City testing new pothole filler in Fondren

By ANTHONY WARREN,

A Northside street has been chosen for a trial run of sorts for a new material the city of Jackson could consider using for street repairs.

Recently, a press conference was held to announce the city was looking into a new product to fill potholes and it had chosen a residential street in Fondren to conduct the tests.

The material was used to patch potholes along Northview Drive, between Downing and Ridgeway streets.

Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF) Executive Director Jim Wilkirson didn’t know why the area was chosen, but was happy the Fondren community was being included in the testing process.

“They’ve (the city) never looked at the product before and they’re hoping that it will be compatible,” he said. “It’s not been offered to any other city yet.”

The product, known as PMCO, a polymer composite, was developed by PolyCon International LLC, in Madison, and is designed for “micro-overlays,” such as pothole repairs.

Wilkirson, who was at the press conference, said developers touted several benefits of the material. “It’s not temperature-related. It can be put down any month of the year,” he recalled. “It dries extremely quick, in about 20 minutes.”

Crews demonstrated the product, which could be put down without the use of heavy equipment, like a tamping device. “It’s a pourable product. A shovel or spade can smooth over the top,” he said. “It could be a great game-changer.”

Requiring fewer workers and equipment to fill potholes could make the product more attractive for the city, especially as it grapples with a shrinking public works department.  Between fiscal years 2015 and 2016, the department lost some 240 staffers, including many road, water and sewer workers.

The material is supposed to last up to 10 years.

 

Compared, the lifespan of traditional pothole repairs varies, based on a number of factors, including the condition of roadways, traffic, weather and the quality of the patching work.

Asphalt also is temperature-sensitive, with experts not recommending not pouring when temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was unclear if or when Jackson would use the product, or how it would evaluate the product’s success.

Like the PolyCon product, asphalt also dries relatively quickly. Once it’s poured and tamped down, newly patched areas are typically OK to drive on. In some cases, city crews fill potholes and allow vehicles driving over them to better pack the materials. 

PolyCon President/CEO Jack Wilson told those at the press conference that if the city purchased the materials, his firm would provide the equipment needed to install it.

Jackson and PolyCon officials couldn’t be reached for comment.