(L-R): John Edwards, Cowin Equipment Company; Jimmy Cole, Paulding County DOT; Andrew Bell, Cowin Equipment Company; and Michael Steele, Paulding County DOT, recalibrate the machine for a 1.5-in. cut.
Not too long ago, Paulding County, Ga., had well over 200 mi. of dirt roads to maintain.
Today, the number of miles has been reduced to approximately 60 mi. and will eventually be zero. The Paulding County Department of Transportation is accomplishing this by using its own milled material from other road projects and recycling the product to create “hard surfaced” dirt roads.
The process is pretty straightforward. The county uses a motorgrader to fine-grade the surface of the dirt road and then distributes the recycled milled material with a dozer, which further breaks down any large chunks of millings. Crews wet and roll the material with a vibratory compactor, and the heat of the sun does the rest.
This process has worked well. Once complete, the county can reclassify the roads as milling roads rather than dirt roads. If there's an area that needs to be patched — where dirt or GAB compromised the milled material to create a pothole — the county can use a milling attachment to take up the area that needs to be repaired and put down hot mix. So far, residents have been quite pleased with the transformation.
“We usually have to come out and blade a dirt road twice a year and place new rock,” said Jimmy Cole, paving manager and a 28-year veteran of the Paulding County Department of Transportation. “We don't have to do that anymore on these roads. We're working to change all dirt roads to milling roads. The smoother milled material and dust control are big advantages to us, as well as drivers. Now, rather than sending crews out to blade a road, we send them out to patch as needed.”
The pace at which Paulding County is converting the dirt roads requires large quantities milled material. In the past, the county would simply contract out its major milling projects. All of the milled material would be shipped back to the asphalt plants of the companies it contracted.
“The county wanted us to save the money and do the milling process 'in house,' Cole said. “We've always done whatever we can to save money, including stockpiling old milled material from previous projects for use on resurfacing county dirt roads.”
The bottom line: Paulding County needed a milling machine.
“We recently purchased a Bomag BM1300/30 cold planer to create our own milled material,” Cole said. “In the past, the only milling we were able to do was with a Bobcat machine with a patch miller attachment. We worked that machine hard! We've known for years that we needed a bigger milling machine and we finally got one. This is our first milling machine purchase. We went online and looked at what was available. We went to some factories to look at machines. We also went to other counties to watch their milling operations. In the end, we went with a Bomag machine. Now, Paulding County is able to produce their own milled product to the benefit of the residents of the county.”
According to Cole, Ronnie Morris, the county's road superintendent, looked at what the county needed and talked with Andrew Bell of Cowin Equipment Company.
“He accompanied us to the Bomag factory in South Carolina,” said Cole. “While there, we saw a quality machine being built, and we were impressed with the process. We were able to run and test operate some of the features on machines. The service after the sale with both Bomag and Cowin Equipment seemed like a great fit for us as well. They were able answer all our questions and address all of our concerns. They both treated us well and taught us a lot in a very short amount of time. I think it was an all-around good deal.”
Cole said the funds for the machine came from the SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) money available from an additional, temporary one cent tax for improvements such as this. He said it's an investment that will pay off for years to come.
So far, the DOT has used the Bomag BM1300/30 cold planer for milling out bad spots on roads and for milling and patching county roads. The machine also is used for more exacting work, including for curb milling for profiling to allow them to tie into curbing with new pavement. The machine's 48 by 12 in. depth milling capabilities fits the parameters that the Paulding County DOT was looking for.
“We're still relatively new with this machine,” said Cole. “We especially like how a person on the ground can have a machine controller and can actually make changes that assist the operator. The machine is very user-friendly and we've only had to pull out the owner's manual a time or two. We received an extensive two-day training program and are well equipped with the knowledge of how to use the machine as efficiently as possible. The folks from Bomag, including Jerry Fitch, and the folks from Cowin, including John Edwards, were all here when the machine was delivered and assisted us on the initial setup and use of the machine. It was a real hands-on process with the manufacturer and their dealer.”
According to Michael Steele, Paulding County DOT equipment operator, this machine has significantly improved the milling process. Steele has been with the Paulding County DOT for more than 16 years and operates all of the machines in the fleet.
“The Bomag covers a larger amount of surface in a much shorter time compared to our previous method,” said Steele. “In the past, we were using a machine that was designed for maybe a 4 by 4 foot pothole to be milled and then using this same machine for long stretches of road surface. This machine is a lot more productive and user-friendly. Also, the electronics are great for your 'ground guy' helping the operator. Also, the ability to line up the machine and readily identify your start and stop points, makes this machine stand out to me.”
Steele also toured the Bomag factory and said the group at Bomag was like dealing with family.
“They were very upfront and able to answer any questions you had for them, said Steele. “The parts department is well stocked and efficient, which is extremely important to us to minimize our downtime.”
“We have a maintenance department who are trained to work on this machine, and if we need additional assistance, we feel very confident that Cowin and Bomag are capable of completely supporting us,” said Steele.
John Edwards of Cowin Equipment was very impressed with the professionalism of the Paulding County DOT maintenance department.
“The Bomag training for the maintenance staff for the Paulding County DOT went quite well. They were extremely knowledgeable, attentive and picked up on the training quite well.”
In the long run, Cole said that buying this machine is going to save the county money and expand the abilities of the Paulding County DOT, especially with regards to contract milling for larger resurfacing projects.
“In the past, a small milling project could take most of a day. With the new Bomag machine, we can accomplish that same task in about 20 minutes. That's a lot of saved money over a year's time” said Cole.