Indiana county purchases its own asphalt plant

Daviess County has now become the second county in Indiana with its own asphalt plant.

The county paid $500 for the plant and another $11,000 to have nine semis haul it to Washington.

The plant was originally purchased by the federal government for $1.4 million in the 1990s. It had been used at Fort Leonardwood, Kansas, as training equipment for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Because it was used for training, it has not had nearly the use of a regular asphalt plant and it is in really good shape,” said Daviess County highway superintendent Phil Cornelius.

Daviess County now joins Jasper County in northern Indiana as the only counties that have their own asphalt plants.

“We are going to talk with them about some of the things we will have to get done to make this operational,” said Cornelius. “In particular, we will talk with them about the permits we will have to obtain.”

The asphalt plant may be a bargain, but it is a long way from being a turn-key operation. The county has a long list of things to do to get it operational. Some of those things are already in progress.

“It’s a big operation,” said Cornelius. “I’m sure we will need some assistance. I’ve reached out to the company to get some training. We may have to hire someone from the industry to operate and maintain it.

“You have to weigh all of that out. Right now it heats the asphalt with a diesel burner, but we may be able to get that converted to natural gas. But we’d have to get Vectren to run the gas line to us. All of that needs to be worked out and have a pencil put to it so that we can save as much as we can.”

Putting the plant back together may be a slow process. The county does not anticipate having the asphalt plant working this year.

“I don’t think we will even use it a lot next year,” said Daviess County Highway Engineer Jason Heile. “It should get a lot of action after that, and once it is running we will run out of money for materials long before we run out of capacity to make asphalt.”

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