On Monday, a helicopter crashed in western Afghanistan killing 10 Americans and injuring 26 others. Thick dust that stirred up at takeoff inhibited the visibility of the crew, causing them to strike a tall structure in the area and crash.
Almost as recently, an article published in Special Operations Technology magazine discussed this subject and identified much progress that has been achieved. Now is the best time for parties within ERDC, the dust control industry, and manufacturers of helicopters and maintenance retrofitting of helicopters to develop the solution to eliminate the dangers of dust clouds. We have what is needed as a result of the work of ERDC and I am sure that we can come up with an effective and practical method of deploying what we have in tactical situations when needed. ERDC would seem to be the natural leader and coordinator for such development work.
I recently read an article in Public Works Online, originally printed in Hernando Today (part of the Tampa Tribune), which described the use Federal stimulus funds allocated to the county to repave roads. Members of the community with massive potholes near their property and poor road conditions were irate with the choice by the county to use these funds to repave roads that they consider to still be in good shape but needing “preventative maintenance.”
There are alternatives to paving for secondary unpaved roads that can deliver high quality roads at 20% of the cost of paved roads. Stabilization products are available that provide new levels of structural performance for silty sand / soil materials.
New road stabilization products can deliver results for residents that live on unpaved roads at a ratio of 3 to 5 miles of dust free, pothole free unpaved secondary roads per mile of paved road.
Given the limited availability of funds for road construction, the enormous demand for road repairs on unpaved residential roads, and maintenance for existing paved roads, this new road stabilization method can deliver great value for federal and taxpayer dollars.
Construction specifications for these stabilization materials can be widely employed with reasonable confidence in our experience. Below is a picture of an unpaved roadway using one of our soil stabilization products:
Stabilized Unpaved Residential Road