Roads in Small Town Are Paved with Recycled Shingles

August 19, 2016 | Comments

Three dirt roads in the rural community of Vado, New Mex., are receiving a long-overdue repair this summer. The method of road repair, however, is entirely different from the typical road construction you see on a long commute to work.

Instead of asphalt or concrete being laid on and compacted with heavy equipment, the “pavement” is 60 tons of recycled asphalt shingles. The scrapped shingles are spread onto the roads, and will harden and break apart further over time as they are exposed to rainfall and cars drive repeatedly over them.

asphalt shingles pile

The pieces of scrapped shingles will provide a temporary solution to the issue of the community’s dirt roads. (Image courtesy of Public Media for Southern New Mexico & Far West Texas.)

Vado is a small community of 3,100 people. While public roads must be maintained by Dona Ana County, there are miles of private roads that are in a serious state of disrepair. Last year, one man died of a heart attack while first responders struggled to drive through the community’s uneven dirt roads to reach him.

Further paving will be required; however, the asphalt shingles provide an inexpensive temporary solution to a severe problem.


Practicality of Recycled Asphalt Shingles as Road Material

According to The Magazine of the Asphalt Institute, the use of recycled asphalt shingles for roads and parking lots is steadily increasing. The material composition of shingles already contains all of the typical ingredients for hot mix asphalt pavement. Shingles are typically 25 to 30 percent asphalt cement, 40 to 60 percent hard aggregate and 3 to 12 percent fiber.


Scrapped asphalt shingles are increasingly being incorporated into roads, with the state of Missouri having used 48,000 tons of shingles on state road work in 2011.

According to the U.S. EPA, approximately 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles are disposed in landfills each year, so recycling this material can help to alleviate this waste stream. Incorporating scrapped shingles into roads also provides an opportunity to reuse valuable resources like asphalt binder and fine aggregate.

There are, however, some challenges that come with using scrapped shingles. When they are torn off the roof of a home, shingles may still contain unwanted materials like wood, metal and nails. These materials must be removed before the shingles can be processed for road work. Then there is the issue of cleaning, monitoring for asbestos contaminants, and the oxidation of materials, requiring the addition of a soft binder to meet agency mix design specifications.


Donated Asphalt Shingles Provide an Inexpensive Solution

Laying asphalt shingles on a road is not the best solution, but it is a solution that is more attainable for the community of Vado.

With local resources tight, the U.S. EPA approached Vado and offered to partner with a company outside of El Paso to donate recycled asphalt shingles. A total of 60 tons of recycled shingles are being used to pave Cebolla Lane, a road of approximately one km in total length. The next two roads to be paved will be Tarin Road and Coleman Road.

The recycling company, whose name was not made public, provided the materials, but the local residents of Vado still had to provide the machinery, labor and delivery.

Vado works together

Residents of Vado apply recycled shingles to dirt roads. (Image courtesy of Jett Loe/Sun-News.)

Through a collaborative effort, the residents of Vado raised the funds and provided the work necessary to spread the asphalt shingles. The EPA will visit this demonstration project in order to observe how effective recycled shingles are for building asphalt roads. Hopefully, they will see the community’s efforts bear fruit.


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