Jackson County Commissioners and the CED-7 (Circuit Engineering District) expect to see a big savings for county citizens now that they've begun using a special emulsion oil, “7-Oil” for their road projects. County workers began using the new road oil earlier this week in District 2, and on Wednesday, Aug. 13, sprayed oil and spread limestone chips in Blair, District 1.
The new latex-based oil, trademarked “7-Oil,” described as being pliable enough to contract, freeze, and expand again, has already proven to withstand the harsh conditions of Oklahoma's extreme hot and cold temperatures, and provide county roads a longer life expectancy of 12-13 years. That means using less oil, using less chips, losing less chips, and losing less tax dollars.
CED-7 Consultant, Jerry Dean, first used the oil when he was the Roger Mills County Commissioner about 15 years ago, however it was under patent. Dean, who is also a past President of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, stated that when the previous patent holder went out of business, he and CED-7 Executive Director Monte Goucher, decided to obtain the proprietary rights for processing the oil for the 11 counties under the CED-7 Trust Authority.
Goucher, who had come up with the idea to produce the oil through the CED-7 said, “Fifteen years later and we had still seen very good roads. Roads that were holding together. And we had a proven product. So when the opportunity came to gain the proprietary rights for this formula we jumped on the chance because it gives us an opportunity to save money and to be more efficient stewards of the the tax payers money.”
When it comes to saving tax dollars, Goucher began explaining the science behind the process, illustrating how magnetic forces hold the roads together much longer. In the emulsification process, 7-Oil obtains an anionic (negative) charge. When combined with the cationic (positively charged) limestone rock, the two compounds have a strong attraction. When using cationic oil and cationic chips, the two repel each other. As a result, the County has to use more oil, put down more rock, and repair roads more often.
“The problem with anionics is people do not know how to make it to where the viscosity is not too thick,” Goucher said. “We have a process that we now own the propriety rights where we can make it to where its very easy to ply, its very forgiving and works very well.”
The 7-Oil plant located in Clinton, which cost $2.5 million to build, opened up for full production this year, fusing oil and water together through a process of emulsification to obtain just the right viscosity. As a result the oil can be handled at a safer and lower temperature and be applied it to the roadway. When the water evaporates it leaves the residual oil on the ground for workers to lay limestone chips.
“I had shown Marty Clinton some roads, at least 14 years old that had very few cracks,” said Dean who had the foreknowledge of the emulsion oil. “The oil had lasted that long and was still a little bit pliable.” Dean said that on other roads where they had used different oil, there were already visible cracks along the road. “Once cracks appear, moisture eats away from the bottom to the top of the road,” Dean said. The oil protects the roads from erosion damage caused by moisture entering into the pavement through cracks that form with extreme temperature changes.
Jackson County District 1 Commissioner Marty Clinton commented, “The thing I'm excited about is the savings. Not only on our initial cost, but the longevity.” Counties had to go out and oil and chip their roads every five to seven years, Clinton explained.
“If this is going to last 10 to 12 years, it's going to allow us to do a lot more miles and get caught up on some projects,” Clinton said. “Cause we've got a lot of roads that need it, and there was no way we were going to be able to continue the way we were. They were just going to be deteriorating all the time. I think we will be able to get a lot of our roads improved over the next several years and be where we can maintain them.”
Clinton estimated that roads will now cost $10,000 per mile, realizing a savings of $2500-3000 per mile. “It doesn't take but four miles and you get to do a fifth mile on our savings,” he said.
Lastly, Goucher added that having the CED-7 provides the benefit of having multiple counties consolidate and combine themselves by pulling together and utilizing their resources. The CED-7 also works closely with County Commissioners by providing expertise on road engineering, bridge inspection, and other projects.
“That has given us the opportunity to own an emulsion plant and service 11 counties,” Goucher said. “When you can spread your cost over 11 counties, that makes for a good deal for everybody.”