Aging equipment slows county work



November 2, 2011 - 12:00 AM

The secondary unit of the rock crusher at Allen County’s quarry was on the fritz Tuesday, a common occurrence of late.
Bill King, director of Public Works, told commissioners Tuesday morning frequent downtime had severely cut road and pea rock production to about half of what he would like.
“We’ve crushed about 100,000 tons each of the last two years,” he said. “I’d like it to be about 200,000 tons.”
Road rock, less than 1 1/2 inches in diameter, is used in maintenance and repair of the county’s 900-plus miles of unpaved roads. Smaller dimension pea rock is used in chip-and-seal maintenance of hard-surfaced roads and mixed with salt to treat paved roads following ice and snow storms.
King will look into availability of secondary crushing units.
“We have 20,000 to 30,000 tons of road rock going into winter,” King told the Register during a visit to the quarry Tuesday afternoon. “I’d like to have 80,000 tons,” to be sure supply was sufficient to meet any repair demands that surfaced.
The county has about 5,000 tons of pea rock in reserve and will go into winter with about 150 tons of salt, including 125 tons due to arrive in a few weeks. Salt is spread only on unpaved roads.

THE SECONDARY crusher works in tandem with the primary to crush rock blasted from walls of the quarry.
Initially, rock in large chunks is crushed to the 1 ½ inches road rock size. That goes through a screening process, with over-sized pieces going on to the secondary crusher for reduction to 5/16 of inch, pea rock size.
“We bought the crusher in 1993 for $500,000,” King said.
The main unit was new and the secondary was 10 years old then.
Quarrying rock and crushing it to suitable size for maintenance and repairs to county roads is a financial advantage to the county, King said, and “is a win-win situation for us.”
Not only is the rock much cheaper than it would be if purchased commercially, but the quarrying process open areas each year that eventually will be used for landfill space.
“We’ve been quarrying and landfilling for about 40 years and we have a lot of years left” on the site just southeast of LaHarpe, King said.
The county owns 240 acres. Half or a little more of available rock has been mined.

AS AN ASIDE commissioners said Tuesday the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had released its legal hold on a $1 million landfill closure fund the county had maintained for years.
The money will continue to be held in escrow, but its eventual expenditure alone will be decided by county commissioners.

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