FORT WORTH - A little truck creeping down Bonnie Brae Avenue might not look too special. But then, it sticks out its mechanical arm with a nozzle attached to the end.
It blasts a pothole clean, like a giant leaf blower, then sprays it full with a tacky aggregate mixture. The machine moves from pothole to pothole, blowing and spitting, sometimes spending no more than 20 seconds on a patch.
Meet the new king of the asphalt jungle. It's the RA 400 VORTEC automated patcher.
"I believe it's the only model in North Texas," said Fort Worth street superintendent Stan Phillips. "We're pleased to have it."
Fort Worth tested one back in 2010. Phillips said the patches are still holding. That's a lot stronger than temporary patches laid down by traditional two or three person crews, who are sometimes shoveling 300-degree mix in 110-degree heat.
The automated patcher requires just one, air-conditioned operator, working a joystick.
"Right now, they're getting about a thousand potholes a week with this machine right here," Phillips said.
Because of all the recent rain, Phillips expects close to 200,000 potholes on Fort Worth roads this year.
The machine cost about $190,000, but Phillips said if it frees up workers for other jobs, and reduces vehicle damage caused by potholes, "It will pretty much pay for itself."
Right now it's the only one. But after just five weeks on the streets, Stan Phillips is so pleased that he'd like to buy more - if not for that pesky $45 million budget pothole.