From pieces of paving to salt and sand, highway department puts its equipment to recycling use

Published Nov 7, 2018 at 4:00pm

KIRKLAND — Kirkland Highway Department is gearing up for the winter months, utilizing the department’s milling hoppers to prepare the salt/sand mixture that will be spread across slick and snowy roads.

Highway Superintendent Jon Scott explained that the salt used on the roadways from Cargill, a company the state contracts with to provide deicing salt, is dumped by front loader into the first hopper and then sand, which the town gets locally from Barrett Paving, goes into the second hopper. The sand and salt mix on a conveyor belt, which transports the material inside the salt barn at the highway garage.

“It used to take about a month-and-a-half to do what we’re doing now, but now it only takes us five days,” Scott said of the town’s equipment, which was purchased used.

The town highway department is responsible for maintaining 44 miles of road, from plowing and sanding to routine maintenance, resurfacing, roadside mowing and ditching. During the winter, plows are responsible for an additional 33 miles of county and Village of Clinton roadways. As the materials are being sifted through the hoppers, there is a screen shaker that separates the larger pieces of materials from the finer.

The sand/salt material is now piled just about up to the ceiling of the highway garage — somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 tons worth.

“We used to go up to 10-12,000 tons for a typical winter,” Scott said, adding that the materials mixed today are more efficient.

During the warmer months, Scott said the machinery was being used to recycle milling materials as highway personnel were doing repair work and repaving Norton Avenue.

As heavy machinery dug up the old road, it would dump the materials into a dump truck that hauled it over to the highway garage. There the hoppers ground the materials and separated the larger chunks of asphalt. The materials are then stockpiled and stored on the grounds to be used for future road repairs.

The milling materials “we can use to fill potholes, as a base material or re-mix it with (hot) asphalt in it,” Scott said. Recycled asphalt can be used when repairing or repaving a road because it’s not the materials that are bad, it’s the earth underneath (the roadway), the highway superintendent added.

And thanks to Scott’s personal drone, which he is certified and licensed to operate, the highway department always knows how much materials are in its stockpiles. Photographs taken by the drones flown overhead are shot using a grid system, and hundreds of photos can be taken at a time, Scott explained. Through a computer program, Scott is then able to create 3D maps of the highway department’s grounds.

“The current screened millings pile is 1,099 cubic yards. We covered an existing pile that was about 430 cubic yards. So we have added about 669 cubic yards of millings, which equates to 1,262 tons,” the highway superintendent said. “The current price for screened millings is $20 per ton. So, the millings we recaptured are worth approximately $25,250. Plus, approximately 120 tons, or 17 percent, of the original pile consisted of chunks that were screened out. There is a value to them as well.”