WASHINGTON Rubberized asphalt is an ``experimental'' technology offering no better-and sometimes worse-quality than conventional asphalt at a much higher cost, a commission of state and local government officials reported Jan. 5. A spokesman for the Rubber Pavements Association said his organization was ``disappointed'' in the report and now is drafting a detailed rebuttal.
The 26-member U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) applauded the repeal of Section 1038(d) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.
This provision required states to use an increasing percentage of rubberized asphalt in federally funded highway projects.
Created by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act last year, the ACIR was directed to review existing federal mandates on state and local governments for possible reform or repeal.
Section 1038(d), the report said, was a prime example of an onerous unfunded mandate. But the AICR went further, criticizing asphalt rubber itself.
``(T)he construction industry had concerns about both the integrity of the pavements and the life-cycle maintenance costs of crumb-rubber-mix asphalt,'' the report said. ``Research has not shown any improved life of asphalt pavements using rubber, while the costs double.
``This provision mandated a particular engineering approach that is still experimental and has unresolved environmental, health and safety issues. In a few states, highway projects have failed due to crumb rubber use.''
The ACIR is now accepting comments on its report; the final version is due in March.