Chipping and branch seal complete, paving begins after Labor Day

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Branch County Road Commission crews will complete the chip and grout paving program next week, earlier this year than 2021, according to manager Jay Miller.

“We’re ahead of last year’s schedule, but we had these storms,” ​​Miller said. His crews left the paving in August for the two major storms to help remove trees from the roads and along the roads.

Commission crews deposited emulsion and then covered with rock chips on 32.09 miles of major roads from early July. Crews added sand to the rock this year to prevent the rock chips from scattering and hitting vehicles. Nine townships contracted with the commission to jointly seal an additional 43.79 miles of secondary roads.

Miller said crews will begin paving Labor Day week and “see everything we can do” before the weather shuts down the asphalt plant. Asphalt coatings are heavier than chips and sealer sprayed on emulsion coated rock. The first repaving project is Lake Road, from Wheeler Road to Quimby. The other full paving projects will complete the repaving of Batavia Road.

The Branch County Road Commission's asphalt plant was upgraded this year with full automation and conveyors.

“Those are the main areas,” Miller said. “We looked at Fisher Road and Cornell, but we may not be able to get there until the end of the season.”

Miller said plans to repave Marshall Road from the city limits of Coldwater to Jonesville will wait until 2023.

He added that the rebuilt asphalt plant was working well. Local contractors completed the work on May 15.

“It went really well from start to finish,” Miller said.

The commission spent just under $400,000 to upgrade and fully automate its asphalt plant to produce the road material locally.

Crews used custom-produced asphalt to “seal the cobblestones” of the roads planned for the seal coating. These areas were where the damage was too extensive to successfully repair the road just with the sealant coating.

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The roads commission hired a Swedish gravel crusher for its quarries this year.

“We produced over 40,000 tons of gravel,” Miller said at three county-owned pits.

The machine will complete work in the center pit of US 12, then move to the Kowalski pit near Block Road between Hatmaker and Kosmerick.

The commission wants to open a new pit on the property off Wheeler Road at US 12 before the winter weather stops working for the season.

“In terms of cost-benefit, it’s not about doing everything in-house,” Miller said. “It’s more than profitable. We’re exploring the possibility of keeping it longer, if and only if the price is right.”

After the season is over, Miller will have better numbers on the actual rock and asphalt costs. Ballpark estimates were half the price of commercial purchases.

Two projects were completed by private contractors with federal-local funding in early summer. River Road from US 12 to Union City Road was reshaped and paved. Ray-Quincy was ground and paved from Grove to the state line.

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