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Douglas recycles asphalt

Linda Hiller

Douglas County is now a major player in the field of recycling. Asphalt, that is.

In a process that is akin to taking lemons and making lemonade, the county road department has entered into a partnership with the Nevada Department of Transportation to use “grindings” – material that would otherwise go to waste – from road repairs and put it to use surfacing other secondary roads in the county.

“This is the first time we’ve done the recycling and it is an absolute Godsend,” said Bob Nunes, Douglas County Community Development Director. “It is very inexpensive – all we had to do was haul it and it really serves to keep the dust down in these neighborhoods.”

Nunes and county road maintenance supervisor, Brett Reed, worked closely with NDOT and Carson County officials to make the asphalt recycling a reality.

The way it works, when road upgrades or repairs are done on an asphalt-paved road, the top surface is ground off, producing the grindings, Reed explained. This material is then removed from the site. In many parts of the country, it is simply discarded into large unsightly slow-to-decompose black piles of asphalt.

But, through this cooperative effort between the counties and NDOT, the grindings are made available at no cost except for the hauling, and it can be reprocessed and laid down on rural roads that might otherwise never see a paved surface due to budget constraints.

One of the most frustrating road repair snafus this year was the too-oily final surface that was laid down on Highway 395 in Minden last May.

After merchants and residents thought the resurfacing project was finally complete, this top layer had to be removed and replaced due to a computer error at Granite Construction’s asphalt mixing hot plant in Dayton.

But, said Reed, the bad news turned good when the grindings from that project were made available to be used in surfacing several county roads at Topaz Lake.

“That material went onto streets like Mark Twain below the Topaz Lodge, and will help to subdue the dust on those roads,” he said. “Because of the costs, we might not have been able to do those surfaces, as well as some of the streets in Johnson Lane and Jacks Valley that we’ve done.”

Grindings from resurfacing on Highway 50 have been utilized on several streets in those north Valley developments, he said.

County Manager, Dan Holler said he hopes the county will be able to continue to utilize the grindings from NDOT projects on into the future.

“What this does for us is it allows us to get good material at cost for use on our dirt roads,” he said. “The roads last longer and basically we only pay for the cost of hauling. We work with NDOT and it benefits us both, saving everyone money in the long run.”