Evaluation of Tire Chips for Highway Drainage Applications: FHWA-WY-03/02F
A study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of using tire chips as a drainage material in roadway construction. Laboratory tests were performed to determine tire chip properties including particle size distribution, compressibility, compacted density, permeability, and the potential effects of tire chips on water quality.
A field project was constructed during the summer of 2002 on Interstate 90, east of Gillette, Wyoming.
This project incorporated two sections of roadway with drainage blankets comprised of compacted tire chips.
Laboratory tests on model edge drains demonstrate that compacted tire chips can provide a highly permeable, efficient drainage layer that could be used for field construction of edge and blanket drains.
The field project demonstrated that constructibility of tire chip drainage layers is feasible using conventional construction equipment. It is further concluded that use of tire chips in place of granular fill provided cost benefits for the I-90 project.
However the relative cost-effectiveness of tire chips compared to granular fill is highly dependent upon transportation costs of both materials and must be considered on a case-specific basis. Design considerations and recommendations are given for future road construction utilizing tire chips as a drainage material.
Samples of water that were exposed to the tire chips were analyzed for metals, non-metals, various ions, and organic compounds. Concentrations of several metals, including iron, aluminum, lead, and manganese exceeded EPA drinking water standards when water was placed in contact with tire chips for prolonged periods of time. Further evaluation of the effects of tire chips on water quality is recommended.