The blending of tire-derived crumb rubber into an asphalt paving mix on a 7.3-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in Nebraska appears to be a success when it comes to producing a smooth road surface.
However, state highway officials and a contractor say time and weather-particularly Nebraska's cold, wet winters with numerous freezing and thawing cycles-will determine whether the pilot project, completed Sept. 27, also meets the goal of creating a longer lasting roadway. Tests on the project, which used 47,000 scrap tires, indicate the second goal appears realistic.
The contractor for the project, Dobson Brothers Construction, expects the material to produce a long-lasting pavement, based on roadway tests and lab analyses, said Jim Jewell, asphalt operations manager for Dobson Brothers. If the test projections are borne out, he said, the rubber-asphalt mix could last 15 to 20 years, double the average life of conventional asphalt.
The initial results are promising enough that the Department of Roads is planning more paving projects with the crumb rubber-asphalt mix for next year, said Robert C. Rea, pavement design engineer for the Nebraska Department of Roads.
The cost of the recycled tire mix is between 10 percent to 20 percent higher than conventional asphalt, Mr. Rea said. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $420,700 grant to cover the extra expenses of developing and testing the rubber-asphalt mix for the I-80 resurfacing project.