Milling asphalt pavements prior to repaving them with HMA (hot mix asphalt) is commonplace today. It’s one of the most economical ways to bring a roadway back into an acceptable smooth ride condition. What’s more, it’s not only the major thoroughfares that need to be milled in order to bring an asphalt pavement back into specification. All types of asphalt pavements that have deteriorated must often be either milled or completely removed prior to repaving.
Pavement-milling projects are not necessarily extensive. Many small-size paving contractors who cater to the “no-job-too-small” say there are countless repaving projects that require the existing surface to be milled before the repaving process can commence. That can be good for the contractor, for it means additional business per project. Nevertheless, there is a host of potential problems associated with the milling process. Here is a short list of problems that can beleaguer many small paving contractors that are or want to get involved in milling-repaving projects.
- First and foremost, unlike the major roadway repaving projects that are usually carried out by the bigger paving contractors, many smaller contractors tend to pursue and get contracts for small projects such as suburban-area streets, small parking lots and short stretches of secondary roadways.
While the medium to large capacity cold planer milling machines are highly productive and fit the big road projects requirements for efficient milling, their footprint is often too large for the short and narrow areas to be milled on small projects. Then too, the big planers are costly to transport from one project site to the next, often requiring special road permits. These mobilization costs can hardly be justified for small milling projects that sometimes require a couple of hours to complete.
- There are contractors with compact cold planer milling machines that offer their milling services to other paving contractors, which is good. However, such contractors are few and far between, which is bad. In many areas of the country, the demand for compact milling machines is greater than the supply, which often results in poor milling services, including tardy deliveries of the milling machine. That usually holds up the contractor’s paving schedule.
- Some paving contractors consider buying their own milling machine to avoid all the above problems but consider the cost of its ownership too high.
While these problems can be obstructions for some contractors to either get into or stay in the milling business, there are others who have found ways around the obstacles.
A contractor overcomes
One contractor who has overcome the problems associated with milling is Chip Reid, president of Reid Paving Contractors Inc. He is highly motivated to make the milling services work for his company because there are fewer competitors, which has led to a very viable part of the company’s business.
During much of the past 10 years, he has experienced many of the downsides associated with milling and in recent years has eliminated these shortcomings, thus making this activity extraordinarily profitable.
Reid started his paving company in 1983. Since the beginning, he prefers to have one paving crew do all the company’s paving projects. By providing high quality paving services, the company has been very successful. Thanks to a good performance reputation, most of Reid Paving’s work is conducted within a 30-mile radius of the corporate headquarters in Gilbertsville, PA.
This year, 80 percent of the company’s revenue comes from the private sector and the balance from the public sector. The ratio of private- to public-business varies from year to year, depending on how much private work is available. If private work is down, Reid takes on more municipal and PennDOT projects.