Roads paved in sustainability benefit everyone

“Your old road is rapidly agin’… for the times they are a-changin’.”

The immortal words of Bob Dylan from the 1960s have never been more true: our old roads are rapidly aging. Research by the Urban Institute indicates that average state and local spending on roads decreased by almost 25% from 1977 to 2016, while the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that vehicle miles traveled during that same time frame increased 125%. There is more pressure than ever on state and local governments to maintain today’s more heavily traveled roads with less money.

But the times are changing. Today’s road construction techniques have brought sustainability front and center through the recycling of asphalt and concrete paving and base materials. Figuratively, this practice has moved from the on-ramp into the fast lane. In addition to preserving natural resources, recycling can save money and reduce construction time.

Recycling takes roadway materials that have reached the end of their intended service through wear and deterioration or changes to alignment (i.e., the road needs to be moved) and capacity (i.e., the road needs to be expanded). The pavement surface and base materials are removed, broken down, processed and used as base material or subgrade improvement. This eliminates the need to import new material and avoids the disposal of the removed material.

Over the last several years, Hanson personnel have assisted San Patricio County, Texas, with a program to rehabilitate over 31 miles of road. Every project in the program features recycled asphalt paving and base material and has reused over 22,000 cubic yards of material so far — the equivalent of covering the county’s seven high school football fields from goal line to goal line up to the top of the pylons! That’s a lot of resources saved. And these savings extend to the project time and money for the drivers and tax payers of San Patricio County.

“By using recycled hot mix or sealcoat in roadway reconstruction, we realized a cost savings of over $1.7 million for the county,” John Hernandez, P.E., a transportation engineer at Hanson’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office, said.

Sustainability often is perceived to be solely within the domain of high-tech projects. At Hanson, our hands-on approach brings the benefits of sustainability to everyday projects like road rehabilitation. We think Bob Dylan would be proud.

For more information about recycling roadway materials, contact John Hernandez at jhernandez@hanson-inc.com.