Recycled Tires Used To 'Pothole Proof' Tulsa Roads

Monday, March 24th 2014, 10:24 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County may have found a secret ingredient for fixing potholes; recycled tires. It's a new concoction that's already being used on Tulsa County roads.

It's rare to see a smooth road after Tulsa's harsh winter, but there's a product that's been tested for a year now on county roads that's tougher, more resilient and is said to actually stop potholes from happening.

It's spring, but we're still seeing a sign of winter weather.

"You're going to start to see a lot more potholes around the Tulsa area," said Lance Fischer with Wright Asphalt Products.

Now, there's a possible solution for potholes using recycled tires. Tulsa County is using nearly 4,000 old tires mixed with asphalt, to chip seal more than 25 miles of county roads.

3/17/2014 Related Story: Tulsans Find It Tough To Get Reimbursed For Pothole Damage To Cars

Tulsa County Engineer Tom Rains said, "It's a process that seals the water out of the roadway base, which is where your failures come from."

Wright Asphalt Products turns tires into powder, then, blends it with asphalt at the Sapulpa mill.

"And then we ship the product out of there to Tulsa County," Fischer said.

County workers pour the emulsion onto roads sealing the mixture with gravel and more tires.

"It makes for a stronger chip seal and it holds the rock even better," said Fischer.

But the product isn't a cure-all for potholes. Instead, it's more preventative, strengthening roads to make them pothole-proof.

"We do this on roads that haven't deteriorated to the point where they have big potholes and need to be rebuilt," Rains said.

One road is still smooth a year after the emulsion was poured. That begs the question, if it works on county roads, could it pothole-proof city streets and state highways?

"We're happy with the process and with the product," Rains said. "If it performs like we think it will, we'll continue using it."

It sounds pricey at $20,000 a mile, but county engineers said the product is actually cheaper than others. It's already being used in hundreds of counties across several states.