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Roads Improved by Use of Rubber-Modified Asphalt from Used Tires

Washington, DC— Several organizations are working to remove barriers that are impeding the expanded use of rubber-modified asphalt in road construction.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Recycled Rubber Topical Group of the American Chemical Society's Rubber Division are involved as well as the Asphalt Institute, the National Center for Asphalt Technology, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the Rubber Pavements Association and the Institute of Recycling Industries.

"We know that asphalt modified with scrap tire rubber is an improved material," said Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director. "Our goal is to bring together the major players that use or that can use this technology, and begin the process of identifying the issues that must be addressed so this market can be expanded."

"This is an important first step in what will be a long process, but one that can lead to a beneficial outcome for all involved," said Ed Miller, ACS Rubber Division executive director.

The participants will consider varying approaches to increase the use of rubber-modified asphalt in road construction. The groups also will identify obstacles and issues limiting the use of rubber modified asphalt, survey existing resources to overcome these obstacles and evaluate the need for further technical input to help resolve these issues.

Rubber-modified asphalt can enhance the longevity of road surfaces and requires less maintenance. The surface also provides a quieter ride and shorter braking distances.

Scrap tire rubber has been added to asphalt since the mid-1960s and is the largest single end use for ground tire rubber. Rubber-modified asphalt is used widely in Arizona, California and Florida while Texas and Nebraska are using it in increasing amounts. New Mexico has begun a significant rubber-modified asphalt project.

In the early 1990's, an unfunded federal mandate required limited use of rubber-modified asphalt in federally funded highway projects. This lack of funding and misperceptions about rubber-modified asphalt led to a repeal of this mandate in 1993.

"We need to focus on ways to explain the benefits of rubber-modified asphalt and overcome many misperceptions," Blumenthal said. "We are hopeful that this forum will be the start of a useful project to educate state transportation leaders that will result not only in improved road surfaces but also another method of taking old, worn-out tires and putting them to good use."





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