WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - Fresh, asphalt hot mix straight from the plant is 400 degrees. Add this to a 100-degree heat index and work conditions start to sizzle.
Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews work around the clock to keep our roadways safe regardless of the weather.
George Keridler started working with TxDOT 5 years ago
"If you put your hand down there. You probably couldn't even hold your hand down there. It'll burn you," Keridler said.
A strip of roadway along Loop 11 near U.S. 287 was resurfaced the beginning of July when temperatures were in the upper 90s. But that's not the hottest part of the job.
"So all the heat that you're actually feeling, Keridler said, "When it's first laid down all that's going up to all those people on top of these machines."
He said he would rather have a job outside even with the heat.
"I can't work inside. I've got to work outside. I've got to be our here. I love it. Knowing we did a good job and knowing we're providing the public with safe highways. That's a reward all in itself," Keridler said.
Over time water will wear away the asphalt, leaving cracks, and potentially dangerous roads. That is when Keridler and TxDOT maintenance crews come into play even during the heat of summer.
"That's the purpose of staying hydrated," Keridler said.
Even the hard hat is designed for the heat.
"There's a lot of thought that went into it. The reason it's white because it reflects heat. The reason it has the wide brim on it; it keeps the sun off of your ears and then these little skirts we wear it keeps it off our neck and stuff," Keridler said.
A newly paved road also needs a little cool down before anyone can drive on it.
"Usually it's a couple of hours by the time we work our way down from where we started up there. They'll go back and check it and then if it's still hot we'll go over it with a water track and put water on it to cool it down even more and it has a lot to do with how hot it is that day," Keridler said
Keridler said he has seen several cars avoid the cones, and drive on the hot mix before it's ready.
"If a car drives through it then we get them tire marks in it and they don't always come out. And if you've got tire marks there's a bump you're driving on from now on," Keridler said.
Sometimes the damage requires another repair job.
"Be more aware of when we are out here on the road. Remember we want to go home too. And read the signs and pay attention to the cones. Just be more aware of us," Keridler said.