This mechanical dinosaur – which is actually about the length of a Tyrannosaurus Rex – is lumbering along 3rd St. S. in downtown Minneapolis chewing up and spitting out asphalt. The 30+ ton behemoth is called a cold planer, and it’s integral to the “mill and overlay” procedure.
The process is simple – although it requires a lot of heavy machinery. The old, pockmarked surface is scraped away. Then another crew of workers apply a new, fresh layer of blacktop that is squished into place by steamrollers.
At the risk of sounding like an infrastructure-nerd, I really like a good mill and overlay. What’s not to like? It makes a street look neat and tidy and it feels great to drive or ride a bike over. Plus, city officials say it extends the life of the road by 10 years.
Several other major downtown streets are on the cold planer’s menu this summer as well. Check the city’s website for details and maps.