Environmentally Friendly

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When one thinks of environmentally friendly practices, building roads and bridges might not come to mind. Yet MoDOT strives every day to protect, conserve, restore and enhance our natural resource while dealing with the challenges of planning, designing, building, maintaining and operating a complex transportation infrastructure.

  • Alternative fuels are one way MoDOT is helping the environment.
  • Recycling also plays a huge role in MoDOT's efforts to watch over the environment. MoDOT is the national leader in the "roofs to roads" shingle recycling effort. How does MoDOT recycle entire roads and bridges?
Return to 127 MoDOT and the Environment

Alternative Fuels

One of the hybrid vehicles used by MoDOT

MoDOT uses more ethanol and biodiesel fuel a year - three million gallons of E-85 and B20 - than all other state agencies combined. That’s enough fuel to drive a car to Mars and back.

Missouri law requires new state vehicles to meet or exceed the corporate average fuel efficiency standards of 27.5 miles per gallon for passenger cars and 20.7 miles per gallon for light duty trucks. MoDOT has exceeded these mandates, achieving 34.4 miles per gallon for passenger cars and 23.8 miles per gallon for light duty trucks.

MoDOT's efforts to use alternative fuels has been at the forefront of the nation. In fact, the department recently received an award for it's work in this area.

In November of 2008, the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators bestowed its 2008 Honda Environmental Leadership award to MoDOT's Fleet Management Team.

The NCSFA specifically noted several of MoDOT’s environmentally friendly accomplishments. Here are a few:

  • More than 45% of the diesel fuel purchased by MODOT in FY ‘07 was biodiesel, or B20.
  • MoDOT has earned a large amount of Biodiesel Tax Credits in the amount of $453,898.
  • In the past three years, MoDOT's E85 bulk sites have expanded from two to seven facilities.
  • MoDOT participated in a pilot group that tested Hybrid Aerial Trucks -- all other participants were private utility companies.
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We're not just separating glass from plastic. Recycling takes place on a gigantic scale with MoDOT. Sometimes, the department recycles entire sections of roads!

  • I-64. When reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in the heart of St. Louis is completed in 2010, 325,000 tons of concrete and asphalt will be recycled and reused in the new highway.
  • Hermann Bridge. When the Route 19 Missouri River Bridge near Hermann was taken down in spring 2008 to make way for a new river crossing, about 2,000 tons of steel from the structure was recycled.
  • Roofs to Roads. In the past four years, MoDOT has used enough recycled shingles to roof 305 houses.
  • Mixing it up. In 2007, MoDOT used more than three million tons of asphalt containing recycled material – about the weight of all the people in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Tennessee combined.
  • That's a lot of retreads. MoDOT has used enough recycled tires in its construction projects over the past two years to equip 20,000 cars.
  • Look for the signs. About 70 percent of state highway signs are produced from reclaimed material, making the signs cheaper and faster to get. Using reclaimed materials on signs saved $714,000 in 2007.
  • Recycling Accolades. MoDOT's effort are recognized by leaders in the recycling industry. In fact, the department received the Missouri Recycling Association’s Outstanding Use of Recycled Material award in 2008.
  • Recycle Asphalt. Using the latest technology, MoDOT can actually recycle entire asphalt roads.

Roofs to Roads

Shingles are ground up and processed

MoDOT is among the first state agencies in the nation to recycle shingles to resurface or rebuild highways.

In recent years, MoDOT has allowed contractors to put used shingles that have been removed from rooftops into their asphalt mix. The result is a very durable, more-rut resistant asphalt at a much lower price.

MoDOT embraces new ideas that not only help us become a more cost-efficient agency, but a more environmentally friendly one, too. By recycling asphalt shingles, MoDOT keeps them out of landfills, preserve petroleum resources and lower our construction costs while maintaining high quality asphalt pavement.

The use of recycled shingles saves $3 to $5 per ton of asphalt. That may not sound like much at first, but consider this: a typical resurfacing project would use about 30,000 tons of asphalt, for a savings of $90,000 to $150,000.

Once the shingles have been processed, they are turned into materials for Missouri roads

Beyond the cost savings, this practice also helps MoDOT in its efforts to be environmentally responsible. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, an estimated 146,500 tons of roofing materials are disposed of in Missouri landfills each year. By reusing tear-off shingles, the department reduces the amount that ends up in landfills.

Shingle recycling also helps MoDOT reduce the amount of petroleum it uses in its road construction program. By using recycled asphalt shingles, the department reduces the amount of liquid asphalt in a mix design by 20 percent to 25 percent."

MoDOT has incorporated a variety of waste materials on roadways," said Joe Schroer, field materials engineer. "However, we are on the cutting edge nationally for our efforts to reuse roofing shingles."

MoDOT is working with other agencies and organizations nationally to refine the specifications for the use of asphalt shingles as a hot-mix asphalt material. Shingles are ground up and processed Once the shingles have been processed, they are turned into materials for Missouri roads.

MoDOT Recycles Roads and Bridges

MoDOT can actually reuse asphalt directly in place by heating it, processing it on the road and relaying it. The process is called "Hot In-Place Recycling" and it saves Missourians millions of dollars every year. Here's how it works.

MoDOT Keeps Billions of Pounds of Waste from Landfills
8,417,020,000 is quite a large number. That is how many total pounds of waste MoDOT has either recycled back into our roads or kept from area landfills from 2005 through 2009.

MoDOT has recycled 3.56 billion pounds of industrial waste from mines, steel furnaces and power plants, as well as shingles and tires over these five years. Industrial waste is usually disposed of in landfills, but MoDOT has recycled every pound for future uses. Area landfill managers tell MoDOT that 3.56 billion pounds is the equivalent of 89,000 semi-truck loads that would fill the Empire State Building four times.

"There's no reason to dump materials into our landfills that can be recycled," says Joe Schroer, MoDOT Field Materials Engineer. "MoDOT embraces being green and we're getting better at it every day."

Adding to the grand total is reclaimed material. Many of the miles of pavement you drive on and projects you see across Missouri are made of recycled material; in fact, MoDOT has recycled 4.86 billion pounds of reclaimed material that has been used on construction projects since 2005. This helps our environment and saves taxpayer money too.

During 2009, MoDOT recycled more than two billion pounds of waste from construction projects and 6.2 million pounds of paper, cardboard, aluminum and electronics.

"MoDOT wants to be a leader for recycling, conserving and being environmentally aware," said Schroer. "We hope to increase our efforts in the future."

First, the surface of the road is heated. It is processed using specialized equipment that scarifies it on the road while mixing in a rejuvenating agent.
The recycled asphalt is then spread back across the lane.
The refurbished material is ready for a new asphalt overlay without leaving the site. Interstate 29 after the Hot In-Place recycling treatment.

Resource Conservation

The idea of taking care of what we have has always been at the core of MoDOT's environmental philosophy. Here is how the department makes that idea a reality.

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Made in the shade. Under the Trees for Tomorrow program, MoDOT and its partner, the Missouri Department of Conservation, is providing half a million trees a year to youth groups throughout the state through 2012. The program helps replace trees taken down during highway construction.

Elect to protect. When designing projects MoDOT keeps sensitive species and habitats in mind. In 2007, 15 projects were completed using measures to ensure the safety of nine protected species.

Replace the space. MoDOT replaced wetlands at a rate of three acres to one on projects built in 2007.

It's on the web. To conserve energy and paper, MoDOT has begun providing project plans via the Internet, a move that will save about $200,000 a year.

From Tires to Fuel. MoDOT crews clean up more than 80,000 car tires – about 600 tons – that are left on state highways every year. These tires are ground up and used as fuel for power plants.