Friday, November 25, 2011

Spur Ranch Road Update #2

Dear Neighbor,

Four of the SRRA directors met this afternoon with Bob Sherwin, president of RoadPacker Southwest, to express our concern with the road condition, following the 0.15 inch rain that began in the early morning.


We were assured by Mr. Sherwin that he, too, is very concerned about the condition of the road, as is the corporate office of RoadPacker International, in Calgary. The CEO of RP International, Michael McDermott, is presently in Asia, overseeing a large project there, but is flying back to Santa Fe from Manila to study our situation and recommend corrective action. He is expected to arrive sometime within the next two weeks. The directors were assured that the condition of the road surface (this morning’s rain impacted roughly the top inch of the road) is very unusual, if not unprecedented. RoadPacker’s promotional literature asserts that the treatment results in “a water repellent, rock-hard, maintenance free surface for dirt roads,” and also that the product has been used “for over 23 years in 22 countries outside the U.S., to solve problems of dust, wash-boarding, never-ending maintenance, and mud associated with dirt and the deterioration of asphalt.” To illustrate his point, Mr. Sherwin showed us before-and-after photographs of an airport access road in Campeche, Mexico that had been completely submerged in a torrential downpour but which was fully drivable the next day. (I can email you the photos on request: file size is 5MB).


So what is causing the difficulty with our road? Mr. Sherwin believes there have been two problems: (1) in the initial treatment, the western part of the road (between Silver Saddle and the RR tracks) was too wet when it was compacted. Evidently, when this happens, the curing period is extended considerably. And (2) there were problems with the chemical properties of the hundreds of tons of clay which were brought in and added to the road material. Without getting overly technical, the clay was too alkaline, with a ph of 8.8, well outside the desirable range of 7-8. Also, it had a “Cation Exchange Capacity” that was far too low. (In the language most of us speak that means it wasn’t sticky enough.)


The ultimate fix for these problems won’t be known until after CEO McDermott and his technical staff analyze our situation. Mr. Sherwin, however, has assured us verbally and in writing that “we remain committed to making this the road that we all intended for you and your residents.”  This has obviously been a costly learning experience for him,  as well as a very trying experience for all of us. However, at this point the directors believe that the company genuinely wants to correct these problems, whatever it takes, and so we continue to call for patience from our community.  (Incidentally, the roadwork you may have observed this afternoon is just a temporary measure to restore the road’s drivability).


Please feel free to email or phone me or any of the directors if you have additional questions.










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