Saving by Using

Oct. 20, 2014

Recycled materials for making good roads have proved their value many times worldwide. In most industrial sectors, recycling has never really achieved any great respect. There have been countless jokes about the advocates of recycling and it has seldom had the appeal of the latest technologies (and all the insiders’ initials that accompany them to confuse us). For several years now, using recycled materials and aggregate for building and maintaining roads has moved along, often unpraised, and it has saved public and private owners millions of dollars. It’s not a new technology, and it doesn’t need to be, because it has worked so well with accepted techniques and equipment. If anything has shot the use of recycled materials for roadbuilding forward it is the improvement in the milling of the material from existing roads.

The number of roadways where recycled asphalt is used for repair or replacement seems to be growing steadily, as owners appreciate the savings and good sense involved. The Athens-Atlanta Asphalt Co. Ltd. has some interesting comments on its website. “In most cases, reclaimed asphalt is used immediately after processing to replace the deteriorated pavement on roadways,” says this experienced Atlanta company. “This eliminates the removal process and probably cuts costs by 25% to 50%. It also reduces the need for additional trucks to carry new material to the site. That can mean significant savings in fuel costs, labor, and truck maintenance.”

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Credit: Volvo
A milling machine with trucks is a fast way to start rebuilding roads A main objection to anything recycled is that it won’t have the same strength and performance of materials that are not recycled. That’s just not true of asphalt. Recycled asphalt tends to be longer lasting than the original mixture and has better resistance to water. The old asphalt is beaten down and mixed with cement and water, a mixture that causes the new material to bind together well. One area where recycled asphalt mixtures have won acclaim is in bridge repair, with evidence that the new bridge pavement will last considerably longer than the old. Some observers have said that pavements of recycled asphalt show better resistance to rutting and cracking (those nightmares of the public works department) because they can contain organic fibers and mineral fillers from the shingles used in preparation of the material. Mixing gravel with recycled shingles has been popular for rural roads because it seems to produce less dust and less gravel.