Recycling paves the way for new roads

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 02:04:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County has more than 2000 miles of roads. That’s enough to drive from San Diego and across the country to Florida. But, as you might have witnessed, too many of those roads are in bad shape. District 3 County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar is researching a way to create new roads from old ones through recycling.

"These are actual cores of a roadway that (have) been recycled," said Don Matthews, chief engineer at Pavement Recycling Systems.

In his hands, a chunk of the recycled road as he said, "It's cold recycled. We cored it out of one of the state highway projects."

It seems like everyone is in the recycling business these days. So why not try roads? That's the question District 3 County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar is considering while touring this pavement recycling lab near Riverside.

"Where we don't want to be is where it is today. And that's at a 60," says Gaspar talking about San Diego’s County’s poor grade of roads.

A recent study shows the Pavement Condition Index, or PCI score, or for our county roads is 60%. It's not a good number.

We wouldn't accept that from our student in college - and Gaspar won't accept that grade for our county roads.

"I was really disappointed," Gaspar said.

That's why she's working with Pavement Recycling Systems. A company that's found success in recycling existing materials, while using less oil, with fewer trucks, and avoiding the need to scar more of the landscape by mining for rock.

"So, to be innovative is really important especially when dealing with roads," Gaspar said, weighing the option of using this type of repaving in the future. "Because the scenario is, pay now, or pay more later."

The cost may be more initially, but it could mean significant savings in the long run. The roads would last longer and paving them would require fewer materials. Los Angeles County has used the same method in a third of its country roads.

“We're not going to have a big check coming in from Sacramento every year to help us find our way out of this situation, so we need to be more innovative, less complacent,” Gaspar said.

The same recycling system was used for a project in Moreno Valley in 2009. At the time the city saved over $260,000, cutting 30% of the original project timeline because the recycled project was more efficient.