Trying to find another use for worn tires and stretch the road-maintenance budget, the state again is entrusting Hardin County to lead the way.

For the third time, the state has selected local officials and the county road department to be part of its research comparing the performance of conventional blacktop with a rubber-modified asphalt.

“It is unusual to receive the rubber-modified asphalt grant in two consecutive years, let alone three consecutive years,” Deputy Judge-Executive Daniel London said in a statement. “This spotlights the diligence of our road department leadership in highlighting our road network challenges and the catch-up resurfacing work we have in front of us due to funding challenges.”

The Energy and Environment Cabinet is investing more than $500,000 to see if this crumb rubber from waste tires can make a cost-effective difference in road life. The study will determine if benefits outweigh the cost difference.

This five-year study acknowledges that only time and usage tell just how well the rubberized road will wear. It’s hoped it provides a reliable way to get more miles of paving accomplished with the same dollars while also eliminating tire waste.

In this case, Smith Mill Road was chosen for a 2.3-mile chip seal application. Financed by the Waste Tire Trust Fund established by the General Assembly, this latest grant amounts to $67,500.

County government agreed to match the state investment and will spend roughly $70,000 for an equivalent amount of conventional surfacing to use for the comparison tests.

Cecilia-Smith Mill Road and Thomas Road previously have been the beneficiary of this grant program.

Whether it proves to be a viable solution or not, this program has benefited from the innovative nature of Hardin County Government and specifically the road department’s crews and leadership. When it’s time for the rubber to literally meet the road, local government has stepped up.

This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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