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Chemists are testing a rubbery new solution for fixing L.A.'s potholes

Brittany Martin

If you’ve ever felt the thud of your tire dipping into a pothole on an L.A. street, you’re definitely not alone. Roadways across the county are so bad that the Department of Public Works has essentially written off almost 20 percent of city blocks as too costly to repair in a given year. Now, to address that, they’ve launched an experiment to use a brand-new compound that has never been tried before.

The asphalt filler was created by chemists at the Carlsbad-based PMI (who have also kicked in the cash for the test—since we know the city doesn’t have a penny to spare—which may possibly bias the results) out of a blend of rocks, oil, recycled tires, flexible polymers and asphalt. PMI currently makes the resurfacing blend that L.A. uses for minor damage, and representatives from the city worked alongside the company’s scientists to try to solve the challenge of quickly and cheaply addressing more major issues.

For starters, the rubbery goo has been used to refinish a single block of Community Street in Northridge, SCPR reports. A heavy roller machine smushes the goo into any holes or crevices and spreads it out smooth across the top. In theory, it’s built to hold for a decade, buying the Bureau of Street Services time to come back through for a more serious retrofit.

Officials will be monitoring how the block performs over the coming months to see if the new compound lives up to expectations. If it does, it could enter the tool kit of repair crews citywide by next year.

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