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Rubber meets the road: scrap tire market development grant facilitates paving project in Dickinson County

June 27, 2019

Paving plant in Iron Mountain

The rubber meets the road on a stretch of County Road 607 in the Upper Peninsula where the durability of an unusual asphalt mix is being tested.

Experts from the Dickinson County Road Commission, Michigan Technological University (MTU), and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Scrap Tire Program are experimenting with asphalt mixes that include pieces of old rubber tires. They anticipate the test will show that asphalt using powderized tires as a key ingredient can hold up in cold climates. 

The EGLE Scrap Tire Grant Program provided half the cost -- or $325,000 -- of the $650,000 project, which used the equivalent of nearly 4,000 scrap tires.

"Our hopes are that this project will demonstrate that rubberized asphalt not only is smoother, quieter, and longer lasting than traditional asphalt, but can also be made economically," said Lance Malburg, an engineer with the Dickinson County Road Commission.

Asphalt Plus LLC and BAACO Construction Company paved three different road sections on the project. The ground tire powder was added to the asphalt at the plant. Known as a "dry" process, it is easier to control and monitor, and is less expensive than adding the rubber through the liquid asphalt. Using the powder also makes the process easier to duplicate by other asphalt contractors.

Three sections of road were paved for comparison and testing using:

  • Conventional hot mix asphalt base top layer.
  • Engineered crumb rubber hot mix asphalt base with conventional top layer.
  • Hot mix base with engineered crumb rubber as both the base and top layers.

The sections will be compared, monitored, and tested by MTU and the Road Commission, specifically watching for cold weather cracking resistance of the two asphalt mixes.

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