Conveyers at the City of Calgary's asphalt plant, where the mix travels up into the machines. Workers will then push the mix through to make sure it does not jam. Photo by Michelle Hofer/For CREB®Now

Concrete concoction

Asphalt plant part of Doors Open YYC initiative

Imagine getting a chance to meet the chefs behind our roads – the cooks who concoct the cement that lie beneath our feet?

It’s part of a unique behind-the-scenes opportunity for Calgarians, who will get a chance to visit the City of Calgary’s asphalt plant as part of the fourth annual Doors Open YYC event later this month.

Located just off 25th Avenue S.E., the plant is one of 42 sites participating in the citywide initiative, scheduled for Sept 26 to 27.

“We felt that it was extremely important for Calgarians to showcase how the City of Calgary operates, how professional and qualified our staff are, how we spend taxpayer dollars and to show Calgarians and visitors how the City is conscientious of the environment while delivering service,” said Slawa Gruszczynska, cultural diversity co-ordinator in charge of co-ordinating all of the City of Calgary sites for Doors Open YYC.

Organizing committee member Alyssa Berry added the plant trip, along with all of the Doors Open YYC sites, provide the perfect way to be a tourist in your own city.

“I think it’s really important to connect with your city on a different level. Getting a sense of how your city works and getting insider access is really interesting,” said Berry.

The asphalt plant produces and supplies asphalt for a variety of uses throughout the city for both the City of Calgary and local contractors. These include surface overlay, residential paving, pothole repairs and some mixes for water services such as asphalt for an emergency repair of a leaky pipe.

The plant can produce as much as 220 tonnes per hour and makes, on average, 1,700 tonnes in a day, based on the demand.

The process has the aggregates, (which are mined from Spyhill Landfill) go into large bins where a gas dryer takes out all of the moisture and heats them to 310 F. The plant then makes a “recipe” for how much sand and cement it needs to create the batch of asphalt.

After going through a mixer, it is then either put onto a truck for immediate delivery or stored in a large silo so it’s ready for the morning pickup.

“This year, on the tour, we are going to go on the one side [of the plant] and show people what the mixer parts look like so they can see each component,” said senior plants leader Dan Schinnour.

“They can see the driveway where the trucks are coming through and they can see the dryer turning.”

This busy plant has only three to four employees who work year-round to ensure that even winter’s harshest weather doesn’t affect our infrastructure.

Registration as part of the Doors Open YYC event is not required. Tours will be on a first-come, first-served basis Sept 26 to 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each tour includes a 10-minute escorted walk, 25-minute tour and 10-minute return walk.

The plant is located at 2808 Spiller Rd. S.E., South Roads Tower. The tour begins from the Roads building located on Spiller Road just off 25th Avenue S.E.

For more information, go to doorsopenyyc.org.

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