Residents of Laurel Hill Road, Newton Twp., as well as several roads in Dalton, can now say they live on “old Interstate 81.”
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Asphalt Recycling Program takes what may otherwise be waste materials from I-81 and puts them to use on four-digit State Routes with ATDs (average daily traffic) of 3,000 or less and limited truck traffic. The program, which began last year in Dalton with Lower Mill City Road, Bank Street, Wilbur Hill Road and Seminary Road, is scheduled to continue this year with Seaman’s Road in Factoryville and Clarkson Road in Fleetville, in addition to completion of the project on Laurel Hill Road, which connects with Forrest Acres Drive.
The recycled asphalt, according to Tom Boland, Highway Foreman 2 working on the Laurel Hill Road project, costs the department only $13 to $16 a ton, as opposed to the cost of buying new materials at a maximum of about $60 a ton.
The chunks of asphalt are first transported from construction sites on the highway to the department’s stock pile on Hillside Drive in Clarks Summit (across from the Clarks Summit State Hospital). There, they are put through a grinder, then transferred to a pugmill, which mixes them with oil, water and 2B stone. Next, the finished product is loaded into dump trucks and taken to the local construction sites, dumped into pavers and laid on the road.
Bill Angel stood with his dog and watched the last two steps of this process unfold July 25 in front of his driveway on Laurel Hill Road.
“The road was real patchy before. This is beautiful,” he said, pointing to the area in front of his driveway.
Angel said he’s been waiting for the road to be repaired since he moved to the property in 2006. He used to watch drivers cautiously ease their way down the hill and around the curve because of the poor condition of the road, but he now suspects he may need to request a “hidden driveway” sign to slow them down.
James May, PennDOT spokesperson, said the program benefits not only the department, but the taxpayers and the environment, as it recycles materials which previously ended up in landfills, costing a fraction of the amount it would if the materials were purchased elsewhere.
“By recycling asphalt from Interstate 81 and putting it down on the roads here in the Abingtons,” he said, “we are able to improve roads that we otherwise couldn’t have improved due to funding. The Recycled Asphalt Program is not only good for the environment, but it is a fiscally wise thing for us to be doing.”
In addition, the close proximity of the stockpile to the roads where the asphalt is laid decreases the hauling expenses of the material.
On a full production day, according to Thomas Harris, operator B, 1,000 tons of asphalt can be processed at the stock pile and laid on the road. A tandem axle truck holds at about 16 tons of asphalt. The trucks run in a constant cycle transporting the materials to the road and returning to the stock pile for more as fast as it is produced by the machines.