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Recycling asphalt brings new life to crumbling roads

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 24 2011 3:29 p.m. MDT

Recycling a road in Saratoga Springs

Marc Weaver, Deseret News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Utah Department of Transportation is replacing an old highway with old highway.

It's a fairly new process, known as road recycling, and contractors say the process saves money while cutting down on the use of oil.

Usually, when the road needs to be replaced, road crews tear out the asphalt, haul it off and put new materials in.

UDOT has started using a process that it says costs less and is more environmentally friendly.

It just pull up the road and then put it back down. A small caravan of trucks and steamrollers pull up old highway and then lay it right back down.

"We're basically taking up the old road, adding line and asphalt emulsion, and putting it back down,” Trent Webb with Construction Material Recycling explained.

Portions of state Road 73 between Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain are being repaved using this technique. It used to be cheaper to throw out the old and bring in the new, but when the oil prices went up and the asphalt prices went up, it became more enticing for the state’s agencies to look at it, Webb said.

UDOT saves about a third of the cost by reusing old road. It still has to add new oil to the mix, but not nearly as much as before. That’s because there is still good oil in the asphalt, Webb said.

The job takes three large trucks and a steamroller to pull up, clean the road, lay it down, add oil and repaved. Contractors say it’s a relatively quick process. “If the state chose to, they could put traffic on this in four to six hours,” Webb said.

UDOT will use the road recycling method in mostly rural areas where it's difficult and expensive to bring new materials in.

It still plan to do things the old way in more populated areas, because it says it's faster in getting cars back on the road.

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