Bigger Bang for the Buck: Innovative New Process Allows City to Resurface Bigger Sections of Road

Reprinted with permission from The Manistee News Advocate, Manistee, MI

Controversial Asphalt Plant to Open

By Ken Grabowski, Manistee News Advocate, May 29, 2009

City of Manistee officials put together good fiscal management, new technology, and a well thought out plan to come up with a program that will allow them to get a “bigger bang for their buck” in revitalizing streets within the city limits.

Many city residents will see workers from Gallagher Asphalt of Chicago, Ill. in various locations around the city doing what appears at first glance to be a paving job of several city streets. However, on closer examination, people will find a new process that actually takes the existing asphalt and mixes in liquid asphalt to revitalize the streets.

According to Manistee City Manager Mitch Deisch, the whole process began over a year ago following a directive from the city council’s strategic planning that called for a goal of achieving better city streets. Once the goal was identified, it went to staff, who began the process by creating an asset management plan.

“I think the whole key here is about 15 months ago our process of developing an asset management plan for our streets through this plan educated ourselves on how to, as efficiently as possible, spend our limited resources to insure we have the best overall road system possible for the City of Manistee,” said Deisch. “So, we created the plan and rated all the streets on which ones needed to be resurfaced.

“We then invited several different contractors with unique paving systems to present, and educate us. It gave us a chance to see if they have a place in the asset management plan we use in the City of Manistee.”

Deisch said by following the process through, it gave them the opportunity to learn something new about road resurfacing.

“Through this process we were able to identify a relatively new technique called ‘Hot In Place’ that allows us to stretch our dollars further by rehabilitating more roads than we could have done under older traditional methods of street resurfacing,” said Deisch. “We have the concept of an asset management plan, and that came out of the strategic planning process. So, the council strategic planning process developed that goal, staff took it to the next level in we need to do an asset management program on this, and then we educated ourselves on what asset management is. We looked at different techniques which work for the City of Manistee, and created the plan that we are now implementing.”

Deisch and City of Manistee engineer of record Jeff Mikula of Abonmarche Inc. said the process used by Gallagher Asphalt is quite unique in nature. Mikula explained there are two heating units on the equipment they use in the process.

“The first one heats up to 150 degrees with propane burners to loosen up the asphalt and make it pliable,” said Mikula. “The second one heats to 250 to 300 degrees, and that loosens it up from the road. Liquid asphalt is then added in to the heated up road material and two series of forks dig it up from the road.”

Deisch pointed out that the forks are set at different levels for a specific purpose. All the material all is deposited into what looks like a traditional paving machine.

“The first fork digs in a half-inch, and the second one an inch and a half,” said Deisch. “That material goes into the hopper and is rejuvenated with the new liquid all in one. It is then laid back down, and roller comes in behind to clean it up.”

However, the city manager pointed out their is one final step to the process that completes it. That is the placing of a very thin covering coat of asphalt. It is a vital step to the process.

“There is no other technique like this, one of ripping up the asphalt,” said Deisch. “On the top we will put an ultra thin wear cap in June and we have already contracted that out. That is so water and other things don’t go through it. It is fine just like that in some climates, but in ones like ours with the snow, rain, freezing and thawing you need that cap overlay.”

Mikula said that residents living and traveling on Manistee’s northside should be aware they will be in that area over the next several days working on several streets. They will then move on to some streets on the south side of town.

“We plan on doing First, Second, Third and Fourth avenues in the next few days,” said Mikula. “We also are going to do Cornell, Princeton, Greenwich, Ramsdell and Davis streets. We may need the same amount of money on roads as in the past, but we can do three times as much area using this system.”

What it does is eliminate the costly need to bring in a grinder to take part of the old surface off and then smoothing it out to pave. Mikula said it also is a process that is environmental friendly and it has drawn the attention other communities.

“It is the ultimate recycling of the asphalt that you already have down and in place,” said Mikula. “We have people from about 10 different places coming to look at it over the next few days.”

Deisch said Manistee is really in the ground floor of the asset management plan process and this more than proves that point.

“We are really on the cutting edge for asset management plans, as there are 650 municipalities and there are only 16 state approved asset management plans,” said Deisch. “That bodes well for Manistee as the council did their part, the staff took it from there and here we are today.”