Rubber-Tire Road

The repaving job was a “mill and fill”—the crews would first grind out the old asphalt concrete, then replace it with the new pavement, all in the same shift. (Photo: Jim Karageorge)

O. C. Jones & Sons’ innovative pavement rehabilitation for a six-mile stretch of California’s Highway 101

When the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) needed to rehab the pavement on Highway 101 between San Rafael and Novato, it allotted 310 days maximum for the job’s completion. O.C. Jones & Sons, the firm with the winning bid for the project, completed the job in 52 days. “Two removal and replacement crews worked simultaneously on each side of the freeway,” says Kelly Kolander, president and CEO of O.C. Jones.

And, to top it off, the firm considered the environment with its practices: the removed asphalt was ground and either reused as road base for an adjacent project or saved for future use in the production of recycled asphalt pavement, and the newly laid asphalt consists of recycled tires, diverting 27 million pounds of old tires from being dumped into local landfills. To capture the eerie magic of nighttime repaving, the firm hired photographer Jim Karageorge, who took these incredible—almost spooky—photos.

(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)
(Photo: Jim Karageorge)

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Q&A with O. C. Jones & Sons’ Kelly Kolander, president & CEO, and Bill Jensen, project manager

How often do you use rubberized asphalt?
Kelly Kolander: We use rubberized asphalt (RHMA) in quite a few of the Caltrans projects that we do involving new pavement construction as well as pavement rehabilitation.

What would you say is the most noteworthy aspect of the Highway 101 Novato project?
KK: This project required the use of two complete removal and replacement crews, working simultaneously on each side of the freeway. The project team—consisting of a project manager, a project engineer, and an area manager—spent extensive time in the planning and preparation stages to ensure that the execution went as smoothly as possible. From the initial stages of the bidding process, we were aware that the complicated logistics and the speed of this project required an extraordinary effort, and our guys were up to the challenge. But beyond that we are really proud of the extremely high-quality product.

Bill Jensen: We achieved nearly perfect compaction numbers and the ride quality (the smoothness of the new pavement) is excellent, as recognized by the project’s win of the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s Quality in Construction Award.

Describe the atmosphere surrounding this project.
KK: Constructing the project was very complicated, but it was handled quite successfully. The teamwork and coordination within our own crews, as well as with our supplier, Syar Industries, was excellent. They pulled off an incredible feat and made it look easy—it’s something to be proud of. On any given night there were two paving crews working on either direction of the highway, placing RHMA that came from two separate asphalt plants at SYAR in Vallejo. The job was a “mill and fill” (you first grind out the old AC, and then replace with new all in the same shift). Each paving operation had its own grinding operation with two grinders per side (four total).  There were roughly 70-75 trucks hauling grindings to the plant every night and hauling back RHMA—not to mention two traffic-control crews and one OCJ temp striping crew that had to stripe both sides of the highway every night.