WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Winter weather – even mild ones – can take a heavy toll on roadways.
This can pose a big challenge to the 88th Civil Engineer Group teams responsible for maintaining the 120 miles of base roads on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“Our road sealing preventative maintenance program is critical to extending pavement life. If cracks in the pavement are not addressed, they continue to increase in size and depth until they reach the road base material underneath the asphalt,” said Anthony King, Area A Pavement Maintenance Section chief. “Once water penetrates to the base rock it can then freeze and thaw, causing the road to develop potholes and premature failure of the entire lane of asphalt.”
Water is kept out by sealing cracks in the roadway. The team starts work in April and moves systematically across base.
“Of course, with everything we do, weather plays a big part, King said, who works closely with his Area B counterpart, Les Pierson. “We cannot seal the cracks in the road if there is moisture present from rain and sometimes it takes several days after the rain stops for the cracks to dry enough for us to seal them.”
In addition to the recurring maintenance, the team is also challenged by Wright-Patt’s aging infrastructure, in particular the many deteriorated storm drain inlets on base.
“We have identified a group of broken storm drains. There will be construction cones or barricades blocking that portion of the travel lane for seven to 10 days until we complete the repairs,” said King.
Typically, unless substantial digging is required, the team avoids closing roads if at all possible to lessen any mission impact.
“The dedication of the Pavements and Equipment team in keeping this from happening more frequently keeps our roads in the best shape possible and prevents vehicle damage and more costly large scale repairs. And those funds can be used elsewhere in facilities throughout WPAFB,” said King.