Black Gold: How does local blacktop get made?

VESTAL, N.Y. - When the weather heats up, more people are out about and want to get to their destination on time.

Around this time of year, street crews are out paving the roads to keep drivers moving forward.

In the first of a 2-part series, NewsChannel 34's Mike Tanzini shows us how a local plant produces blacktop to fill the cracks of the Southern Tier.

A truckload full of blacktop is heading out of Broome Bituminous in Vestal to pave and patch roads throughout Greater Binghamton.

Before it's dumped into the truck, the ingredients for a perfect batch of black top need to be prepped.

It starts with three different sized stones that are mixed with sand.

"Sand is in all of the mixes. Your base courses have larger stones in them, about an inch and a half to 2-inch stones. Your finer tops, like a heavily-traveled roadway uses a 3/4 quarter inch stone," said Vice President Dan Gates.

It's dried and heated up in a huge mixing container, before taking a ride up the conveyer.

The stones are sorted by size and sit in a silo, until it is ready to be mixed into blacktop.

Broome Bituminous Vice President Dan Gates says the recipe has never really changed.

"Engineers are constantly tweaking it to make it better. But, in the last 2,000 years, it hasn't changed a whole lot. They found some tar a few thousand years ago and mixed it with aggregate and that's what the ancient Romans used to make roads," said Gates.

At the touch of a button, an automated system measures out how much material is needed for a load.

It's then mixed with piping hot oil where it becomes its true form.

In addition to using rocks and material, Broome Bituminous uses the roadway of yesterday.

The plant uses something old to make something new. 

It utilizes Recycled Asphalt Product (RAP), or old pieces of dug up roadway that's trucked here and crushed.  

It's then reincorporated into the production plant to create new asphalt.

The plant operates from April to mid-November, before calling it quits for the winter.

There's usually a line of trucks waiting patiently for their chance to refill.

There are two separate filling stations that make the plant run smoothly.

With a lot of roads to pave and only a few months to get it done, the 300-degree blacktop becomes the hottest commodity of the summer.

Broome Bituminous produces around 2,000 tons of blacktop in a single day.

Tomorrow, Mike rides with a paving crew to lay down the blacktop on a street in Apalachin.


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