WSDOT using recycled concrete in I-5 road project

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TACOMA, Wash. - It's not often that you hear of recycling in road projects, but WSDOT in Tacoma is making that happen on NB I-5.

In Tacoma, a major rehab project has been happening between Highway 16 and 38th.

It’s the old adage, what’s old can be new again, and that’s what’s going on with the concrete on northbound I-5 in Tacoma.

“This particular concrete was put on in the 1960s on I-5 -- the old stuff, -- so it’s at the end of its life cycle,” said Cara Mitchell with WSDOT.

Skanska is the contractor on the project. They came up with a creative solution.

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“A lot of times in a construction job you (demolish) the concrete and then you take it to a landfill or you take it to a recycling center. In this case, they stockpiled it and they brought the rock crushers to the site and turned it into recycled material that they can use back on the site,” said Mitchell.

Not only does it leave less of a carbon footprint, it reduces emissions.

It produced over 24,000 tons of new material, recycled material, and it saved over 940 truck trips to and from the site,” said Mitchell.

Essentially, the contractor took the larger pieces of the concrete, put it through a rock crusher and broke it down to where it’s now become a base layer covered with asphalt, and then the final layer is the white concrete that drivers will be driving on.


The Washington Legislature created legislation in 2015 to reuse and recycle concrete material. WSDOT said the project was already underway.

Before it passed, the contractor wasn't required  to comply. But Sanska saw a positive outcome and went voluntarily into the project.