Sudbury tests Hot In-Place asphalt recycling to save money

Greater Sudbury recently approved an extra $811,000 to test recycling asphalt on 30 kilometres of city roads. Cost of pilot project increases to $1.5 million.

Hot In-Place heats existing pavement and reblends the asphalt

Greater Sudbury recently approved an extra $811,000 to test recycling asphalt on 30 kilometres of city roads. This is on top of the $700,000 it set aside last summer for the Hot In-Place pilot project. (Shutterstock)

Sudbury city council recently approved an extra $811,000 to test recycling asphalt on 30 kilometres of city roads.

Last summer council set aside $700,000 from gas tax funding to test a pilot project of Hot In-Place. It's a technique that heats existing pavement and reblends the asphalt.

This cuts down on the amount needed for new materials and, ultimately, the cost of road maintenance.

David Shelsted is the city's director of engineering.

He says the right roads have to be selected for this pilot. 

"We need to ensure that there are no structural deficiencies in the road itself," he said. "One of the reasons why we need an independent body to look at it is basically we need to sample the existing asphalt that's in the road and the existing asphalt cement that's there needs to prove that it can be rejuvenated by the chemicals that the industry uses," he explained.

Shelsted says he's been following the Ministry of Transportation in northeastern Ontario as they test the method.

"Once they did the testing, they determined that the asphalt cement in the road itself that they were looking at couldn't be rejuvenated by the process so then they moved on with a different treatment," said Shelsted. "That's why we'd be looking at sampling a series of roads and doing that testing and then making sure that they're viable candidates," he added.

"I'm a little concerned . . . that we find this isn't as effective as we'd hoped because it's a new process here in northern Ontario," said Ward 8 councillor Al Sizer. "I'm just concerned that we're spending dollars needlessly," he added.

Mayor Brian Bigger said he is willing to try the Hot In-Place technique. "We need to try new methods, we need to try new things. And the risk of failure is somewhat covered by the significantly lower price," he said. 

Ward 4 councillor Geoff McCausland compared changing the surface of a road to changing the roof of a house. "If you don't change the roof in time you don't protect the investment," he said. 

"If the actual base of the road is compromised, the cost to address that situation is dramatically higher than to change the roof or change the surface," he added. 

Shelsted agreed, saying "it's good asset management practice to keep your good roads good. This actually qualifies more on the preventive maintenance technique to addressing good roads while they're still in good condition."

With files from Angela Gemmill


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