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Alberta Minister announces new highway paving recycling technology

May 29, 2023

The Alberta government is testing new highway paving technologies it says will extend the life of some roadways by up to 20 years as part of its $335-million paving budget.

At an announcement Thursday, Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen said rehabilitation work reduces the need for the full road reconstruction in a challenging environment that sometimes fluctuates between -40 C and 40 C heat.

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Some of the additional $80 million going towards highway funding this fiscal year will go into testing the use of the Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR) technology along Highway 33 near Barrhead, northwest of Edmonton.

“It’s a lot cheaper because you’re not having to haul away materials and haul back materials to build the roads,” said Dreeshen.

That technology recycles existing pavement, mixes it with new materials and replaces it as a new layer of pavement. Without using heat, it aims to reduce emissions.

Dreeshen said the department is also looking at employing “geocells,” honeycomb-shaped structures that form a mattress to reinforce road structure. They are also looking at adding oilsands bitumen to asphalt mix.

“All of these new technologies have potential to reduce cost and extend the lifespan of our roads, depending on the longer-term performance and cost-effectiveness,” said Dreeshen, who did not offer specifics about how that performance or cost-effectiveness might be measured.

The minister said the 20-year comparison with conventional repaving depends on which technology is being used.

This year’s provincial budget puts $402.2 million total into provincial highway maintenance.

As of 2021-22, 58.6 per cent of highways in Alberta were rated “good,” 25.5 per cent “fair” and 15.9 per cent were rated “poor,” according to the department’s latest budget documents.

Alberta’s highway network includes almost 28,000 kilometres of paved roads, 2,800 of which are four-lane or six-lane divided highways.

There are 42 paving projects in the works across the province, including eight projects in the central region, 14 in the Peace region, and 11 in the southern region.

In the north central and Fort McMurray regions, there are nine, including:

— Highway 16 between Clover Bar Road and 9 km west of Highway 834, Highway 16 between Clover Bar Road and 12 km west of Highway 834

— Highway 658 between Highway 43 and 7 km east of Highway 43

— Highway 39 between the town of Calmar and 3 Km west of Highway 2

— Highway 825 between north of Township Road 553 and Highway 643

— Highway 2 between Highway 39 and Edmonton

— Highway 44 between Township Road 594 and south of Highway 18

— Highway 33 between Highway 18 and south of Ft. Assiniboine

— Highway 661 between Highway 33 and 19 km west of Highway 769

— Highway 897 between Highway 646 and 16 km north of Highway 646

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