Morgantown, WV (May, 30, 2011) – Late in the fall of 2010, Morgantown highway and heavy contractor, CAWV and ARTBA member Tom Laurita and Laurita, Inc. built something new in the history of road construction. They constructed a 430 foot coal haul road from the Maidsville, WV Dana Prime mine mouth output area to the state highway with a Mechanical Concrete® base and a 10 inch concrete surface. What made this road unique is that for centuries builders have had three choices to bind earthen materials together: cement, tar/asphalt, and pressure, Tom knew of another choice and decided to use it as the road base. That choice was to physically bind the base stone together inside a tire-derived-cylinder, known as Mechanical Cement®.
Tom had been following the development of this new technology since 2006. That’s when its inventor, Morgantown civil engineer and former WV Secretary of Transportation Sam Bonasso, approached him about its research and development. He knew of the Mechanical Concrete® test road built by the WV DOH in Doddridge County and that Chesapeake Energy was using it in Wetzel County to repair roads. He also knew that the tire-derived-cylinders had been tested and were extremely strong and ideally suited for the heavy coal truck loads.
The project went forward in late November. Workmen who had never used the technology before quickly adapted to the disarmingly simple construction technique. The old road was taken up and the Mechanical Concrete® base was completed in little over a week. The concrete pouring for coal haul road was completed in early December during one of the colder parts of the winter. This road also included two concrete slab / abutment interfaces. The haul road went into service about 10 days later and is currently carrying 300 fully loaded, 80,000lb coal trucks per day.
“What makes this a particularly exciting story is that last week the coal company called to build some more of the Mechanical Concrete® road”, said Laurita. “This is a major step for Mechanical Concrete®,” according to Laurita, who has a license to construct with the technology in northern West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania. “Coal haul roads take more wear and tear than most regular roads. When a product can be used in the mining industry, it will work almost anywhere,” he said.
Since it reuses a major waste product, the used auto tire, Mechanical Concrete® is a uniquely green and sustainable technology. It also reduces the energy needs for road construction by requiring less heavy equipment and less time to build. Bonasso says, “Engineers would never design something as strong and rugged as used auto tire-derived-cylinders to be used in construction. It would be prohibitively expensive. But we are rescuing the tread portion of the tire after it’s served its purpose as a tire. In its new life as a tire-derived-cylinder, we can now use it to build a ‘virtually indestructible’ road base very inexpensively.”
Over 300 million waste tires are generated annually in the US, that’s about one per person per year. According to Bonasso, “That many tires could build about 12,000 miles of two-lane Mechanical Concrete® road per year.