South Dakota’s Department of Transportation is the first in the U.S. to employ a new road treatment in hopes of reducing road-departure crashes on winding highway curves. According to the Rapid City Journal, the process, known as High Friction Surface Treatment, increases traction by bonding a calcined bauxite aggregate to the asphalt with an epoxy.
Highway safety engineer Andy Vadel estimates the cost of treating curves to be approximately $150,000 per curve, with 15 Black Hills locations receiving the treatment last year. The DOT plans to treat other locations throughout South Dakota in coming years.
This project was the first in the U.S. to demonstrate how this new technology can reduce crashes due to winter road conditions. The 15 Black Hills sites averaged 21 crashes due to winter conditions annually in the five years preceding the application of the treatment, which was reduced to a total of one crash during the winter following the application. South Dakota Highway Patrol officials have noticed a decrease in winter accidents where the treatment has been applied.
Areas treated include curves on U.S. Highway 14A in Boulder Canyon and sections of Interstate 90 near Tilford, U.S. Highway 16, and U.S. Highway 85.
South Dakota’s DOT has also been selected as a finalist in the 2018 America’s Transportation Awards, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, due to this High Friction Surface Treatment project. Grand Prize and People’s Choice winners will each receive $10,000 from AASHTO for donation to their choice of nonprofit or transportation-related scholarship. Vote for the South Dakota Department of Transportation here.
Read more about public safety in the Black Hills on the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archive.