ROCHESTER – The first road built using ash from Olmsted County’s waste-to-energy facility will be at the Kalmar landfill.

“This is the culmination of I think 30 years of effort to build a pilot test strip of pavement at the landfill,” said Michael Cook, county solid waste projects engineer.

The trial project at the landfill between Rochester and Byron comes after the county received state approval last year to combine leftover ash with asphalt used in road construction.

Cook said the site will allow the county to monitor stormwater runoff in the first year and continue to see how the road holds up for the next 20 or so years.

Future construction is unlikely to take that long.

“It’s a test project, but we don’t want to wait another 20 years to find out if we can use it,” County Commissioner Matt Flynn said.

Cook said county staff wanted to determine the best approach to mixing the ash with traditional road materials, but there was no need to wait.

“The approval we got from the (Minnesota Pollution Agency) in October gave the project permission to use it in any highway project,” Cook said. “It’s a demonstration for ourselves to show that this project is working.”

For the 2,000 foot landfill road strip, the county contracts with Rochester Sand and Gravel to create the construction material. It has a cost of $227,000, which will help the county determine how the expense compares to traditional road construction.

Kaye Bieniek, division administrator for physical development for Olmsted County, said the cost of the landfill road appears to be in line with expectations for traditional road construction, while using waste that would otherwise occupy the landfill. landfill space.

She said increased strength or future cost reductions amid gravel supply shortages could be additional benefits to using ash.

Olmsted County follows Polk County as the second county in Minnesota to receive state approval to use ash byproduct in road construction.

Tony Hill, county environmental resources manager, said Polk County has used the product for roads in its own county, and Olmsted County will likely follow suit, possibly using ash in a variety of local projects.

Additionally, he said the Minnesota Department of Transportation has expressed interest in using the ashes for future state projects.

The effort to find a new use for the ash comes about two years after consideration of an expansion plan for the Kalmar landfill.

At the time, Hill said finding a use for the new ash produced at the waste-to-energy facility could set back future expansion efforts.

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