I-81 Pavement Recycling

In 2011, the Virginia Department of Transportation employed full-depth reclamation, cold central plant recycling and cold in-place recycling to rebuild a 3.7-mile, two-lane section of southbound Interstate 81 near Staunton, Va. Using these three distinct pavement-recycling processes together on a single rehabilitation project on the U.S. interstate system had never been done before, until Virginia conducted this project.

Project Details:

This part of Interstate 81 originally was built in the 1960s. VDOT routinely had maintained the surface asphalt. The original foundation of compacted stone aggregate and soil had weakened to the point that it no longer provided a stable base for the overlying asphalt layer, especially in the right travel lane. Using the various pavement-recycling processes allowed the agency to better address the causes of the deep deterioration within the structure rather than just the symptoms.

AMT was responsible for construction engineering and inspection on the project working not only with VDOT and the construction contractor, but with the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research which had been researching pavement recycling for a number of years.

For the project on I-81, VDOT reduced its estimated construction time by two-thirds and saved millions of dollars by using the three pavement recycling methods to reconstruct this part of the interstate. The recycling processes were performed both “in-place” and at a mobile plant near the southern perimeter of the project area, reusing existing material from the underlying road structure. The driving surface received a new overlay of hot-mix asphalt.

The project also featured a novel traffic management plan that generally detoured cars onto U.S. 11, parallel to I-81. Large trucks, meanwhile, used one lane on I-81 while the other was under construction.

VDOT has a goal of making the use of such pavement-recycling techniques a standard pavement rehabilitation option for its road network.