The AASHTO re:source podcast recently interviewed Ed Sniffen (above), director for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, for a two-part episode about how his agency is testing the incorporation of recycled plastics into its road paving processes. To listen to part one of this two-part podcast episode, click here.

[Above image by AASHTO]

AASHTO re:source – which launched this podcast series in September 2020 – is a major technical service program of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. It provides services and tools through three major programs: the Laboratory Assessment Program, the Proficiency Sample Program, and the AASHTO Accreditation Program.

Sniffen – who previously appeared on the AASHTO re:source podcast in February to discuss his agency’s resiliency planning efforts – said using recycling plastics as part of Hawaii DOT’s mix of paving materials is “part our never-ending quest to be greener” in its road construction and maintenance operations.

“When we started looking back at the pavements on our system, [we saw] that every seven to 10 years, we have to rip out that upper layer and process another layer in. So we tried to see how we can do better,” he explained.

“We started using better materials and making sure that we reconstructed roadways rather than just putting in a ‘mill and fill.’ And that’s helped us tremendously in ensuring that we don’t have to do as much work as CO2 [carbon dioxide] intensive as often,” Sniffen noted. “Now we’re starting to use a stone matrix, asphalt, and polymer mix to create ‘modified asphalts.’ It’s going to give us that 20 to 25-year lifespan we’re looking for.”

Appointed to lead Hawaii DOT in December 2022, Sniffen is a recognized state DOT leader on the topic of resilience and “green” construction initiatives.

He serves as the chair of the Committee on Transportation System Security and Resilience for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and has testified on Capitol Hill about a variety of infrastructure resiliency issues as well.

Sniffen also participated in a knowledge session on infrastructure resilience hosted during AASHTO’s 2022 Spring Meeting in New Orleans.