Wirtgen technologies successful at Interstate 81

Using the cold recycling method has the potential to revolutionize how we rehabilitate our aging roads, both in Virginia and nationally.
Robert F. McDonnell, Governor of Virginia

said the Governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, expressing his delight with the results of the rehabilitation measures on Interstate 81. Looking to the future, he said: "We expect to continue using these processes, where appropriate, to save money and materials as we rebuild older roads throughout the commonwealth."

Roads & Bridges magazine and the Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association (ARRA) share the Governor's opinion. They presented the construction project and the responsible authority – the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – with the 2012 Recycling Award in the "Cold in-Place" category. The awards recognize top asphalt road recycling projects in North America. Winners are selected based on the amount of recycled pavement material used, cost savings and project challenges.

Cold recycling – leading technology in structural road rehabilitation

One of the major north-south routes in the eastern United States of America runs across the state of Virginia with two lanes in each direction – Interstate I-81. Continuously increasing traffic volumes and the loads imposed by heavy-vehicle traffic had left the pavement surface covered with alligator cracks, wheel ruts and patches where minor repairs had been carried out. In previous years, VDOT had been able to keep traffic up and running by carrying out extensive repair operations.

In the spring of 2011, however, a 6-km-long stretch near Staunton on the right-hand truck lane required complete rehabilitation due to structural damage and an inadequate load-bearing capacity. The left-hand passenger car lane, which was subject to lower loads, was to be rehabilitated by cold recycling to a depth of 12 cm. This highly challenging construction project involved the use of as many as three different recycling methods – making this a unique project for the rehabilitation of an interstate in the USA. All the more reason for VDOT to opt for the high-performance cold milling machines, cold recyclers and mobile cold recycling mixing plant from the Wirtgen Group and an entire fleet of Hamm rollers.

Rehabilitation: pioneering, economical, resource-efficient

During the rehabilitation of the truck lane, the compact dimensions of the Wirtgen Group machines minimized the disruptions to traffic: vehicles were guided past the job site on the adjacent, left-hand lane, thus maintaining a continuous flow of traffic. W 210 and W 2100 large milling machines removed the entire asphalt material down to a depth of 25 cm in a single pass. The LEVEL PRO levelling system specifically designed by Wirtgen for use in cold milling machines made light work of this difficult task, precisely maintaining the selected milling depths. Trucks seamlessly transported the reclaimed granulated material to the mobile mixing plant KMA 220 for recycling.

Wirtgen WR 2400 cold recycler with a working width of 2.40 m was at the ready for the soil stabilizing operation to be carried out next, which would restore the subgrade to the required bearing capacity. At the same time, the cold recycling mixing plant was busy recycling the reclaimed asphalt material in an "in-plant" process for full reuse. Its mobile mixing design enabled the mixing plant to be set up in the immediate vicinity of the construction site, which not only reduced the distance to be covered by the transport trucks, fuel consumption rates and CO2 emissions, but also resulted in a significant reduction of the overall construction costs. Asphalt pavers placed the material on the stabilized subgrade as a 20-cm-thick layer that was then effectively compacted by tandem rollers from Hamm. Finally, a 5-cm-thick asphalt layer was placed on top.

The rehabilitation of the left-hand lane was then begun without delay. As it had mostly been used by passenger cars in the past, it required less extensive rehabilitation methods. In a first step, the W 2100 milled off the 5-cm-thick surface course at a gradient of 2%.

After pre-spreading 1% pure cement, the Wirtgen 3800 CR cold recycler equipped with a 3.8-m-wide, integrated paving screed gained centre stage for the "in-situ" processing of the traffic lane. It is a major advantage of this process that neither the source material nor the recycled construction material mix require any transport effort. The cold recycler milled off and granulated the damaged asphalt layer down to a depth of 12 cm in a single pass – while the milling and mixing rotor mixed in foamed bitumen, cement and water at the same time. The 3800 CR then paved and pre-compacted the recycled mix by means of the integrated Vögele paving screed.

Final compaction was carried out by tandem and rubber-wheeled rollers from Hamm. The rehabilitation work was completed by paving an asphalt course on top of the recycled base.

Wirtgen technology makes the difference – VDOT is planning another project

Ground-breaking cold recycling technologies from Wirtgen were the key to success in this showcase project: traffic on the I-81 flowed smoothly again after a short construction period – on two roadways with optimal structural integrity for excellent durability, which were processed in an economical, resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly manner.

Savings on the I-81 in-place pavement recycling project go beyond time, money and materials.
Greg Whirley, VDOT Commissioner

Market-leading and cutting-edge products for the Road and Mineral Technologies business sectors are constructed at the WIRTGEN brand headquarters in Windhagen, Rhineland-Palatinate. With its innovative, high-performance and cost-efficient products and technologies for cold milling, soil stabilization, hot and cold recycling, concrete paving and surface mining, WIRTGEN leads the world market in road construction and repair, as well as in mining natural rock and pay minerals.