Team effort

Cass County, Minn., engineer David Enblom has approximately 377 miles of gravel roads to maintain. Cass County is like many other rural counties in the U.S. that are facing higher costs for maintenance of these roads. From grading to the availability of good aggregate materials, maintenance costs continue to rise.

One product the county uses is Base One , which is developed and manufactured by Team Laboratory Chemical Corp. in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Enblom said the product stabilizes gravel surfaces and strengthens gravel road bases. This effectively enhances the efficiency and performance of the aggregate used in surfacing and base applications.

“The results have been outstanding,” Enblom said.

A case in point: In 1999, the county applied Base One on a 1-mile section of County No. 103. It was applied to 3 in. of new gravel surfacing material, and since then, it has not been necessary to re-gravel this section of road.

Typically, similar roads would have been re-graveled twice to ensure an adequate gravel-wearing surface. These savings have been approximately $8,000 per cycle, or a total savings of $16,000. This is in addition to the reduced grading costs associated with a stabilized aggregate surface.

Another area of success with the product is the addition of it under thin oil/aggregate (chip seal) surfaces, Enblom said. The added stability to the base course aggregates provides for a stable platform for applying thin surface coats. This added stability has also shown promise to extend the life of these surfaces, Enblom added.

Cass County has used Base One on approximately 30 miles of gravel roads, with additional projects scheduled every year. Enblom said the successes using the product will ensure that it will be part of the county’s maintenance toolbox for some time to come.