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Roof to road might be the way to go

By Ann Knoedler

I received my Fall 2010 Recycling and Waste Reduction newsletter in the mail the other day from the Milwaukee Department of Public Works. Being the recycling geek that I am, I sat right down and read the four-page missive from cover to cover.

There were the usual reminders and helpful hints for proper recycling procedures plus an informational section showing what the recycled products are made into.

There is a lot of good information packed into those four pages — even the opportunity to win a compost bin.

But what really caught my eye was a new recycling program that Milwaukee implemented not too long ago — one that affects our roads and potentially our cars.

It’s called the “Asphalt Shingle Recycling Program,” by which roofing shingles are recovered and recycled into hot mix asphalt. Of course, it’s fantastic just for the fact that it’s one more way to reduce waste going to landfills, which always warms the cockles of my heart.

These few words grabbed my attention: “using recycled asphalt shingles in new pavement has been shown to improve resistance to wear and moisture; and decrease deformation, rutting and cracking.”

I’m sure this isn’t anything new to those familiar with the science of “roofing to roads,” but I was thrilled to learn about it.

Too good to be true? I have questions: How widespread is the use of this new and improved hot mix asphalt in Wisconsin? Does it really live up to the claims offered in my recycling newsletter? And if this new asphalt has an improved resistance to wear and moisture, are municipalities and the Department of Transportation seeing this reflected in their road maintenance budgets?

It’s an exciting future for roads and budgets if the claims are accurate.

With the decrease in rutting and cracking (potholes), can I also look forward to smoother trips in my car leading to fewer expensive trips to my mechanic to fix struts and bearings?

I’m counting on it.

Ann Knoedler is the lead data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She recycled this blog shortly after writing it.

2 comments

  1. “And if this new asphalt has an improved resistance to wear and moisture, are municipalities and the Department of Transportation seeing this reflected in their road maintenance budgets?”

    Ultimately. The information stated that this procedure is used in NEW roads. Obviously you don’t need to start maintaining new roads until quite a few years down the road. Don’t start doing the number crunching now or you will be disappointed

  2. Good point James – thanks for the clarification. It does sound like a good use of recycled products

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