(IRON MOUNTAIN, MI.)–At a recent meeting of the Dickinson County Road Commission, the Board awarded a contract for paving Breitung Cut-off road to Bacco Construction. On the surface, this is standard procedure for a Road Commission. However, this project is one of the more unique paving projects in the region. The Breitung Cut-off project is a mill & fill from Woodbine Street east through Hydraulic Falls Road – Powder Lake Road intersection. Approximately 1.5 inches of the existing pavement will be cold milled off, and then replaced with new asphalt. However, what makes this different is the new asphalt will be fiber reinforced. This means Aramid fibers will be mixed in the asphalt at the plant. Aramid fiber is a carbon based fiber similar to the lightweight fibers used in protective chainsaw chaps. Chemically, it is similar to Kevlar used in bullet proof vests.
A spokesman for the Road commission said that Breitung Cut-off Road sees some the highest traffic volumes in the county and it needs repairs. We don’t want to close the road, and we wanted a quick construction with minimal disruption to public. A mill & fill project was chosen as these are relatively quick projects, however they typically only have a 3-5 year life. So we started looking at better asphalts which may last longer. We found fiber modified asphalt using aramid fibers and it seems to be a perfect fit.
Projects in other states have shown the advantages of aramid fibers improve asphalt performance in several unique ways against the anticipated major pavement distresses: permanent deformation, fatigue cracking, reflective cracking, and thermal cracking. Studies have also shown fiber reinforced asphalt has a 35-50% strength increase when compared to traditional hot mix asphalt.
The spokesman continued, with the reduction in cracking and improved strength, we are expecting for a longer lasting road requiring less maintenance than a traditional mill & fill. We are not aware of any other projects in the UP using aramid fiber in asphalt.
Construction on this project is expected mid-September. The road will not be closed, but one lane will be open in both directions the majority of the work. However, there will be times when the contractor is working on either the east end or the west end when sections of the road will be down to 1 lane under flag control.