Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

New asphalt plant up, operations to begin soon

Washington County’s new asphalt plant has been erected, and testing will begin soon in preparation for the spring paving season.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Plant Manager Ed Canter who has served with the highway department for 31 years. “We were limping through with our old equipment, and the software was shutting down three times a day.”
During January, Canter and four other employees spent two weeks dismantling the original structure built in 1972.
As part of the turn-key service provided by Astec, Inc., the largest asphalt company in the world, the plant was assembled in Chattanooga so the county could inspect the final product before accepting it.
Canter, a certified asphalt design and mixture technician, went down to Chattanooga after Christmas to review the work.
Once approved, Astec brought the plant to Washington County and erected it on Asphalt Plant Road. “Getting it under roof is the easy part,” Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins said. “Now we’ll start working the bugs out.”
An Astec serviceman is scheduled to install the new controls and computer during the first of April. “You don’t put up a facility like this and have things work perfectly when you turn the switch on,” Deakins said.
While the timeline is on schedule, Deakins said an additional 3,000 tons of asphalt were put down during the last six months of 2013 in preparation for any delays.
“If we hadn’t had Astec assemble the plant, it would have taken us at least a month or six weeks longer to do it ourselves,” Deakins said. “We’re happy.”
Deakins pointed to the new wiring, which is all overhead rather than being run underground or laid in the trough as it was in the 40-year-old former plant.
The more than $1 million project also includes a stationary 1-ton batch tower; batch control system; relocatable 10-foot-by-12-foot cold feed bins; water injection foaming warm asphalt system; oil burner; remote ticket printer; and a 10,000-gallon vertical asphalt tank for emulsion.
“If this plant lasts 40 years, which it should with the new technology, it will pay for itself in eight to 10 years,” Deakins said.
The oil burner is expected to cut the fuel costs to dry the rock in half, while going to a warm mix injection system will enable the asphalt to cure faster, reducing fumes and preventing loss on the tires of the paving trucks.
The new asphalt plant is something the taxpayers should be proud of, according to Deakins. “I am,” he said. “We’ve got a job to do, and we do it to the best of our ability with what we’ve got. Our job is not to make money, it’s to save money.”
Deakins praised the efforts of the asphalt plant staff. “Eddie’s guys worked through a lot of harsh weather,” he said. “I gave them a deadline, and they worked some of the coldest days of the year to meet it.”
When the plant is in operation, Deakins plans to hold an open house and invite the public and county officials to see the new facility.