Road construction costs can reach anywhere from $167,000 to $3.7 million per lane mile to fix a road. Minnesota has 117,914 miles of road that are asphalt, making maintenance costs add up fast.
Meet RePlay, an 88 percent soybean bio-based solution that gets applied to roads every 3-5 years, reduces construction time and road closures.
Manufactured by BioSpan Technologies Inc. in Missouri, RePlay has many benefits, according to its researchers.
It is applied to roads, with minimal road-closed time, and is environmentally friendly while keeping roads strong, safe and reducing maintenance costs, according to its supporters.
How RePlay works
Asphalt oxidizes over time and wears out roads due to traffic and oxygen in the air. Colder temperatures also contribute to cracking and potholes.
Roads are cleaned, holes are filled and lines are painted on the road before a spray truck applies the RePlay liquid. According to RePlay’s manufacturer, BioSpan Technologies Inc., the liquid penetrates the asphalt’s surface on average 0.75 to 1.25 inches deep, restoring the road surface and has been proven to reverse the oxidation process.
Otter Tail County Engineer Rick West said RePlay works best for fairly new roads.
Benefits of RePlay
Some may think, because RePlay is a liquid, it will have a tendency to become sticky in hot weather, but according to city officials in Hutchinson, a lead testing area, no reports of stickiness in hot weather have been reported.
RePlay has also been tested to prevent skid resistance and has no residual runoff or discharge after rain.
Roadways treated with RePlay absorb water 10 times less than roads that are untreated, resulting in less damaging effects water has on roadways.
Residual runoff and discharge are not present immediately after rain. Studies have found soy-based treatments reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
Because of RePlay’s ability to cure within 15 to 30 minutes after being applied roads have less closure time.
The soy-based treatment creates high speed water runoff and does not allow moisture into the surface.
Mike Youngerberg, senior director of field services at Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, said RePlay can extend the life of roads and save 30 percent on road budget costs.
According to Otter Tail County Highway Maintenance Supervisor Rick Hoium, many factors go into costs, such as the makeup of the road, number of years it has been since repavement and wear and tear.
“Areas have to see if it fits their situation,” Hoium said. “Officials may not allow the money to fund this new technology.”
The technology is still new with only a few test sites in Minnesota, he said.
According to Harold Stanislawski of Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Hutchinson is the longest test site of five years.
“We have gained 200 sites in the last five years,” Stanislawski said. “But it is still not mainstream.”
Road repair — fixing the entire network of roads — doesn’t happen overnight.
“Everybody wants the roads fixed now, but it takes time,” Youngerberg said. “We have clearly identifiable changes in Hutchinson.”
Youngerberg also stated Minnesota Soybean Growers Association has been working on providing a cost-benefit model, but it will take several months to analyze the data.
There are two forms of sealant that can be used, West said. A slightly cheaper and lighter sealant can be applied which costs anywhere from $1 to $1.15 per square yard, which equates to about $14,000 per mile.
West said RePlays cost is $1.52 per square yard that equals out to about $21,000 per mile.
Youngerberg said for every single lane mile it would take 100 bushels of soybeans for a RePlay application. If the entire state moved to soy-based treatments for roads it would take 12 million bushels of soybeans.
Testing in Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County has two locations as part of a pilot project. Otter Tail County Road 82 has a three-quarter mile section and County Road 1 has a half-mile section with RePlay applied.
On Thursday, a truck from Mountain Lake-based Bargen Inc. applied RePlay to County Road 82. The segment runs from Big Chief Restaurant to just past the first curve in the road on the way to Fergus Falls.
Hoium said RePlay and untreated strips will be side-by-side with signs marking the sections.
“RePlay is a step in the right direction in our 20-year transportation plan,” West said. “People want to fix the worst roads first. This preserves what you have.”
West added people have many tools in their toolboxes, and RePlay is another tool for technology and advancement.