Oil sands paving material studied

(Utah) — An oil sands study says the local resource may work as cheap and desirable paving material.
The Uintah Transportation and the Impact Mitigation Special Service Districts funded the study last year looking to quantify the useful value of oil sands on local roads.
Oil sands occur throughout the area from the Asphalt Ridge in Vernal to PR Springs in southern part of Uintah County.
A form of native bitumen, local oil sands have been used as a mix to pave roads for many years, “but, we’ve never had approval from the Utah Department of Transportation for the formula we use,” said incoming Impact Mitigation district president Paul Hacking.
Hacking said the study was run through the Energy Dynamics Lab of Utah State University and the Bingham Research Center.
The lab contracted with Kimball L. Young Marketing Consultants to do much of the research.
“The goals of the study were three: including identifying oil sands located worldwide, developing the specifications for UDOT compliant application and conducting a pavement condition assessment of the county roads,” he said.
A number of core holes were drilled on the Bonanza Highway in areas where local oil sands and non-local materials were used as pavement.
The local oil mix held up well explained Hacking saying its ability to expand and contract with conditions give it a somewhat self-healing property.
UDOT also wants a second phase of the study in which some 1,000 ton of local material will pave three miles of the Fidlar Road.
Fifteen miles south of Vernal deep in the natural gas fields, Fidlar Road is prime location to test traffic loads and weathering of the local oil mix.
“We’d really like to see this resource opened up, perhaps to be used on the Seep Ridge,” said Hacking, referring to the proposed 45-mile paving project.
The transportation district will pay about $50,000 to establish the study area on Fidlar Road.
Vacationing transportation district director Cheri McCurdy was unavailable for comment at press time.
However, the research application of the road material will begin in July when McCurdy will provide further details.
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