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Road milling machine to be purchased

The Town of Tonawanda plans to spend more than $400,000 to buy a machine for doing road work that traditionally has been contracted out.

A bond resolution for the purchase of a cold milling machine was approved at last week's Town Board meeting.

"It's a giant leap forward for us," Highway Superintendent William E. Swanson told lawmakers at their work session last week. "Each year we're spending a lot of money hiring a private company."

Swanson said he had budgeted $112,000 for this year.

"All communities in Western New York have a private company come in and do it," Swanson said. The town will be the first in the region to have its own machine.

In the current municipal bond market, Swanson said, the town would pay a little more than $6,300 in interest on the five-year $450,000 bond.

The machine grinds up the road surface and transports the "millings" via a conveyer belt to a truck. The deeper the road is milled, the more it costs, Swanson explained.

The town has been paying a contractor $1.84 per square yard, at a depth of two inches. Doubling the depth would double the price, Swanson said.

Among the benefits of owning such a machine, which will be operated by trained town employees, is the ability to mill deeper to produce longer-lasting results.

Town roads traditionally have been milled to a depth of two inches and needed to be redone after five or six years, Swanson said. Milling to a depth of four to six inches before rebuilding the road should make it last 20 years.

"It depends on what's underneath the road. If the base isn't good, it's not going to last," Swanson said.

Road bases are made of stone and tar. If a base is in good condition, only two inches of milling is needed before applying a new layer of asphalt.

The town will be able to sell its millings to receive a discounted price on new materials from suppliers. Millings can be recycled, but for the town to recycle its own would involve additional materials and machinery, Swanson said.

"It would cost a lot," he added.