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FORT WORTH - High-tech relief could be on the way for drivers dodging potholes in Fort Worth, and for the crews who fill them.

City Council was expected to vote Tuesday night to buy an automated pothole spray patcher called the RA 400 VORTEC, made by LeeBoy in North Carolina.

A demonstration video in Chicago shows how the RA400 cleans out the crater with a blast of air, then fills it with asphalt and aggregate. And it takes only a minute.

Sometimes a little less than a minute.

It was awesome, said field operations supervisor Joey Howery.

He's patched a lifetime of potholes the old-fashioned way, and a few test holes with the spray patcher.

[You control it] with a joystick, he said. Like playing games at home.

The driver sits in the cab of the truck, controlling a boom that extends out in front. The operator lowers the boom and delivers the patch. The RA400 requires only one person to patch a pothole, instead of 3 or 4.

It's safer for that worker because he stays inside the vehicle.

It doesn't stop as much traffic, and best of all for drivers and taxpayers:

It is a permanent repair with this machine, Howery said. We won't have to go back out there and fix it.

Fort Worth will be the first city in Texas to buy the RA400, which is considered far superior to the old RA300's Houston got a few years ago.

The manufacturer says Fort Worth got a good price at $189,000. That doesn't include a sunroof, but it is air conditioned.

It does have a cup holder, Howery said. Gotta keep that soda.

Fort Worth is expected to take delivery in about 60 days. City officials hope it will fill 200-300 holes a day.

However, officials also say there are about 100,000 potholes out there.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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