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Test results indicate smoother roadway

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been a long and bumpy ride for island motorists and Public Works that has been trying to find the right asphalt mixture that met federal specifications. Test results are showing promising signs that these projects may soon be completed.

DPW has stated for some time that the million-dollar question looming over the completion of several of the island's road projects is ensuring the friction course materials, that are used for the top layer on the island's major thoroughfares, meet federal specs. In the next few days, Hawaiian Rock Products, one of two companies on Guam that are working on the mix, will test a formula they developed that may be the solution.

President Jerrold Johnson told KUAM News, "So about two months ago, they allowed us on  both mixes- the lower level mix and the dense grade mix to provide our own gradation which means the grading of the rocks and come up with a mix as long as it met the right properties." On Tuesday, Hawaiian Rock will place a test strip made of local aggregates or a binder mix on Route 17 - putting down 500 tons and doing more testing.

DPW director Joanne Brown meanwhile says she's been keeping track of the road projects on Guam - namely the friction course needed to provide a smooth riding surface for motorists. "We're hopeful that that will meet the requirements and we'll be able to move on because once this issue is addressed that has tremendous positive implications on current construction projects that have been on hold," she said.

While federal specs have been in place for some time, only recently did DPW have the capability to test the material and when it did, they discovered the material being provided didn't meet federal standards and wasn't what the government was paying for.

Brown says ensuring the quality of our roads is the best investment for its future use, explaining, "So more the reason why we have to assure quality because the amount of money that goes into the road construction is substantial and these are not areas that we're not going to be working on in the near future. So the road has got to last for 20+ years."

Johnson meanwhile says it's been quite a challenge testing the material to meet federal specs. He noted, "It's like making a cake, you put all the different ingredients and if it doesn't taste good, you have to try different ingredients until you get the right taste and that's kind of how the way it is making asphalt."

The company expects final test results on the dense grade friction course, what most roads are in need of, by tomorrow to submit to DPW for approval. Close to ten road projects will need the mixture for completion. 

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