A MACHINE that can tear up a road and crush the material into a sub-base in situ is set to slash the cost and disruption of concrete road repairs, according to the team that has just trialled it in Essex.
May Gurney and Essex County Council have managed to cut the time and money spent refurbishing the Weeley Bypass by using the American-built Badger MHB rubbliser in place of conventional crack-and-seat techniques.The machine had been used on airport runways but never on a British road.
Adrian Croot, May Gurney's general manager for the Essex Highways Maintenance contract, said 'We realised the machine would provide the answer to specific problems for us.When we heard about the technique it sounded almost too good to be true, so we chose to use the bypass as a live trial.
'We wanted to minimise the disruption to the residents whose houses back onto the project, which meant that time was a factor.With the Badger we processed 5,700 sq m of slab in two days. It would take us two and a half weeks working in the usual way.'
The method was so quick that the machine was slowed down so guests invited to see the trial on the third day had something left to watch.
The contractors said they were surprised at the cost savings.Mr Croot said: 'We worked out that we saved about £100,000 through the time-saving and not having to cart it away.'
The machine, hired in with an operator from specialist subbie Antigo Breakers, also has environmental benefits, slashing the truck movements that would be required to send the broken-up road away for crushing and then returning with the aggregate.
Mr Croot said: 'We worked out that the conventional route would require about 200 vehicle movements.
You've got the primary aggregate sitting there and it has usually been good for 20-30 years, so why take it all away?'
Antigo's managing director Richard Withers said the rubblising technique offered great potential.He added:
'It has been used in the US for roads for about eight years but it has taken time to convince the British maintenance sector.
'There are a lot of concrete roads that will need attention and it offers enormous advantages over conventional methods, particularly when you consider the environmental benefits and the savings.'