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PennDOT eyes reclaimed asphalt as a multi-million cost saver

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(The Center Square) — The state wants to recycle more asphalt in hopes of boosting savings, PennDOT officials said during a meeting Tuesday.

Doing so could also cut carbon emissions, but the 1.2 million tons Pennsylvania generates each year isn’t always reused.

“We’re wasting a valuable resource,” Mary Robbins, director of technical services for the Pennsylvania Asphalt Pavement Association, said. “There’s really no reason for letting this beneficial use product just waste away on our yards.”

On average, new asphalt mix for roads in Pennsylvania already contains about 18% RAP, Robbins noted.

While most RAP gets produced in urban areas, regulations limit its use to low-volume roads primarily in rural areas. When it’s been tried on high-volume interstates, though, state agencies have saved millions.

When Virginia used it on Interstate 81 near Staunton, the Department of Transportation estimated it saved them $7.9 million to $70 million dollars and shaved off months in construction time, Robbins said.

Regions across the state have used RAP in limited applications for nearly a decade, including a 2018 repair project in Blair and Cambria counties that repaved more than 4 miles of road in Blair and Cambria counties. A PennDOT release from 2018 says that northwestern Pennsylvania has saved $5.4 million annually using reclaimed asphalt.

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