California Cities Recycle Old Asphalt Back Into New Road: A Cheaper, Greener Pothole Fix

road repair photo

Road being repaired the old (slower, more polluting, more expensive) way
Image: Grand Canyon NPS

A green technique for pothole repair is on the rise in California: "Cold In-Place Recycling" is not all that new, but the Bay Area has been adopting it in recent months, from San Francisco up to Napa and down to Gilroy. CIR is a repaving technology that pulverizes existing pavement, mixes it with additives, and recycles it directly back into new road surfacing.

It emits 131,000 fewer pounds of CO2 per mile of road compared with conventional hot asphalt, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Commission report on potholes, and can be up to half off the usual cost.Resurfacing usually involves removing six inches of road and replacing it with new asphalt, whereas CIR only removes the upper two to four inches, which is ground and mixed with emulsifying agents in place. It can also be finished within a day, rather than a week or more for normal resurfacing projects.

The Gilroy Dispatch reports how much the city saved by going with CIR: "Resurfacing a road normally would cost $200,000, according to David Stubchaer, City of Gilroy senior civil engineer. But the Cold-In-Place Recycling method used on Rossi Lane cost Gilroy $120,000, he said."

The North Bay Business Journal, meanwhile, said that CIR costs about $30 to $40 per installed ton, versus $75 to $100 for traditional methods.

That savings could be even greater if asphalt costs rise as raw materials become pricier.

The best part? The material can be recycled over and over again.

More on green asphalt:
Bike Trail Being Paved With Asphalt Made From Plants Instead of Oil
Peak Asphalt: Why We Are Running Out Of The Stuff
Vinyl and Asphalt are Green at Greenbuild
Dutch Company Siphoning Heat from Asphalt for Energy Uses

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