Iowa puts recycled plastic roads to the test
Iowa is testing a new recycled plastic mixture in asphalt in several spots across the metro in hopes of extending the life of roadways.
Why it matters: Inclement Iowa weather, like today's Saskatchewan screamer, can take a serious toll on our roads.
- Taxpayers could save tens of millions of dollars in future annual road expenses if the experiments work.
State of play: More than 300,000 pounds of the additive known as NewRoad was used in metro road projects last year, the equivalent of 15 million water bottles.
- The first metro-area test using the patent-pending technology was launched five years ago in an Iowa Department of Transportation project along Northeast 22nd St.
- Preliminary results show a heavily traveled section near the Polk County Jail is holding up better than an adjacent portion that used conventional asphalt, Matt Miller, a construction technician with the DOT, told Axios.
What they're saying: NewRoad's Florida-based developer, New Village Initiative Advanced Materials Group (NVIAMG), claims its product can lower road costs as much as 30%, while simultaneously diverting plastics from landfills.
- Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are already using it at some of their DSM metro projects, said Perry Beeman, a spokesperson for NVIAMG.
- It's also being tested in Pennsylvania and used in Minnesota and Florida, he said.
The intrigue: The plastics technology is also being used in concrete, which NVIAMG said makes the material as much as 63% lighter while maintaining its structural strength.
- Its building materials are cheaper and more resistant to fire, earthquakes, and hurricanes, according to the company.
What's next: The Des Moines test site shows the road is more durable and "you'll probably start seeing more of it," Shane Fetters, a field technician for the Iowa DOT, told Axios this week.
Editor's note: Beeman is a former journalist who worked with Axios Des Moines reporters Jason Clayworth and Linh Ta in previous jobs.
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