CDOT Recognized for Environmental Leadership for Innovative Use of Recycled Materials in Michigan Avenue Repaving Project

July 17, 2012

Project Used Rubber from 2,200 Car Tires, Discarded Roof Shingles from 130 Houses

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) today honored the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the 2011 repaving of North Michigan Avenue, which made extensive use of recycled materials, calling it “an outstanding example of breaking new ground in developing environmentally responsible pavements.”

CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein accepted the inaugural “NAPA Environmental Leadership Award” on behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel during the NAPA Midyear Meeting held in Chicago this week.

“The use of recycled ingredients has the potential to lower costs for taxpayers, improve quality and significantly reduce the use of natural resources,” Klein said. “The new Michigan Avenue street surface is expected to withstand years of Chicago’s traffic and weather while looking good for the thousands of people who work, shop, and live on the Magnificent Mile.”

Faced with a tight budget, a short construction timeline, and a crumbling roadway, CDOT worked with engineering and materials testing firm S.T.A.T.E. Testing to devise a stone-matrix asphalt (SMA) pavement mix that made use of recycled asphalt shingles, reclaimed asphalt pavement, and ground tire rubber.  SMA pavements are built to hold up to heavy traffic, but including this level and combination of recycled materials in an SMA was a truly innovative idea that ended up creating a stronger pavement at a lower cost.

In all, the repaving job used rubber from 2,200 tires, discarded shingles from about 130 houses, and 24 truckloads of reclaimed asphalt pavement.  According to an analysis using the Project Emissions Estimator software developed at Michigan Technological University, the use of the recycled materials reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 24 percent for the project, compared to having used all-virgin materials.

“Most people aren’t aware that the roads they drive on are increasingly being made with resource-responsible materials. Chicago deserves the Environmental Leadership Award for the way it put innovative thinking into practice on Michigan Avenue,” said Mike Acott, president of NAPA. “Innovative engineering and creative thinking, as CDOT has demonstrated, help ensure that taxpayers get reliable roads at a cost-effective price and with a lower environmental impact.”

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NAPA Environmental Leadership Award