In-house program saving money

WARREN – Cold patch, the thick gooey black material used to plug potholes, cost the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office $52,803 for the material alone last year. Tack on about another $9.15 a ton for delivery, and the total cost for the office rises to $58,384 to fill chuckholes in the 2011-12 winter season.

This season, the per-ton price jumped $8.20 to an average $103.92 to have the material delivered to the engineer’s North River Road facility, in some instances from Ravenna and as far away as Canton.

So Engineer Randy Smith says he looked at the bottom line – dollars and cents – and decided to mix the material in-house, which resulted in a savings of 22 percent.

”We looked at the cost, had some challenges with the quality of the material in the past. There’s been some challenges of availability of material in the past,” Smith said. ”Also, there is that convenience factor and the timing factor.”

Cold patch is an ultra pliable mix of stone and asphalt binder that is used primary to patch potholes in cold weather, when asphalt plants that make hot mix – used in warm weather for paving projects or more permanent patches – are closed.

In some cases, the patch is placed in the holes and compacted by traffic. In others, in communities or agencies with the equipment and manpower, like the engineer’s office, it’s compacted with a roller or tamper to form a more permanent patch.

Smith has offered the material to communities at cost. A handful have taken advantage.

Dan Livingston, service director in Hubbard, said he is satisfied with the price – the city is saving about $15 a ton buying from the county – and the material’s sturdiness. ”It seems to hold better,” Livingston said.

Howland has purchased two loads from the county.

Dave McCann, director of public works in Howland, said the township was buying cold patch from a seller in Youngstown at about $17 more a ton. He’s gone with the county because of the price and the proximity – the township’s public works department is just minutes away from the engineer’s office.

Other communities buy from the county are Warren, Bazetta and Liberty, according to Smith.

To keep the material, the office built a 34-by-48-foot canvass-covered dome with a concrete floor. The $32,316 cost of the building is being paid for from the cost savings of making the cold patch, Smith said.