Chicago Suburb Invests in Pavement Repair This Off-Season

Village of Winnetka uses 6-ton hot box to move away from cold mix, keeping crews busy year-round to perform long-lasting repairs

The Public Works Department team using its Falcon hot box and recycler to make repairs outside New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. Built to be slid into the bed of a truck, the Falcon unit is available in 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- or 10-ton capacities.
The Public Works Department team using its Falcon hot box and recycler to make repairs outside New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. Built to be slid into the bed of a truck, the Falcon unit is available in 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- or 10-ton capacities.

Winnetka, IL is one of the most affluent communities in Illinois, and one of the wealthiest in the United States, with a median household income above $250,000. Residents have very high expectations for the quality of services in the historic village, which has been the setting for many Hollywood feature films, including Home AloneRisky Business and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and his family were residents of Winnetka prior to moving to the Governor’s mansion in 2015, keeping the Village – and its roads – in the public spotlight.

 When Mike Mahoney, street supervisor for the Village of Winnetka, first began looking at asphalt repair equipment, he thought a 2-ton unit would fit the needs of 12,000 residents living the in Chicago suburb. But with more than 50 miles of roadway within the Village’s jurisdiction, and the nearest asphalt plant located 12 miles away, he determined they needed a second solution that could keep asphalt hot all day and reheat cookies for the occasional larger patching jobs.

“We looked at equipment for several years,” Mahoney says. “Volume was an issue, so having the 6-ton capacity was key. Being able to put it on a truck was huge, and the heat management system in the unit we purchased was superior to anything else we looked at.”

With traffic, a round trip to the asphalt plant can take up to three hours, so a large capacity was a determining factor in keeping crews productive all day. The village eventually chose the Falcon 6-ton Hot Box due to the unique grid design of the Falcon EvenTemp™ heat management system. The system uses a series of engineered baffles to heat the asphalt evenly throughout a massive 6-ton hopper.  

“The Falcon unit provides a crisper patch with better appearance,” Matt Deutsch, vice president at Midwest Paving Equipment, the local dealer in Glen Ellyn, Il that supports Winnetka’s equipment needs says. "By keeping asphalt hot all day at a consistent temperature, the Falcon hot box makes it easier to work with the material, providing time for proper site and pavement preparation to achieve a superior repair." 

Versatility Matters

The Village of Winnetka uses its hot box unit year-round, including daily use in the summer months when crews are primarily focused on street maintenance. Much of the focus is on repairing and maintaining Green Bay Road, a high-traffic thoroughfare that connects the wealthy North Shore communities of Chicago. 

Winnetka is also unique in the process that it uses to fill potholes. A dump truck is used to apply the base and then the Falcon unit is used to provide a 1-1.5-in. finish coat for a stronger patch with a better appearance. “I love it for that,” Mahoney says.

Another of the key advantages of the hot box is the ability to load it on any of the three Village trucks via a hook lift system. This provides the flexibility Winnetka’s Public Works Department needs for its team of eight maintenance workers. In addition to routine and preventative maintenance of the Village’s roadways, Public Works is also responsible for refuse collection, street sweeping, leaf collection, spring cleanup, snow and ice control and forestry services. 

“Unfortunately, every truck has a different voltage output,” Steve Konstanty, central region sales Manager at Falcon Asphalt Repair Equipmen says. "As a result, Winnetka was one of the first Falcon customers to pilot the patent-pending Voltage Indicator and Protector (VIP™) technology, which prevents the burner from operating below required voltage, protecting critical components from failure."

“This was a huge improvement over previous systems. We like everything Falcon has shown us so far,” Mahoney adds.

The company will continue to partner with the municipality on new products and upgrades for its existing unit. With its 6-ton Falcon unit providing hot asphalt whenever and wherever needed, the Village of Winnetka is paving the way to smoother roads for years to come.

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