Officials Looking Into Program That Could Help Extend Roads, Reduce Scrap Tire Waste

City and county officials said they are looking into options that could help not only provide a long term working solution to address the large number of scrap tires that need to be disposed of locally but also the need for more road improvements.

One process, called mechanical concrete, could potentially, if utilized, extend the lifespan of some roads.

Mechanical concrete uses a patented process and machine to cut down scrap tires for use on roads, City manager Marc Maxwell said.

No decisions have been made regarding the use of mechanical concrete or tires for road repairs, but the process is being evaluated.

If tires were to be used in the county in road work, they’d be utilized to build up the base on roads in low areas and for use in trouble spots, where possible, according to Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom.

“What I envision is the county entering into with the city, a joint cooperative agreement, where we cut the sidewalls out of the tires and stockpile what’s left. Throw out the side walls. Then start using them in road construction,” Maxwell said.

A road being repaired using the mechanical concrete process, as depicted in “Mechanical Concrete This Changes Everything.”

Maxwell said there are several different varieties of the machine needed to cut the sidewalls out of the tires.

“You basically put it up on a roller, two knives come in, the tire spins and it cuts the sides off,” Maxwell said. “The premise of mechanical concrete is the strength of a road is based in its rock, or road base, what’s under the asphalt or whatever it is. You drive over the rock enough, it starts flexing it out, especially if you’re driving over it with heavy trucks. The sides slough off and you end up with potholes. … If you can confine this rock, it’s a lot stronger – like 3-4 times stronger.”

And, also discussed was the possibility of having county jail trusties perform the labor, or at least to cut the tires, the city manager said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley said while the idea sounds great, officials are still evaluating the process to determine whether use of mechanical concrete would be a practical cost effective fit for the county and its roads.

For those interested in learning more about the mechanical concrete process, Maxwell and Newsom recommend a video depicting it.

Author: Faith Huffman

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