Asphalt is one heck of material. Its versatility, practicality, and ease-of-use have had asphalt in use by people for centuries, and that same asphalt that past generations used is still in use today. How? Because not only does asphalt hold the preceding qualities, it is also extreme recyclable.

Recycling asphalt is so important that Kentucky recently made grants available to Kentucky counties to utilize recycled tires and their asphalt contents for local projects, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles G. Snavely announced recently.

The counties can request the grants for either recycled tires and asphalt meant for use as chip-seal or recycled tires and asphalt meant for thin asphalt overlay applications. Counties can request can apply for the funding to be granted 24,000 yards of the chip-seal, or 12,000 yards of the asphalt overlay. The two types of asphalt can be utilized for several different purposes including roadway and parking lot repair, maintenance, and construction.

Applicants who are allowed the grants must complete an equivalent asphalt project utilizing standard asphalt funded by themselves.

The grants are not just a gift to Kentucky counties, but also an ongoing test to compare standard asphalt against asphalt that utilizes recycled tire materials. The recycled tire asphalt differs from standard asphalt in that crumb derived from shredded rubber tires is added to the mix instead of another standard substrate like gravel.

Current research points to numerous benefits to utilizing recycled tires in asphalt mixes. It can reduce overall asphalt cost, help recycle thousands of pounds of old tires, increase road life, provide skid protection, and reduce road noise. Many recycled-tire modified asphalt proponents believe the tire-fortified version is better than the “real” thing.

The funding for the grant comes from the Kentucky Waste Tire Trust Fund, which receives $1 for every new tire sold in the state of Kentucky. The fund works to recycle and reuse old tires and develop markets for those recycled materials and also hosts waste tire collection events, waste tire cleanup, and grants for counties to manage their waste tires.

Kentucky’s experiment could have positive results not only for the state but for the entire country.

The Kentucky Dam is currently undergoing renovations and retrofits with concrete technology seeking to make the dam stronger and more technologically relevant than ever before. The US Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, are working on the project and are getting ready to install a concrete monolith to the Kentucky Lock Addition project. This concrete monolith will help with the completion of the overall project, installing a 1200 foot log lock at the dam.

The project is a collaborative construction undertaking by the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Tenneessee Valley Authority and Thalle Construction Company. Thalle Construction is the contractor for the Kentucky Dam project. The three agencies have been working hard together to make sure the project comes in on time, budget and utilizes concrete in the best way possible for the job.

61 concrete monoliths will be built for two walls of the new Kentucky Dam lock. Thalle will build the first nine monoliths, which are expected to be complete by spring of 2016. In addition to building the concrete monoliths, Thalle will also be pouring around 130,000 cubic yards of concrete for the project and be in charge of another 850,000 cubic yards in the future to complete the overall project.

The project is looking to change the way the locks currently work for the Kentucky Dam to increase overall efficiency and eliminate a variety of delays the dam currently causes. The current lock causes several bottleneck situations, which causes issues for tow boats and other aquatic crafts on the water. The new lock should help reduce these delays and make the waterway more efficient for those using it for cargo.

The project has been in development hell since 1998, as various delays and issues have transpired to make it lose sight of its completion goal time and time again. The $862 million project is set to be complete in 2023.