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speeding up road building

The MicroLance in Western Australia

Cutting-edge technology from Hydramotion is playing a vital part in the laying of basecourse materials for a 90-kilometre stretch of sealed, high-standard road in Western Australia, linking the mining town of Karratha to the heart of the Millstream Chichester National Park.

The MicroLance hand-held moisture meter is being used to measure the moisture content of materials in the field, avoiding the need for time-consuming laboratory work.

portable hand-held moisture meter in road buildingGeotechnical Team Leader Geoff Cocks said that as far as he knew it was the first time the technology has been used in road construction in Western Australia.

“It’s a big plus, because the moisture level has to be correct to ensure the efficient compaction of the road base, “ Geoff commented.  “Our on-site laboratory would normally take 24 hours to turn around the samples, but this device allows us to do that on the run someasuring moisture of base course materials we can adjust the water being added by our stabilising machine and get on with the job.”

Known as Stage 2 of the Karratha-Tom Price Road Project, the road will halve the journey time, greatly encouraging tourism in the National Park.  Construction began in June 2006 and is due to be completed in May 2008.

The supply of base course materials presented a significant challenge for the project.  Lateritic gravel had to be brought in from an area about 20 kilometres south of the project (outside the National Park), crushed rock had to be bought from a Karratha quarry and a crusher established at the Karratha end.  Difficulties in breaking up large boulders, some the size of a small car, have also tested the team.  The solution has been to loosen the boulders through blasting before placing or stockpiling them in an environmentally sensitive manner.  The MicroLance has greatly speeded up the checking of moisture levels in all these materials.