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Source: The Ukiah Daily Journal (September 7, 2007--Page 1)

Headline: RECYCLING TIRES AS ROAD FILL
Subhead: 165,000 tires shoring up Marina Drive

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal

In an effort to permanently solve landslide problems, a 160-foot section of roadway on Marina Drive is being rebuilt with a novel new source of fill material: tire-derived aggregate made from shredded car tires. The California Integrated Waste Management Board plans to permanently shore up the road by using 165,000 car tires that have been recycled into road fill.

Joaquin Wright, senior vice president of Kennec Earth Engineering, said the shredded tires will keep the roadway from sliding in the future because the tires are lighter than regular fill dirt. “The weight is the driving force behind a slide,” Wright said. By reducing the weight of the roadway and fixing drainage problems, Wright said the roadway can be kept stable.

Bob Parker, assistant director for the department of transportation for Mendocino County, said records show the road has slid three times in the last decade, and there are records showing that the road has been resurfaced going back as far as 1965. On the west side of Marina Drive, trees that swapped sides of the roadway sometime in the past serve as a reminder of the slides that have damaged the roadway. The damage Kennec was repairing Thursday is a leftover from the 2006 New Year’s flood.

Wright said the roadway was rebuilt in layers, first dirt, then a 10- foot thick layer of tires, then three feet of dirt, then a final five-foot layer of tires that were wrapped in geotextile fabric and covered in more dirt on Thursday. The tires are spread on the roadway in one-foot layers and then compacted. Wright said the tires are cheaper to use than other road building materials and require no special equipment. The project is expected to cost $740,000.

On Thursday, road workers used heavy equipment to spread dirt over the final layer of tires. “Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell; it’ll look like this,” Wright said, stamping his foot on the compacted dirt roadway. Wright said the Marina Drive project is the first of its kind in California. He said it has been used extensively across the country. “The Maine Department of Transportation does all its slide repair with tire aggregate,” Wright said.

California Integrated Waste Management board member Wesley Chesbro was on site Thursday as the final layer of tires was covered with dirt. “This project represents one of the best ways to recycle some of the 41 million waste tires California generates annually,” Chesbro said. “We will help Mendocino County plug a recurring leak in its road maintenance budget by fixing this problem for good.” “We have a responsibility to find a constructive use for these materials rather than let them pile up and create an environmental hazard,” he said.

All the tires used in the project came from Waste Recovery West and Shamrock Recycling, two Livermore based recycling companies. California recycles 75 percent of its waste tires, according to CIWMB reports. Wright said the process has been studied extensively by the California Environmental Protection Agency and does not pose an environmental risk. “This program wouldn’t be doing what it’s doing if there was a concern,” Wright said. Kennec is expected to finish final soil cover and road-base work by Sept. 21. After that, Mendocino County will pave the road.

Ben Brown can be reached at udjbb@pacific.net.

Reprinted with permission from the Ukiah Daily Journal.

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Last updated: Article published September 7, 2007
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