Tar incident: TxDOT report sheds light on “severe failure of the Lufkin project”

VIDEO: TxDOT report sheds light on “severe failure of the Lufkin project”

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Texas Department of Transportation has released a new report.

Its the initial findings since the days after tar melted on Lufkin’s South Loop 287 back in August 2017.

The 44-page document sheds light on the studies conducted as the department works to get to the root cause of the problem.

“It had been cool and rainy and then the sun had come out,” recalls Valerie Binning, a small business owner of Yarnia in Nacogdoches.

Binning remembers it like it was yesterday.

“So it had got to this perfect temperature, whatever that was that made the new tar and gravel start melting,” Binning said.

That melted tar then got on her tires as she drove on the South Loop 287. But she’s not the only one. Many people faced a similar situation.

Based on TxDOT’s findings, multiple factors came into play for the severe failure of the Loop 287 project.

First, poor adhesion may have been caused by a layer of clay found coated on the loose gravel or aggregate.

Second, the report says heavy rain after the installation may have amplified the problem to a larger scale causing some of the aggregate to let loose.

Third, the asphalt binder used on the Lufkin project may have been softer than the specifications limit at the time of the application. The report says this may have added to tar being picked up on tires once the aggregate or gravel was lost from the seal coat.

Additionally, the report says at the time of construction the asphalt could have been too soft due to the fluctuating temperature. And although TxDOT’s study was not able to reach an absolute determination related to the root cause of the problem, they say it clearly raises doubt that the materials applied in the Lufkin project met TxDOT specifications.

“I think for someone to take responsibility and say we did this wrong, right now one’s owning it, someone needs to,” Binning said.

TxDOT did admit that directing drivers to their website to file a complaint may have caused misunderstandings. TxDOT says they did not make it clear that state law does not allow using state funds on property damages that happen on state highway road.

TxDOT has implemented changes for future projects. One of those includes stopping seal coat operations on hurricane evacuation routes prior to any possible identified weather threats.

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