Bend may use recycled rubber for chip seal projects

Madras officials consider their test a success

Recycled rubber to be used in Bend roads

BEND, Ore. -

The recycled rubber chip seals used in a test for road repair projects in the city of Madras showed increased durability, flexibility, and skid and weather resistance. The city of Bend is considering following Madras’s lead in using recycled rubber in their future roadwork by incorporating it into a chip seal. 

“Madras did a little pilot project, so we’re keeping an eye on that,” Bend Streets and Operations Director David Abbas said Wednesday. “We’re looking to perhaps use this tool in 2021.”

In Madras, the rubberized chip seal was applied to three sections of roads on Buff Street from 5th to 7th and McTaggart to Willow Creek, D Street from 5th to 7th, and 12th Street from A Street to B Street.

Using recycled rubber to chip seal is a low-cost, effective way to seal cracks in the pavement that are caused by aging, harsh weather conditions and heavy traffic. However, the cost depends on various factors.

“If enough folks in the region want to utilize this tool, you get a better price,” Abbas said. “If it’s just a small project, and they’re mobilizing a crew into the area for a smaller quantity, then it’s more expensive.”

Aside from its cost and practicality, recycled rubber is also considered to be better for the environment than traditional asphalt.

Abbas said, “Depending on the mixed design, you can recycle anywhere from 500 to 600 tires per lane mile of application and keep those tires out of the landfill.”

The reason for the rubberized design is that it acts as a flexible binder that does not give in to heat or frigid conditions. 

Madras Public Works Director Jeff Hurd said, “Last year, we had lots of storms, lots of snow, and we plowed over it -- and (the rubber) didn’t pull apart.”

Plans to incorporate the rubberized chip seal for Bend roads are still early in development. The city of Madras, however, considers their test project from last year a success.

"We're pretty happy with it," Hurd said. "We haven't seen any failures yet, so we'll continue to watch it."

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