MIDLOTHIAN (CBS 11 NEWS) – Along a grassy hillside on Highway 287 near Midlothian, hidden among the grass and wildflowers, are hundreds of black plastic pins.
The pins aren’t visible from the roadside, but once you get close you can see them embedded into the ground.
Those pins are the secret to saving crumbling roads around North Texas and making them last twice as long.
“It will extend the life of the road,” says Dr. Sahadat Hossain, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Texas at Arlington.
Dr. Hossain’s team has installed about 600 recycled plastic pins into the ground.
They are embedded in stretches of soil where long cracks are visible along the asphalt.
Dr. Hossain says because of the type of soil here in this area the roads buckle and crack much more often.
He says along 287, the highway hillside has been slipping away except in spots where the slope was being protected by literally the garbage.
“Let’s say if the crack shows up after one year. Within three to five years the slope might start moving. It will not let the slope move after a few years,” explains Dr. Hossain. “When the road is supposed to be bumpy, the road will be as good as now.”
Five hundred soda bottles are used to make just one pin. Multiply that by 600 and that’s about 300,000 soda bottles being kept out of the landfills.
“That’s not only helping the slope, we are saving space in the landfill,” says Dr. Hossain.
Dr. Hossain says with reinforcement the highways will last 15 to 20 years before needing maintenance.
The Texas Department of Transportation likes the idea and has given Dr. Hossain a million dollar grant to begin the process on Highways 183 and 360 and Interstate 30.
He hopes to get started on those by the end of the year.