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In 2010, a consortium including Colas secured the 40-year concession contract for a 104-km (65 mi) portion of Highway A63 in the Landes region of southwestern France. The contract included the design, financing, construction, maintenance, and operation of the motorway until 2051.


Founded in 1984, Colas SOUTH WEST is a subsidiary of Colas Group. Colas SOUTH WEST has a network of 65 agencies totaling 3,600 employees, 31 quarries spread over 18 departments of southwestern France, with 25 stationary asphalt plants and two mobile plants for the production of hot-mix asphalt (HMA). 


The construction of A63, entrusted to the consortium Atlandes, included project leader Colas SOUTH WEST charged with upgrading Former Route RN10 to current motorway and environmental standards. This meant widening the 6-lane roadway to improve user safety and service. Located on a major European axis linking the Iberian Peninsula to the rest of Europe, it is traveled daily by 30,000 vehicles, of which 30 percent are heavy vehicles. The project, mobilizing 800 to 1,200 people, began in September 2011 with delivery by June 2014. They planned the installation of 1.2 million tons (1.4 million tonnes) of bituminous mixes (produced out of three asphalt plants), containing up to 30-percent recycled aggregate products. The challenge was to do the work, while keeping the road open for traffic flow. 

Colas SOUTH WEST invested in Astec’s Portable Six Pack® facility with the Double Barrel® drum mixer for RAP on the move.


According to Colas SOUTH WEST equipment manager Alan Thouvenot, the magnitude of the infrastructure project required a portable and durable asphalt plant. “We contacted Astec and reviewed their asphalt plants. We made the decision in September 2010 to purchase the Astec Six Pack® HMA facility with a portable 7 ft x 35 ft (2.13 m x 10.67 m) Double Barrel® drum mixer with a capacity of 300 TPH (272 MTPH) with aggregates at 3 percent moisture.”

The plant was inspected at the Astec workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by Alain Thouvenot and Colas SOUTH WEST equipment manager Jean-Claude Arolfo in December 2010. The plant was designed to meet the second category of road transport limitations in France, especially the self-erectable 90-ton (82 tonne) bin.

The plant components included:  

  • Portable 10 ft x 12 ft (3.05 m x 3.65 m) four-bin cold feed system    
  • Portable 30 in x 60 ft (76 cm x 18.29 m) inclined conveyor
  • Portable 7 ft (2.13 m) Double Barrel® drum mixer
  • Whisper Jet® 75 MBTU/hr oil/gas burner
  • Portable 52,264 CFM Express Baghouse with inertial dust separator  
  • Portable Self-Erecting 90-ton (82 tonne) Surge Bin 
  • 350 BBL (40 m3) dry additive system 
  • Portable recycle feed (RAP) system with lump breaker and self-erecting conveyor 

The bitumen tanks were supplied by a local manufacturer. Electricity and plant controls were entrusted to Astec’s agent Mix Process in France.


On its arrival in France, the plant was first set up as a test in a Colas SOUTH WEST depot. The plant was then moved to two different sites for two small jobs consisting of 10,000 tons (9,071 tonnes) and 14,000 tons (12,700 tonnes) before being moved in September 2011 to a site in Pissos for the construction of A63.

Kevin Riviere, plant manager, handled the plant’s relocation to the different sites. “The plant is very easy to set up; it comes apart and is back up very quickly,” said Riviere.

After two years of production for A63, the Astec Colas SOUTH WEST plant produced a total of 534,620 tons (485,000 tonnes) of asphalt, including 468,482 tons (425,000 tonnes) with 30 percent RAP (reclaimed asphalt pavement) for undercoats and wear coats.

“It’s easy to recycle with the Astec plant, up to 50 percent RAP with no problem, and when the materials are not too wet, it can produce 330 TPH (300 MTPH) with 30 percent RAP,” noted Riviere.

Riviere especially liked the Astec Double Barrel® drum mixer and the cleanliness in the area of drying materials, the access to the burner, and the ease of maintenance of the mixing zone through the door. The possibility of heating up the baghouse in the morning before the start was also a plus.

Alain Thouvenot, equipment manager, added: “The concept of the Astec Double Barrel® is new for Colas in France. It allows high rates of recycling and the flame is not in contact with reclaimed asphalt or bitumen. With the introduction of reclaimed asphalt and bitumen outside the drying of materials, the drum provides low VOC emissions.”

The A63 project was completed seven months ahead of schedule.