FW contractor defends asphalt, INDOT sends ultimatum

The three mile stretch of S.R. 25 near Logansport was poured three years ago and has visible signs of cracks and potholes. (Courtesy: INDOT)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Indiana Department of Transportation accused a local contractor of using faulty asphalt on a highway project near Logansport.

In a letter sent Friday to Brooks Construction, INDOT’s Deputy Commissioner Robert Tally demanded the company either remove and replace the pavement used on the three mile stretch of State Road 25 or pay INDOT the cost of that pavement, $5.1 million. Tally said in part, “With this road deteriorating at an alarming rate and with winter approaching, INDOT must move to resolution of this matter.”

Cracks and potholes are visible throughout the stretch of Hoosier Heartland Highway that was completed in 2012, a result of poor mix design, believes INDOT.

“It aged three years after opening to traffic. Typically, an entire new road like this should last 20 years with the right maintenance,” said Will Wingfield, spokesperson for INDOT.

 

According to INDOT, two primary ingredients are used in pavement: stone aggregate and asphalt binder.

“What we’re looking at is the amount of glue that’s in the material and whether or not there’s enough. It’s influenced by the absorption of the stone and the amount of air that’s trapped during the paving process,” said Wingfield.

Contractors are required to submit the mix design for each project, similar to a recipe with the properties and proportions of the different materials. Hot-mix asphalt must be placed and compacted in a short timeframe before it cools, so INDOT performs tests both before and after paving. INDOT tests the stone at each quarry and the asphalt binder from each supplier. Each asphalt production plant is certified. INDOT performs a variety of tests after paving to evaluate binder amount, aggregate size, pavement thickness and the amount of air trapped during paving.

“The materials that Brooks Construction committed to provide on this contract in their mixed designs were not the materials that were provided on site.”

John Brooks, Executive Vice President of Brooks Construction issued the following statement:

“For more than 105 years, our family owned business has taken tremendous pride in both customer service and the quality of our work. During this project, INDOT conducted 72 tests on our asphalt mix and all were approved. We complied with all INDOT specifications at the time of the construction.”

Wingfield said INDOT has worked with Brooks Construction in the past and hasn’t had any issues. INDOT has tested the pavement for 667 projects and is in the process of testing 187 more, a process that is expected to take several months. Brooks Construction is among 44 contractors.

“We drop a defined weight onto the pavement and measure how it springs back. That’ll tell us if the pavement is going to age prematurely and if so, when. So, once we complete that testing for each contract, we’ll work with our primary contractor to try to resolve this issue, if we do find a problem,” said Wingfield.

Brooks Construction has until the end of Friday’s business day to respond to INDOT’s letter.

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