Cold Milling the Baystate Roads

By Joanne Ray | September 28, 2010

Operator Todd Nedzweckas dumps milled asphalt into tri-axle truck at Columbia Cove, Dorchester, Mass.

Cold milling has been around since the 1970s but it is only in the past few years that the concept has become a preferred process while doing over our nation's roads.

And lucky thing Dan Amorello saw it coming.

The owner of the Worcester-based Dan Amorello Services, Inc. used the milling process years ago when the concept was not thought about by many.

"The first time we milled a job, the customer was annoyed," Amorello said. "At the time we only had a 12-inch milling machine attachment that we used."

Amorello started the company 20 years ago when he went out on his own, paving and seal coating driveways.

Today, 24 employees later, the company has a full-service milling operation and is the proud owner of two full-width Wirtgen 2000 mills, a 40- inch trimmer, a 24 inch trimmer, and a rumble strip machine.

Cold milling is the controlled removal of the surface of the existing pavement to the desired depth, with specially designed milling equipment to restore the pavement surface to the specified grade and cross-slope. Cold milling can be used to remove part or all of the existing pavement layers. The amount of material removed can also be varied in order to meet project specific requirements. The resulting textured pavement can be used immediately as a driving surface.

An article written by John Hood, product manager of milling and paving, BOMAG, Americas, Inc., points out that "given America's progressively aging infrastructure, cold milling machines are being used more and more on today's paving projects. Whether it's a city street that's been overlaid once too often, under-road utilities that are well beyond their 30-year life spans or pavements that have simply failed, the cold milling machine has become a vital tool for removing asphalt layers, performing utility maintenance cuts and tearing out roadways to repair weak foundations. In fact, it's this combination of multiple capabilities and an infrastructure that isn't getting any younger that has contributed to a major boom for mill sales in the past five years."

Hood points out that despite the growing demand for milling on today's jobs, only 20 percent of paving contractors in the U.S. currently own and operate their own cold milling machines. That leaves 80 percent that choose to subcontract this work to others.

Why the milling gap?

According to Hood, though few successful paving contractors would question the importance of these services in the industry today, there seems to be wide concern as to whether the investment, effort and worry associated with venturing into this facet of the business are really worth it. Therefore, most choose to pay someone else to do the work rather than incur the expense of purchasing, operating, transporting, and maintaining their own equipment. But while most of these contractors think they're saving money and hassle by subcontracting instead of owning, in reality many are actually leaving money on the table. Though their concerns are understandable, when looked at more closely and objectively, it's clear that purchasing a cold milling machine presents more "opportunities" than "obstacles."

And what an opportunity it has been for Amorello.

"Our Wirtgen 2000's cut width is 79 inches and has a depth of up to 10 inches. These machines, like all our mills, come with computer grade controls. Whether it is a trench reconstruction or curb to curb mill and inlay, the machine provides accurate and consistent work," said vice-president of operations, Todd Nedzweckas. "These frequently serviced mills can have a productive day of covering up to 10,000 square yards each."

"To accommodate smaller projects we offer trimmers," Nedzweckas said. "They can be operated with or without the rear discharge conveyors. Without the conveyor it can be utilized in tighter areas."

Nedzweckas pointed out that cutting transitions are not the only use for these trimmers. Pre-milling a utility trench is a valuable use of these machines for the contractor. It eliminates saw cutting and the disposal of existing asphalt.

"We can readily install, to multiple specifications at a rate of 120 feet per minute," Nedzweckas said.

One of Amorello's major customers is the ongoing work the company does for NStar. A major project of late was the repair of 10 miles of road after NStar had installed transition lines. The project started in the town of Canton, Mass., and passed through Milton, Mattapan, Dorchester, and S. Boston.

Recently, Amorello milled and paved an NStar project in Framingham, Mass.