Rubber roads first piqued our interest when we learned that simply adding recycled tires to an asphalt mixture increases road durability, extending the life of the pavement by 30 percent more and reducing maintenance needs over the life of the road, such as filling cracks. Reducing maintenance needs is an important target because it limits time Georgia DOT employees have to spend working on dangerous, high-speed interstates. Other benefits include reduced road noise and improved water management. The rubber in the asphalt binder is strong and resilient enough to use semi-porous or more porous pavements, where the rock in the pavement is fitted more loosely together, allowing water to drain through the pavement and off the sides of the highway. This keeps water from pooling on the surface of the highway during rains storms where it can cause splashback onto cars; windshields, obscuring drivers’ view and causing vehicles to hydroplane. Reusing scrap tires can also help control public health dangers related to tire dumps, tire fires and breeding groups for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
In 2019, the first mile of interstate lanes on The Ray, starting at the Georgia-Alabama state line and including the parking lot of the rest area, was paved with asphalt that contains rubber from 3,520 recycled scrap tires. That’s 42,240 pounds of rubber out of the landfill and into the road.
In March, 2018, The Ray, Troup County & C.W. Matthews partnered to pave the new Tom Hall Parkway that runs adjacent to The Ray with a rubberized asphalt mix. The project used over 32,000 pounds of recycled tire rubber (RTR) in the top layer or “wearing course” of the road, which represents the rubber taken from over 2,500 end of life passenger tires.
Higher concentrations of recycled tire rubber in asphalt projects around the country have returned even better results, and we look forward to testing a 20 percent “asphalt rubber” mix near The Ray in the future.
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