NIagara Falls Hot Patch Truck Only Useful When It's Warm

7:01 PM, Mar 22, 2011   |    comments
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Hot Patch Truck owned by City of Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Michael Gratto of Niagara Falls sent 2 On Your Side an e-mail, asking us to look into an expensive looking piece of equipment which he noticed had been sitting idle for several months in the city's Department of Public Works lot on New Road.

Sure enough, the equipment he referred to, a large orange truck, was sitting right where he described along a back fence of the equipment yard.

"I appreciate people asking," said Niagara Falls Department of Public Works Director David Kinney, who explained that the truck does indeed sit idle for several months out of the year, ...but insisted it was for good reason.

The specialized truck, known as a hot patch truck, contains a heated compartment allowing for asphalt to be kept hot and pliable.

Kinney said the truck cost approximately $175,000.

Kinney explained further that "hot" patch, a material used to pave and repair roads in warm weather, is only manufactured during warm weather months.

"Right now, there's no hot patch available to put in it," said Kinney, "but we'll start using it the next month or so when the hot patch (asphalt) plants open up."

During colder months, streets crews use an asphalt substance known as "cold" patch in their annual battle to keep potholes at bay.

"It's the same reason the farmer has his corn planter in the barn today. Right now you can't plant corn. It serves no purpose to use that truck right now because this time of year you can only use cold patch, and you don't heat cold patch to apply it," Kinney said.

The truck was bought in tandem with an asphalt recycling machine a few years back, which never worked out because the city didn't have the manpower to operate both machines properly.

"I wasn't here at the time when they bought it...had I been here at the time I probably would have never agreed to buy it," said Kinney, who says the asphalt recycler was later sold off with the money used to purchase other equipment.

But Kinney says they decided to keep the truck because, "it's still very usable."

During the bulk of the construction season when hot patch is used, Kinney says any surplus asphalt from a job can be stored in the heated truck and used later--- instead of being thrown out at the end of each day.

"So is it usable? Yes. And that's why we kept it," Kinney said.

Kinney says possessing expensive equipment which is only used for part of the year is an unfortunate part of maintaining streets in the northeast United States.....noting that he has a yard full of snow removal equipment which sits idle for 7 or 8 months out of the year as well.

If you have something you'd like us to look into, it's as easy as going to our home page, and clicking on the interact button right near the top.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher.




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