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Asphalt recycle machine helps Missoula keep up with potholes

Published On: Mar 15 2013 07:24:01 PM MDT   Updated On: Mar 18 2013 01:46:26 PM MDT

Nice weather's clear roads are uncovering the first of Missoula's spring potholes. They will probably get worse before they get better. It's hard to get ahead of potholes. But the city has a recycle machine that helps.

Old asphalt milled from the streets is fed into the recycle machine. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes under intensive heat to cook it.

"It reheats it, agitates it, turns it around," said city street division superintendent, Brian Hensel, "and we get fresh, brand new asphalt."

The city still uses cold patch asphalt as a backup. It's an asphalt with special chemicals that is applied, of course, cold. But the city is buying less of that than it used to, and only uses the cold asphalt when the machine is down.

Now, it primarily uses this recycled hot asphalt.

"It has better longevity and is certainly much cheaper," said Hensel.

Cheaper because it's recycled, and it can be used all year round.

"When the asphalt plants are closed so that instead of having to go to purchase asphalt," said the superintendent, "we can make it ourselves."

The city hopes to make up the cost of the $189,000 machine in 10 years or less.

When it hits the pothole the hot asphalt is still 375 to 400 degrees. Guys who like working with it said it seals better.

Give or take,  the team NBC Montana went out with, Kevin and Shane, fill 70 to 80 potholes a day.