Summer is quickly coming to a close and soon the Minnesota State Fair will come and go and the leaves will begin to change color. This means that winter is fast approaching, and as Minnesotans, we must be realistic when it comes to planning for the winter. Scheduling projects in the construction industry is a universal struggle, and it becomes even more difficult when you mix in freezing temperatures and precipitation (yes, this means snow). In the world of asphalt paving, cold temperatures create several safety and quality issues when installing bituminous. How do we work together, to ensure the project results meet the customer’s standards, while keeping our crews safe and equipment operational?
In the world of general contracting and new construction, asphalt companies are normally the last contractor on the job site. This makes it rather difficult for them to complete the project if timelines have been pushed back by other contractors. It’s especially difficult if temperatures have already started to plummet. Here is a list of items we consider, when in this position:
1) Is it Safe for Our Staff?
Installing asphalt in Minnesota is a seasonal job. Laborers work in the hot, blinding sun in mid-July to the colder months of late-October and early November. Paving in the snow is not out of the question and has happened in the past. However, safety is critical to our mission and for BR, we need to look out for our employees. Is it too cold for them to safely perform their job? Will the cold affect the operational condition of the equipment and put staff in harm’s way?
2) Is it Safe to Run Equipment?
When temperatures are starting to reach the freezing range, it can be extremely hard on equipment. Hoses can burst, liquids will freeze, and it simply does not create a good working environment for staff.
3) What About the Quality of the Asphalt?
Asphalt mix is always best installed hot. While hot, asphalt is flexible and workable, allowing our crews to place and shape the asphalt with ease. As asphalt cools, it becomes stiffer and difficult to work with, causing issues with drainage, density and visual appeal. If projects are running into late-October and November, the colder temperatures will cause the asphalt to cool quicker, giving the crews less time to ensure they are building a quality pavement. Will the crew have time to achieve the best density of the asphalt? Will they have time to ensure that one area with tight drainage is correct? What kind of project outcome is likely based on these conditions?
Since the weather is unpredictable, it’s hard for asphalt contractors to really know when that “final day” of paving will be. However, one piece of advice we can offer to any of our customers is to keep in mind the situation cold weather paving brings to our business and the potential effects it may have on the end product. We fully understand the nature of construction and scheduling issues that arise. But if we can work together on a decision to move forward, or not, on a cold weather paving project, perhaps it will create a better outcome for everyone.
Contact Bituminous Roadways Today
For more than 70 years, Bituminous Roadways has been paving Twin Cities roadways, parking lots and trails. It’s our experience that equates to quality outcomes with any paving project. If you are in need of an asphalt contractor, contact us today at 651-686-7001 or request a consultation online.