The highest proportion of recycled asphalt pavement ever used on the strategic road network will be laid as part of resurfacing a section of the M3, Highways England has said.
The material consists of 70% recycled materials in the base course and 50% in the surface course. Standard practice limits the recycled content of surface courses on the network to 10%.
The materials were taken from a previous resurfacing project on the M3 and were stored, processed and then mixed through a parallel drum asphalt plant, reducing the use of both primary aggregates from a quarry and bitumen from a refinery.
Speaking at Traffex last week, Highways England’s executive director, commercial and procurement, Malcolm Dare, told visitors that it was a joke within the company that it was the biggest quarry in the country in terms of the stone that is embedded in its roads.
The government-owned company said the move could lead to significant environmental benefits in road maintenance and that the carbon saving from using recycled materials will provide a vital element towards Highways England’s commitment to reduce carbon and address the challenge of climate change.
Matthew Wayman, Highways England senior pavements advisor, said the section of motorway will be monitored to assess its performance and, if it proves successful, the company will move towards routinely using more recycled content in its resurfacing work.
He said: ‘Although it has been common practice for many years to use a degree of recycled asphalt, this is a major step forwards in helping us reduce the amount of new materials needed which in turn significantly reduces our carbon footprint by cutting the emissions and energy required to excavate, manufacture and transport the materials needed to make the material.
‘We were happy to support this exciting opportunity presented by our supply chain colleagues at FM Conway and Kier Highways, and early collaboration gave us confidence that the materials installed would deliver the same level of performance as conventional materials otherwise used on our network.’
Mark Flint, FM Conway head of technical, said: ‘This has been a great collaborative project between FM Conway, Kier and Highways England that demonstrates the value in reusing vital resources on infrastructure projects to help reduce carbon output and ultimately protect our planet.’
The work is taking place on the northbound carriageway between junctions 6 (Black Dam Interchange) and 5 (near Hook) with the stretch currently being resurfaced covering nearly a mile.
Over 1,800 tonnes of recycled material is being used, a reduction of 55% in primary materials.
This project follows a successful trial by FM Conway on the M25 junctions 25-26 in September last year, where a road surface with 50% recycled content was used.
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