Highway designers are increasingly turning to tire shreds as a source of lightweight fill for embankments constructed on weak foundation soils, for landslide stabilization, and for retaining wall backfill. Tire shreds are scrap tires that have been cut into pieces measuring from 75 to a maximum of 300 mm in any dimension. Their in-place density is less than half that of conventional soil fill. Moreover, tire shreds are generally less expensive than other lightweight fills. Much has been learned since the first major tire shred fill was constructed by the Oregon Department of Transportation in 1990. Field trials have been performed to determine the effect of a tire shred layer on the performance of flexible pavement. Laboratory and field studies have shown that tire shreds have a negligible effect on groundwater quality. Progress has been steady, but there have been some stumbling blocks. In 1995 two tire shred fills in Washington State and one in Colorado experienced a serious self-heating reaction. However, guidelines to limit self-heating are now available. An exciting new development is the recently released ASTM guideline specifications for use of scrap tires in civil engineering applications. Highway applications of tire shreds are using millions of tires each year, but there is room for significant growth. In 1996, about 64 million scrap tires went unused. A recently completed survey is expected to show similar numbers. In some parts of the country, the demand for scrap tires is so low that the tire shreds for highway projects can be had for the cost of delivery. The remainder of this article discusses special properties of tire shreds, their use as lightweight fill, their use as retaining wall backfill, and their water quality effects.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Photos; References;
  • Pagination: p. 8-10,38
  • Serial:
    • TR News
    • Issue Number: 207
    • Publisher: Transportation Research Board
    • ISSN: 0738-6826

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00791606
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 26 2000 12:00AM