Midland County uses recycled plastic bags, tires in asphalt

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MIDLAND COUNTY (WJRT) - (08/16/19) - The Midland County Road Commission is paving the way to greener roads.

This construction season the road commission has incorporated recycled tires and plastic bags into the asphalt.

The recycled plastic bags come in a new asphalt mixture produced by Dow.

Four roads have the asphalt-plastic bag blend. They include Waskevich Lane, Badour Road, Julie Ann Drive, and Midland-Bay County Line Road.

Altogther it's estimated the projects used 300,000 recycled plastic bags over the roughly three miles of pavement.

Along Eastman Road, north of Midland, is where you'll find the asphalt-tire mix.

"Has recycled tire melted down, we used it in the binder of the asphalt," explained John Kelley, project manager for OHM Advisors who consult with the Midland County Road Commission.

The Eastman Road project is the first time Midland County has used recycled tires, but Kelley said a handful of other projects in the state have used it.

But Midland County's project goes further.

"There used to be five to six foot ditches throughout the whole roadway here," Kelley said. "Now you can see it's more of a shallow swale, we've put underdrain along the bottom of the ditches and filled using tire derived aggregate."

In order to widen the road the ditches needed to be filled in. They're now filled with sand and the recycled tires, which allows water to drain into the county's drain system.

A grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy made the innovative project possible.

"As opposed to putting old tires in the landfill, this project we actually estimated about 100,000 tires we've used and incorporated into the ditches and the roadway," Kelley said.

Kelley said the state plans to do additional environmental testing after it is in place, however other states have found it to be safe. In addition, Kelley said the mixture is already used in our state for some septic fields.

And while drivers likely won't see a difference, they may be able to hear it. "If you drive on the conventional asphalt, onto the rubber you'll notice a little difference in the noise," Kelley said.

Crews plan to finish paving the roughly two mile stretch of Eastman Road on Saturday.

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