Milford's pothole fixer may start helping other towns

Milford’s Public Works Department hopes to start using its asphalt recycling machine to help surrounding communities get rid of some of their potholes, and bring in a bit of extra revenue to the city at the same time.

The Public Works Department spent about $140,000 in 2005 to buy a heavy duty Bagela asphalt recycler to help keep city streets pothole free during the cold winter months.

Asphalt plants typically close in the winter because winter is not the best time to spread asphalt, explained Public Works Director Chris Saley. So, before buying the machine, Milford had to rely on cold patch to fill road holes in the winter, and cold patch just never did the job well. It didn’t adhere properly, and before long, the same old pothole was often back.

Since buying the machine, Milford has been able to take old asphalt, run it through the recycler, along with additives, to produce about 300 tons of hot asphalt, or hot patch, per season to fix city roads.

“It’s like a big mixer,” Saley said.

Not many communities have their own asphalt recyclers: Saley thinks only two or three cities in the area have them.

When an official from one area town called recently asking if he could buy hot patch from Milford, Saley thought it was a great idea.

Not only would it generate some income to help offset maintenance costs for the recycler, it would also help other towns, and give Milford’s recycling machine a little more exercise.

Talking to the Board of Aldermen Monday night, Saley explained that having a machine that has been known to recycle 200 tons of asphalt a day, and using it as little as Milford does, is like starting up a car and only driving it for a mile. It’s better to keep those parts running for a while.

The aldermen on Monday night approved Saley’s request to set up a special revenue fund for the purpose of depositing money received from the sale of asphalt.

The Public Works Department needed the fund in order to sell to other communities. Saley said he also has to review some technicalities with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection before the department can actually start selling its hot patch.

Details still have to be worked out, but if Ansonia, for example, were to bring four tons of asphalt for recycling, Milford would give them back four tons of hot asphalt and charge them $50 a ton.

Alderman Nick Veccharelli said he thinks buying the asphalt recycler years ago under former Public Works Director Bruce Kolwicz was a great idea. “My car thanks you,” Veccharelli said.

But he asked if Milford would realize a profit by selling to other towns. Saley said there will be a profit, but likely a modest one.

“We don’t know how much,” Saley said. “It’s not a huge ticket item, but we want to have a process in place to be able to do this.”

Perhaps more important than revenue for now, he said, is that selling the hot patch will be a neighborly thing to do and it will be good for the asphalt recycler.

“It’s good to get it up and running,” Saley said. “This is a machine that should be used more often.”

The city recently paid $8,900 to refurbish the recycler, and any money that comes in helps offset that cost, he added.

Although Saley asked the aldermen for a fund so he could sell hot patch to other municipalities, he said he would also be in favor of selling it to contractors in the future if all goes well.