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Extreme heat: The work must go on

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At 279 degrees, freshly laid asphalt is hot enough to fry an egg. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

How hot is it? Well, when it comes to paving, asphalt comes out of the dump truck at 305 degrees.

The transfer machine mixes it up and delivers it via conveyor belt to the paver. Two workers stand on the back of the paver inches above the laid asphalt that has now “cooled” to 279 degrees—that’s still hot enough for an egg to start cooking as soon as it hits the asphalt.

Crewman Alvin Turner, who has been paving 15 years, said they used to heat up food by wrapping it in aluminum foil, placing it at the edge of the freshly laid pavement and covering it with a little asphalt for a few minutes.

The crewmen of Lee Hy Paving are accustomed to heat—they have to be. Even in July and the hottest part of the summer, they work 14 hour days, starting at 5 a.m. and going until the edge of darkness.

Foreman Junior Long said the men have to pace themselves in extreme weather temperatures that approach triple digits, as they did last week.

Heat is a necessary part of laying asphalt, said Long, 55, who has been paving for 34 years. “This stuff (asphalt) is made to work in the heat,” he said, as the crew worked a section of Route 198 at Cobbs Creek in Mathews County. “You get the best job when it’s hot.”

Read more about the heat in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 07.24.2013

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