It is often said that cold-weather states have two seasons: winter and road construction.
Salting and other snow-removal tactics take a heavy toll on roadways in cold-weather climates, and states that receive heavy snowfall often spend millions over the summer months to patch up potholes, cracks and other roadway damage.
These projects are not only staggeringly expensive but also carry heavy environmental impact.
But Illinois may be on its way to lightening the footprint of this common construction woe through the use of recycled materials.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed legislation allowing the transportation department to use asphalt made from recycled roofing shingles – a move that could save millions of dollars and tons of raw construction materials.
House Bill 1326 allows businesses that specialize in waste collection from construction and demolition sites to double the amount of shingles they send to recycling facilities to be used later for making asphalt.
It also encourages the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to use asphalt made from recycled materials in its projects whenever possible.
After a brutal winter, Quinn called this summer “one of the busiest construction seasons in state history” and said it was the perfect time to up the green ante of Illinois road construction.
“This law will keep more shingles out of landfills, benefit the environment and save the state millions of dollars by expanding our use of recycled materials,” Quinn said after signing the bill late last week.
The new law is expected to save the state $8 million annually, Quinn said.
Driving on old roofing shingles may sound like a bumpy ride, but Acting Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider assured motorists that they won’t even feel the difference.
While legislators are confident that the new law will mean a smoother ride for motorists and the environment, the performance of these new construction projects will be continually monitored by the state.
IDOT will have to report the results of its efforts to the Illinois House and Senate transportation committees each year to ensure safety and efficiency.