FORT RUCKER, Ala. – The Fort Rucker Commissary parking lot received a new seal coating and fresh paint to clearly mark parking spaces in an effort to improve safety and visibility, and also extend its life using a technique only used a few other times on Fort Rucker.
“In the past, Fort Rucker has used coal tar sealer, or repaved with asphalt on top of the existing parking lot asphalt,” explained Trevor Marshall, Directorate of Public Works civil engineer. “The product we used is a polymer- and fiber-reinforced asphalt emulsion sealer.”
This type of sealer has been used on Fort Rucker for a couple years, including being applied to the parking lots at Lyster Army Health Clinic and five other buildings, he said.
Previously, coal tar sealer has been the industry standard for seal coats, but the use of coal tar is not environmentally friendly and poses health risks to the installer, Marshall said.
“The additions of polymers to the asphalt emulsion have improved the flexibility of the sealer, and the addition of fibers improve the durability and toughness,” he added. “Also, since the asphalt emulsion is chemically the same as asphalt, it expands and contracts in the same manner as the pavement, reducing cracking in the seal coat. Coal tar is more susceptible to thermoplastic-induced cracking.
“It is a more economical approach to seal coat than to repave,” Marshall said. “The seal coat surface also provides contrast to the parking lot striping, allowing paint to be more visible.”
When the parking lot was initially constructed, it had 90-degree parking stripes in all parking lanes, said Tim Lovell, DPW contracting officer’s representative. “This unfortunately resulted in safety issues.”
The stripes were repainted diagonally to fix the safety issues, but over time the old lines became visible again, causing confusion. “On any given day, you could drive by and observe the commissary shoppers parked at both 90 and 45 degrees in each row throughout the lot, causing further safety issues,” Lovell said.
These issues were resolved by applying the seal coat to the surface of the lot and restriping it all diagonally – except for the outer edges of the lot, which remain 90-degree parking, he said.
“In order to prevent the possibility of the old 90-degree lines from flashing through the seal coat, our DPW engineer required the contractor to mechanically grind off all the 90-degree paint stripes before applying the seal coating,” Lovell said.
Work on the lot was done in phases, as well, to limit the amount of inconvenience customers experienced when patronizing the store, he added. “The lot looks nearly brand new, it should last for several years and all the parking issues should be resolved.”