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Could a magnet be a solution for road repairs in Michigan?

Michigan company unveils product to help road crews
Posted at 6:23 AM, Apr 02, 2019

LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Livonia-based company believes that magnets could be the solution to speeding up pothole repairs.

The magnets don’t fill the roads beat down by Michigan winter, but they do keep road crews on the road longer, according to Storch Magnetics President and CEO Matt Carr.

Carr learned through research that road crews had an increasing problem of blown tires that sidelined workers that were tasked with filling potholes.

Trucks typically ride the side of roads where scrap metal and various items that can puncture accumulate after plows clear roads throughout the winter — Storch Magnetics came up with a product that can be attached to trucks that picks up that debris keeping repairs to a minimum.

“Every hour they’re not at a repair facility, or back at the garage, they’re out there filling our potholes,” said Carr.

It seems simple, but at a time when Michigan is debating complicated funding plans to fix the roads — simple may be a relief. The product, called the SuperMag, is already being utilized in Jackson and Washtenaw counties. It’s also being used in parts of New Jersey, Iowa and Maryland.

“The magnet is powerful and our foreman reports a significant reduction in blown tires from nails, screw and other sharp pieces of metal,” said James Harmon, the director of operations at the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

Harmon tells 7 Action News that they’re using their unit for cash cleanup, roadside maintenance and on a platoon of vehicles that serves as a lead car when multiple vehicles are driving in an area where tires could be blown.

Locals said they’d appreciate the use of the tech just to keep their personal cars from having blown tires. It’s not a surprising sentiment given that 220 million flat tires happen every year, according to AAA. With road repairs becoming a bigger and bigger issue, any type of relief is good news.

“Anything that’s going to get the debris off the roads, it’ll be great,” said Katie Colosimo, a driver.

“Yeah, because things fly up,” added Brittany Green. “It’d be great to have it not even on the road.”

The SuperMag comes with a price tag of $15,000 but Carr argued that it can pay for itself within a year based on their work with road departments throughout the country.

"While it can cost up to $750 to repair and replace a tire on a maintenance vehicle, the more significant cost is the lost time of the idled crew," Carr said.

You can learn more about Storch Magnetics, here.