Garfield Avenue goes green

Huntington Beach's streets may get quieter over the next few years, but it won't be for lack of cars or pedestrians.

Six years ago, the city began a "green roads" program in which it repaves aging streets with a special concrete that combines asphalt with ground-up recycled tires.

The material, known as rubberized asphalt concrete, or RAC, absorbs sound and can reduce road noise by 85%, according to the state.

The city, which has repaved 28 stretches of road with RAC since 2005, plans to start work on its next area — Garfield Avenue between Newland and Magnolia streets — in the coming days.

Public Works Director Travis Hopkins said the city hopes to eventually top all of its roads with RAC, if funding permits.

The city has covered its previous repavings with gas taxes, Measure M funds and federal stimulus dollars and recently received a $250,000 grant from the state CalRecycle program to help cover seven pavement projects.

"There's not enough funding to do it as quickly as we would like, but it's a continual process of street rehabilitation," Hopkins said.

For the Garfield project, Huntington is getting an $80,000 assist from Fountain Valley because the street borders both cities. Construction should take about three months, although the street will remain open to traffic, Hopkins said.

CalRecycle spokeswoman Amy Norris said her office has gotten a steady flow of applications since it started the grant program in 2003.

Huntington Beach and 35 other cities got grants in the most recent cycle, although Norris said many cities have pursued RAC projects without state help.

Aside from reducing noise, RAC lasts longer than regular concrete and provides strong color contrast between pavement and striping, which makes driving easier at night or in bad weather, Norris said. She also noted the program's environmental benefits.

"If we can grind those tires up and get them back on our roads, that's a good reuse," she said.

The city, Hopkins said, is in the midst of evaluating all streets and determining which are most in need of repair. A few, he said, may have to be repaved twice by the time the city is through.

"You've heard of painting the Golden Gate Bridge, where they start painting on one side and by the time they get to the other side, they have to paint it again?" he said. "That's what street paving is like."

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