During the first meeting of the Mason County Commissioners' Court for 2014, the group heard from a representative of PennzSuppress, an Austin company that was conducting a road test the next day on McCulloch County Road 216 (the northern end of what begins in Mason County as Old Voca Road).
The reason that particular road was chosen for testing is that it handles a large volume of traffic from sand trucks traveling to and from three different plant sites in the Voca area. McCulloch County has had ongoing problems with the road developing potholes, eroding at the roadsides, creating large amounts of dust and just generally being very rough to travel for all vehicular traffic. The sand companies have worked with the county to seek solutions, and this test is the latest effort to find a long lasting method of maintaining the roads.
The treatment method involves preparing the road to a "pavement ready" state, eliminating all washboards, ruts and other rough spots. A water truck is then employed to cover the prepared road area with a solution of water and PennzSuppress that permeates the soil and begins a chemical reaction with the small particulate matter in the soil. A second application of the solution is applied a short time later. The road is able to handle vehicle traffic almost immediately, lessening the need for annoying road closures. The treatment does not require ripping the soil or following up treatment with a roller, which also lessens the amount of time that traffic is inconvenienced.
The Mason County Commissioners were invited to observe the treatment of the McCulloch County road on January 14. Additionally, the company representative suggested that the Mason Road Department might want to have their own test on a stretch of road since all types of materials react differently to the treatment solution. The McCulloch County road is primarily caliche while most Mason County roads have a high granite gravel or sand composition.
According to the company representative, once the solution has been applied to the road, the top few inches of the road material bonds together into a material almost as tough as asphalt. With the entire road surface, and the roadsides leading to the ditches, coated with the material, erosion would be reduced, as would washboarding, dust creation and normal road erosion.
The Mason County Commissioners will work with the Road Department and Road Supervisor, Squeaky Farmer, to decide whether to move ahead with their own road test prior to making any commitment to use of PennzSuppress.