If you drive a car, it’s likely that you’ve had to replace the tires on your car from time to time over the life of the vehicle. With four tires on every car, and replacements happening every day, it’s no surprise that experts suggest approximately 290 million tires are disposed of every year. Even worse, nearly 20% of them, or 55 million old tires are illegally dumped in landfills, private property, or left on the side of the road.

In 2016, and age of economic interest and planet-minded millennials, rubberized asphalt is a feasible solution to the plethora of used tires that continues to grow annually. If old tires are not recycled and reused, their existence becomes a threat to the earth, the quality of human life, and the likelihood of running out of resources in the future.

The use of tires in asphalt began as a way to eliminate piles of scrap tires. Today, it’s a roadway finishing solution that provides a longer life for the asphalt, a smoother and quieter drive for those on the roads, and a safer surface for cars and tires.

Why Use Rubberized Asphalt Over Traditional Materials?

For decades, asphalt surfaces composed of recycled tire crumbles have shown to improve skid resistance, the quality of automobile riding, the lifespan of the pavement and reduced pavement noise levels. Phoenix, Arizona is responsible for originally pioneering the use of rubberized asphalt in the 1960’s because of its durability. In the years that followed, it became increasingly popular for its ability to reduce road noise. Rubber-modified asphalt holds more elasticity, making it less brittle and prone to cracking.

Where Can Rubberized Asphalt be Found?

In 2003, the Arizona Department of Transportation began a three-year, $34 million project called the Quiet Pavement Pilot Program. In partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, the program was designed to determine whether or not sound walls could be replaced by rubberized asphalt to reduce noise on busy roadways. After one year, it was determined that rubber-modified asphalt did, in fact, result in quieter highways.

Arizona spearheaded the widely popular use of rubberized asphalt, which can now be found on major roadways in the states of California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as across the world in Brussels and Belgium. Projects similar to that of Arizona’s 2003 Quiet Pavement Pilot Program are currently underway in both Bellevue and Kirkland, Washington, as well as a number of local roads in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Staten Island, New York is testing a new project to see if rubberized asphalt might change the way we look at asphalt roads across the nation. West Fingerboard Road, on Staten Island, is the first road in New York to use rubberized asphalt. This type of asphalt could change the way roads are paved and last in the US.

Rubberized asphalt has different properties, allowing it in theory to last longer, especially when used on busy roads and walkways. Rubberized asphalt is a type of asphalt cement, made up of adhesive and tire rubber. The latter can be recycled material, which not only helps make rubberized asphalt but also is better than old tires being thrown in landfills.

Rubberized asphalt was first used in Arizona in the 1970s and is used as a primary road material in over 22 states in America today. One of the reasons why Staten Island is testing this type of road is because of the harsh, varying weather conditions that occur in the state. If rubberized asphalt can hold up to the conditions, it could open the doors to other states with similar weather patterns to begin using the material.

The test in Staten Island will go on for three seasons: Winter, spring and summer. The data collected during that time on the rubberized asphalt, along with testing other roads in Staten Island to see which stands up to all three seasons. From there, they can determine what type of asphalt would be best and how to invest in the future of New York’s roadways.

Once the test is concluded, the city of Staten Island, scientists, and asphalt companies can find a way to incorporate this type of rubberized asphalt into projects to repave and revitalize roadways that need it the most. As we said above, if this works during the three cycle season, others states in the Northeast may begin using rubberized asphalt and help save the environment, along with getting new roads that last much longer than current asphalt paving programs.