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Cycleways are big news right now, with many new urban and off-road projects either installed or underway across the country.

These cycleways could become even more attractive for users thanks to an innovative pavement material delivered by WSP Opus Research. Our pavement materials and behavioural sciences teams are in the final phase of a three-year project to trial an exciting alternative pavement material made from rubberised asphalt made from recycled tyres. The asphalt is mixed with bitumen that has devulcanised tyre-rubber added to it, resulting in numerous benefits including increased resistance to fatigue and oxidation – factors that traditionally undermine asphalt pavement durability over time.

Each year New Zealand creates five million waste tyres, so finding a way to recycle tyres is a highly sustainable approach and takes care of an abundant waste material that would otherwise languish in landfills.

When the rubber hits the road

Since the rubberised asphalt surface was laid down, our behavioural scientists have been collecting data by way of intercept surveys to capture feedback from the local community. The response so far has been extremely positive.

We’ve also been using an instrumented bike as a quantitative tool to demonstrate that not only is ride quality for the rubberised pavement comparable to that for standard asphalts, it is also far superior to the ride quality experienced on chip seal and gravel alternatives. Our researchers are currently quantifying the levels of chemical compounds that are emitted as gases under manufacturing conditions with assistance from AsureQuality. We’re hoping to confirm that there will be no unintended negative side-effects from using rubber waste in this useful way.

About:

This project was funded by the Ministry for the Environment via the Waste Minimisation Fund and the NZ Transport Agency, with contracting assistance from Fulton Hogan and PCL. The cycleway for the project in Upper Hutt was provided by the Upper Hutt City Council. See more exciting innovations in our InTouch magazine: wsp-opus.co.nz/research

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