With the water main break at the US 60 still under construction and an unknown timeline for full roadway capacity, Tempe officials have begun working on a more positive development: road material reuse.

Some roadway materials removed from the US 60 will now go towards fill material for the pre-existing Broadway Curve project, an effort to improve traffic flow along 11 miles of Interstate 10 between the Loop 202 and Interstate 17 near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. According to the I-10 Broadway Curve Improvement Project website, this project is the Arizona Department of Transportation’s largest urban freeway reconstruction project.

TaiAnna Yee, a spokesperson for the city of Tempe, said construction teams removed over 40,000 square feet of roadway material. All of this material is expected to be repurposed as backfill material for the Broadway Curve Improvement Project.

“Sustainability is very important to the city of Tempe,” Chris Kabala, Tempe’s principal civil engineer, said in a video update on the US 60 construction on May 17. “We are glad this material is being used over here and not being shipped somewhere to a landfill.”

The material will have to undergo a process with specialized equipment to prepare it for reuse, Yee said.

Materials that are repurposed in this way pose no threat to the surrounding air, soil or water, according to the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and further efforts to increase use of reused roadway material when appropriate are ongoing on a federal level.

The recycling of the U.S. 60 roadway material is not the first time Tempe officials have chosen to repurpose instead of purchasing new materials. Yee said the city typically reuses asphalt millings for alley paving, dust control or to fill low spots in the alleys. Sometimes, materials are reused in asphalt mixes to pave Tempe roadways.

Meanwhile, repair efforts for the U.S. 60 are still underway. Eastbound commuters may now use the roadway, but the westbound lanes face more work. Concrete pouring began on the westbound lanes the night of May 18, according to a news release, and an expected westbound freeway opening timeline is unknown at this time.

“We clearly know this is a very big challenge if you are commuting back and forth every day to work, if you’re dropping your kids off at school and picking them up, we know this is absolutely an inconvenience,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said in another video update. “Unfortunately, sometimes things like this happen...”