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Genesee County Road Commission testing new product to limit potholes and dust

Permazyne helps bind material on dirt roads to keep them smooth for drivers
The Genesee County Road Commission
The Genesee County Road Commission(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Potholes and dust are common around Mid-Michigan this time of year.

They’re not good for drivers or cars. But the Genesee County Road Commission is hoping a new material they’re testing will keep potholes from forming and let the dust settle.

It’s called Permazyme, which is essentially a bonding agent that helps to solidify loose gravel. Carpenter Road between M-13 and Duffield Road in Flushing Township has been treated with it as of last month. There were no potholes or dust on Friday.

Genesee County has 395 miles of roadway that are unpaved. The road commission hopes Permazyme could potentially mean less grading of roads and less calcium chloride used for dust control.

“Permazyme is a subgrade soil stabilizer material. And what it does is it’s an enzyme, an organic material,” said Eric Johnston, the Genesee County Road Commission engineering director. “The effect that it has on the soil is it takes the fine particles and the soil and bonds them all together.”

Think of it a type of glue or cement that’s meant for limestone or gravel roads. And it’s environmentally safe

The Genesee County Road Commission says permazyme could be a game changer in how it cares for dirt roads -- both for potholes and dust.

Right now, county and township roads are treated three times a year. The road commission pays for the first treatment, townships pay for the second and they split the cost for the third.

If permazyme works the way it should, which is too early to tell, one treatment could last several years.

“If we were to try to apply calcium chloride three times a year, we’re looking at $5,000 to $6,000 on a mile of gravel roadway,” Johnston said.

A one mile treatment of permazyme also costs $6,000. But it wouldn’t be applied nearly as often, which means the road commission and ultimately taxpayers save some money.

The road commission is just testing the material on Carpenter Road to see how long it lasts. Depending on how well it holds up in the coming months and year, other townships will have a better gauge of whether they’d like to explore using the material on dirt roads.

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