A MOVE from deputy mayor Jeff Whitton for Orange City Council to open a hot mix asphalt plant to solve the city’s pothole woes would not be viable, according to an industry insider.
Unlike the traditional spray seal bitumen, hot mix asphalt provides a smoother, harder-wearing road surface.
At present, council sources asphalt from Boral’s Dubbo plant and Downer’s Bathurst plant but Cr Whitton will ask council to look at costs of opening an asphalt plant in Orange, with support from Cr Glenn Taylor.
A plant in Orange operated by Boral closed two years ago.
“One of the major excuses for keeping up with the maintenance program is the unavailability of contractors doing other work, so all of a sudden you can’t get access to the product,” Cr Whitton said.
“It’s a sensible idea to have our own plant to provide product to the region’s councils and we could sell it to other organisations.”
But an asphalt worker, who declined to be named, said the set-up costs would be unviable for council, and the region did not need another plant as the industry was “dead quiet”.
“You need the plant, the material and an environmentally safe place to put it,” he said.
“Then you’ve got to source the bitumen and that’s getting very hard, you’re at the mercy of petroleum companies.”
He said the supply of bitumen would dry-up further when the Kurnell refinery closed next year, crippling NSW asphalt companies and forcing them to buy bitumen from as far away as Queensland, adding to freight costs.
“I get disappointed driving on the roads as well, but coming from the industry you could put an asphalt plant there but they’re not going to make any money,” he said.
“They’re better off going the way they’re going.”
While he acknowledged hot mix asphalt was a superior product to spray bitumen, he said many road surface failures were caused by bitumen that was not laid correctly.
Council spokesman Nick Redmond said the decision to open a hot mix plant would come back to the economic viability of the facility.
A Boral spokesman declined to comment.