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FIRM DENIES LIABILITY IN `EXPERIMENT’ WITH ROADS

SHARE FIRM DENIES LIABILITY IN `EXPERIMENT’ WITH ROADS

Ironically, it's because the untested Syn-crete that has been buckling on I-15 was an experiment, instead of a proven product, that taxpayers will pick up the entire bill for repairs - and for a new road surface if one is required.

"This is the first time in the world that this procedure with our Syn-crete product has been tested. That's why it's classified as experimental," said Owen Hogle, vice president of Hodson Chemical Construction Corp."If this procedure becomes accepted and next year UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) says, `We will prepare our roads using Syn-crete' - then we as the manufacturer of the material become liable for problems. Under an `experimental' project, no. We're not liable."

So far, the cost of repairs on I-15 between 5900 and 3300 South has totaled $100,000. That cost is in addition to the $1.5 million already invested in the controversial project, in which a new and experimental concrete mixture was laid over the deteriorating surface of Utah's busiest stretch of freeway.

Workmen have stopped patching areas that are cracking and have not bonded, taking a wait-and-see posture, UDOT spokesman Kim Morris told the Deseret News Friday.

At least 20 percent of the Syn-crete has failed, according to UDOT estimates. Hodson Chemical, however, estimates failure at 8 percent.

Hogle expects to hold a press conference early next week with UDOT to clarify discrepancies in reported failures of Syn-crete.

Morris reports, "Every few days, workmen clean up areas that have come loose. We're not patching until we know what the final solution will be."

Instead of patching problem areas, workmen are grinding the thin overlay surface down to the original surface. Cold weather will provide the acid test of the product's durability and determine if UDOT will rip all of the Syn-crete off I-15.

Claiming an 85 to 90 percent success rate, Hogle asserts that even jackhammers have not been able to loosen the bonded Syn-crete from the surface.

"With the success Syn-crete displays here, it's our feeling we can correct the problems quite simply. Right now, this procedure (thin overlay concrete bonded to existing road) is the cheapest way to repair deteriorating roads," said Hogle.

Hodson Chemical engineers have determined that a major cause of the problems with their chemical mix lies in the location that Syn-crete is mixed.

Gravel trucks mixed the chemical at a location several miles from the highway site. Because of heavy traffic, some truckloads were delayed in getting to I-15 with the synthetic concrete.

There were 97 loads of Syn-crete used to resurface I-15. "It's not like painting a house with one gallon of paint. There are many variables and five private companies involved in this project," said Hogle.

UDOT remains baffled as to what has caused the problems. However, they have determined that the Syn-crete chemical mixture supplied by Hodson "met requirements," said Morris.

When UDOT decided to approve Syn-crete, which had been tested on small sample strips over a three-year period, it was with the clear understanding that the state was financing an experiment, said Morris.