Twelve Years Later, Coating on North Carolina Tunnel Still Holding up Beautifully

Pittsburgh, March 12, 2008 - Spectacular vistas along the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains bring thousands of visitors to Asheville, N.C., every year. Naturally, the North Carolina Department of Transportation strives to ensure the tunnels and roadways that traverse this scenic highway blend in to the beautiful mountainous setting.

When the 1,050-foot-long Beau Catcher Tunnel was renovated in the winter of 1996, the DOT was faced with a mountain of challenges. First of all, it wanted to reduce leaks and reduce the risk of rockslides. But it also wanted to remove nearly 50 years of graffiti and accumulated dirt and residue - and keep the surface protected for years to come.

General contractor, Orbit, Inc. of Waynesville, N.C., knew exactly what to do. They called upon Hehr International Polymers of Decatur, Ga., to manufacture a two-component, high-performance aliphatic polyurea that utilized the latest technology from Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

The polyurethane coating system that they recommended was developed specifically to meet the unusual conditions inside the tunnel. When the temperature inside the tunnel rises, the substrates expand, and when the temperature drops, the substrates contract, causing the tunnel joints to move anywhere from 25-30 percent.

The polyaspartic aliphatic polyurea coating bonded to the concrete walls of the tunnel, yet offered the elasticity necessary to accommodate changing temperatures and humidity. Furthermore, it provided an anti-graffiti coating that was easy to clean and maintain. Because the new coating system was virtually weatherproof, it kept rain, snow and wind from damaging the structure's panels.

Every year since 1996, the tunnel has been cleaned with a high-pressure hose - a hydroseeder that effectively knocks off all the grime and debris. Then it undergoes a careful scrutiny by a team of DOT experts trained to inspect bridge, tunnel and road surfaces for needed repairs or potential problems.

According to DOT's Gary Moore, division bridge maintenance engineer, the coating system on the Beau Catcher Tunnel is living up to its expectations. "We wanted a surface that would look good and weather well," said Moore. "The coating system on this tunnel really takes a beating every year, with all the traffic and this high-pressure cleaning. But it is holding up very well. We'd certainly use this polyurethane system again in other tunnels."

Because of its good looks and cleanability, the polyurethane coating system on the Beau Catcher Tunnel has saved the North Carolina DOT a considerable amount on tunnel maintenance and repair.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of polymers and high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with nearly 15,400 employees at 30 sites around the world and 2007 sales of 10.4 billion euros. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries. Our inorganic basic chemicals unit produces chlorine and related essential products for the chemicals industry. Let us give life to your vision. Bayer MaterialScience -- Where VisionWorks.

Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and innovative materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. In North America, Bayer had 2006 net sales of 7.8 billion euros and employed 17,200 at year end. Bayer's three subgroups, Bayer HealthCare, Bayer CropScience and Bayer MaterialScience, improve people's lives through a broad range of essential products that help prevent and treat diseases; protect crops and enhance yields; and advance automobile safety and durability.

Thomas Erdner, Phone: 412-777-5200

For more information about Bayer MaterialScience's polyurethane coating technology, call 1-800-662-2927, e-mail or visit

For more information about Hehr International Polymers, call 770-593-2220 or visit

For more information about the North Carolina Department of Transportation, call 828-298-1128 or visit

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