.
The overall application process generally takes a few hours. One lane at a time is closed for about 30 minutes with flaggers moving traffic.
After the product is sprayed, a sandlike material is spread to prevent liquid from getting on vehicles while it soaks in and the road is opened to traffic. The material is swept up the next day.
Reclamite has provided flexibility and durability, said Christopher Grask, public information officer for the McHenry County Division of Transportation, which has used the rejuvenator since 2015.
"We have found it staves off oxidation and preserves the life of the road," Grask said. Later this summer, it will be applied to about 6 miles of shoulders along Algonquin Road.
LCDOT first employed the road rejuvenation method in 2018, and it's become part of the annual road maintenance program. Applying rejuvenator to relatively newly paved roads can help save money in the long run by not having to resurface or replace them for a longer period of time, Carr said.
"More municipalities have been using it to preserve their roads," said James Bernahl, village engineer in Winnetka. "It's a more economical way to preserve your roadways to get more life out of them."
Bernahl held a similar position in St. Charles when he became aware of the process.
"We got a proposal and said, 'Let's try it,' " he recalled. "We found it enhanced the useful life of the roads."
Bernahl brought the idea to Winnetka, where it's been used for about five years. The village heads the pavement rejuvenation program for the Municipal Partnership Initiative, a collaboration among communities.
"It's taken off. More and more communities are using it," Bernahl said.
Vernon Hills began participating with Winnetka's collaboration last year, but it instituted a rejuvenation program in 2016. This year's program targeted segments of 13 roads at a cost of $56,712.
Arlington Heights has included maltene-based rejuvenator in its road program since 2017, said Aldair Vargas, a village engineer that runs the annual pavement treatment program.
"The experience overall has been good, and we have seen evidence of the effectiveness of the pavement rejuvenator," he said. Treated streets have deteriorated more slowly than untreated streets, making it a cost-effective measure, he said.
Arlington Heights, Lake County, the Winnetka consortium and others contract with Corrective Asphalt Materials LLC of South Roxana, Illinois.
Bernahl said the quick application is another benefit of road rejuvenator.
"You get the benefit of adding useful life but not causing major impact for residents," he said.