We’re all familiar with recycling things like glass bottles and building materials, but what about interstate highways? The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to do just that. A 3.7 mile stretch of Interstate 81 is in need of repair, but instead of using conventional methods that tear up the road and lay down new asphalt, the DOT is combing three road recycling techniques that will reuse the materials already in place. The project will save millions of dollars, take two-thirds less time, and drastically cut carbon emissions associated with construction.

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Transportation officials said that if traditional methods were used, the construction project would cost up to $40 million and take up to two years. Using the recycling techniques, the project will only cost $7.6 and be completed in eight months. Both southbound lanes need repairing, with the right lane, which sees the most traffic, needing repairs all the way down through its foundation. The 12-inch foundation will be recompacted, and the 12-inch layer of asphalt will be torn up and pulverized in an on-site machine. Then it will be strengthened and reapplied. The asphalt layer in the left lane will be treated the same way. The only new asphalt will be the fresh surface coating applied to both lanes. The project is believed to be the first to use the different recycling procedures in combination.

Not only does the method save materials, but it drastically cuts carbon emissions because less construction vehicles are needed. Old materials do not have to be trucked away, and new materials do not have to be transported to the site. Plus, there is no need to widen the road because the techniques can work in a narrower space. To top it off, the shorter construction time frame means less traffic jams creating large amounts of emissions.

So far, the only potential complication reported by the DOT or the contractor is the chance of bad weather. If the road recycling technologies are as successful as expected for I-81, we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a wider implementation of the techniques. After all, the method is faster, cheaper, and greener. What’s not to like?

Via Clean Technica

Images © Virginia Department of Transportation