AIKEN, S.C. – Workers are repurposing thousands of tons of asphalt milled up from decades-old roads to resurface well-traveled gravel site arteries, avoiding the high costs of new pavement and disposal.
The 310-square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS) has over 2,000 miles of roads. Workers with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the site’s management and operations contractor, recently milled asphalt from two of the site’s most traveled roads and repaved them — the first site roads of significant length to be resurfaced since the 1990s.
In milling, crews use special machinery to remove cracked and aged asphalt to ensure a good foundation for the new surface.
"I always compare asphalt millings to gold," SRNS Engineer Richard Swygert said. "At what first appears to be waste material can serve a valuable purpose elsewhere."
Swygert said milled asphalt costs about $25 a ton while new asphalt can cost as much as $110 a ton.
“Repurposing the milled asphalt versus paving secondary roads onsite is highly cost effective," he said.
Swygert said past practice called for placing a paving fabric between two layers of the pavement to prevent cracks. However, he noted that the high cost of that fabric — it’s almost as much as a new asphalt surface — prompted a search for a less expensive alternative.
"Discussions with our local contractor about this cost issue resulted in a cost avoidance of $68,000 by placing an open-graded layer of asphalt between the old and new pavement instead of the geosynthetic fabric," Swygert said. "This coarse asphalt creates a surprisingly strong, yet flexible, long-term buffer, serving as a much less expensive and highly effective way to protect our new road surface."
Orangeburg County, South Carolina has received 7,000 tons of SRS millings through the SRS Community Reuse Organization. Miles of roads can be upgraded with this recycled material.