Hot Asphalt Plants Now Open

BUFFALO, NY - Those tire munching and car crunching potholes on area roads have been made worse by all the deep freeze - thaw cycles and the heavy use of salt on slippery roads. Highway crews tried to fill the worst with the cold patch but it loosened up and got scraped away by plows.

Public works officials kept saying wait until the hot asphalt plants are open to really do the job and now they finally are.

Hot asphalt which is heated up to 300 degrees is ready to be loaded into trucks of contractors and the county and various communities at the Gernatt Hot Asphalt plant on Union Road in West Seneca. They actually have several of the hot asphalt plants in Western New York.

Gernatt VP Bill Schmitz says "Hot mix asphalt is a combination of rock, that can be crushed stone or gravel and liquid asphalt which is a petroleum product, refined in the same way as gas and diesel are. There is a huge demand for hot mix. The whole question comes down to will the towns, will the counties have enough money to do it."

Actually the state is chipping in a bit to help out with road repairs. A $40 million dollar one time allocation will be split up among all the counties, cities, and towns. But it collectively trickles down to $1.6 Million for Erie County and nearly $600,000 for Niagara County and an extra $27,000 for a town like West Seneca. But they'll have to cover the estimated 62 dollar per ton asphalt cost.

West Seneca Highway Superintendent Matt English says "So far the blacktop, I think we'll be okay. Every nickel helps and the state did a good job in giving us that money. But so far I think we'll try to hold the line."

Gernatt is also trying to help out with various blends of asphalt as Schmitz says "We try to work with the customers...the town, villages and specify the mixes that'll do the best job."

And English says "You know you have potholes and them you have the road seams that opened up with the frost. So yeah it's be pretty hectic for the next month or so."


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