Breckenridge Texan

Pavement removed from U.S. Highway 180 construction to be used for county road repairs

Pavement removed from U.S. Highway 180 construction to be used for county road repairs
February 04
10:19 2019

The pavement being removed from U.S. Highway 180 East will soon start finding its way into Stephens County county road repairs.

Stephens County Commissioners have agreed to purchase the old asphalt for $50 per load from Prater Equipment Co., Inc. the company that is rebuilding U.S. Highway 180 East.

Reusing the asphalt to repair county roads is expected to save the county thousands of dollars on road materials while improving the quality of the road repairs, according to Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Warren.

Using asphalt millings from U.S. 180 East for county road repairs

Warren said there is about a foot and a half layer of old asphalt that is being stripped off the highway. He said when it’s stripped off, it’s also ground up into small pieces and turned into what is called millings. The millings can then be used to spread out on county roads and packed down to make repairs to the county roads.

“These are the best millings I’ve ever seen,” Warren said. “A lot of times you get big ol’ chunks of pavement, and it’s hard to do anything with that stuff. It’s just good material.”

Warren said the county is purchasing the millings for $50 per dump truck load. He said cost for the same type of material if it were new would run about $1,500 to $1,800 a load.

“That’s brand new, and it’ll pack better,” he said.  “This won’t pack quite as good, because it’s been chewed back up, but it’s packing pretty nicely,” he said. “When you mix it with some caliche or dirt on the road, it really packs well.”

Because of the high cost, Warren said, the county very rarely buys the more expensive new asphalt mix

“We’ll buy a little bit every now and then to patch potholes, but it’s so expensive we try not buy anymore than we just have to have,” he said.

Once the millings are stripped off the highway, they are hauled a short distance to a spot near the rodeo grounds where it will be stored and until it’s used.

Using millings instead of limestone base on county road repairs

Warren said they will use the millings to make road repairs to county roads that they normally make with limestone base, which they would have to purchase at a higher rate.  He said the county pays around $100 to $110 per load for new limestone base when they purchase it, and since they are only paying $50 per load for the millings, they are getting twice as much material to use for road repairs in the county for the same amount of money.

He said that by using the millings to patch the roads, the repair quality will be better and it will be cheaper. For example, he said roads patched with the millings will be a lot easier on tires it won’t have the dust in it like the limestone and caliche base does that blows away. Hopefully, he said, the roads will wear a lot better and a lot longer.

“When you throw off that dust, that is part of your road, and then it just floats off into your pasture and eventually you can only blade these things so many times,” he said. “You’re losing that dust, which is what packs in around the rocks to make it smooth. Hopefully it’ll (millings) hold those roads together a little longer, because Stephens County is just not made out of money. We can’t buy lots of material, so we have to do a good job with what we have.”

Warren said he doesn’t know the exact amount of roads the county will be able to repair with the millings, but since it doesn’t have to be put on as thick as the caliche, they can cover double the amount of road with the same amount of material.

“Essentially you’re getting double of what we’ve been able to do,” he said.

County to receive old caliche base from highway

In addition removing the asphalt on the old highway, Warren said, Prater Equipment Co. is also removing the caliche base that is under the old asphalt on the highway because it will be replaced. He said Prater Equipment Co. agreed to give Stephens County the old caliche base at no charge.

All in all, Warren said they expect to get a total of about 800 loads of the millings from the north side of the highway that is currently being milled up and between 300 and 500 loads of base that is under the asphalt being removed. Once they start removing the asphalt from the south lane of the highway in a few months, they will also get those millings and that base, too. He said the county will not have to purchase any new limestone base for county road repairs until all the millings have been used.

By purchasing the millings at the $50 rate, Warren said, the county is expected to save around $10,000 on road material cost.  “So we’re really getting two years worth of material in one,” he said.

“Really, this going to go twice as far,” Warren said.  “So you’re gaining an extra $10,000 worth of material. You’re getting twice the material for what you’re paying for a load of limestone.”

Agreement to pay later

According to an agreement with Prater Equipment Co. that was approved at last Thursday’s commissioners meeting, the county will be able to purchase and pay for all the milling they can afford right now with their current budget. Then, with the rest of the milling they get, they can pay for it next year with their new budget.

Warren said each of the four precincts only has an annual road materials budget of $10,000 for a total budget of $40,000. Although the millings they are planning to purchase from Prater will exceed this year’s budget, Warren said the county needs the materials. He said that’s why they approved the agreement with Prater that will allow them to pay for the rest of millings next year when they have a new budget.

He said right now they are going to purchase and pay for as much of the milling material as they can until their budget runs out this year and then pay for the rest of it next year with their new budget.

“They’re going to have a lot more material than we have money.” Warren said. “We just want to have everything covered to where we get every bit of that (millings.) Once this material is gone, it’s gone; there’s not going to be another project. In our lifetime, we’re not going to going to see a buildup of asphalt out there to get that big to, where commissioners in the future will ever have that choice. With a foot and half thick, that’s probably 60 years of asphalt.”

Using millings in the past

It’s not unusual for counties in Texas to get millings from highway work. Warren said every year the state will give the counties a little bit of material. He said, for example, when South Breckenridge Avenue (U.S. Highway 183 South) was reworked recently, the state reserved the millings as part of the contract on the project and Stephens County received several loads of millings from the state. Stephens County also received millings from the Interstate 20 construction a few years back.

However, he said, on the U.S. Highway 180 East job, the state did not keep the millings as part of the contract. He said sometimes the state reserves them and sometimes they don’t.

“They gave it to us on 183 South, and you know as tight as our budgets are, if we didn’t have that rock, I  don’t know what we would do. If it hadn’t been for this construction company coming in, we wouldn’t have had the materials to do what we’ve done.”

Asphalt that is being stripped off U.S. Highway 180 East during construction on the highway and sold to Stephens County is stored in piles near the rodeo grounds and ag barn. The millings will be used for repairs on the county’s roads. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Workers from Prater Equipment Co. load millings of asphalt being stripped off U.S. Highway 180 East into Stephens County dump trucks. The county is buying the millings from the highway to be used on county road repairs in the county. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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