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Michelin Completes Second Phase of Old Faithful Walkway Project

Crews have completed phase 2 of the Michelin recycled tire walkway project around Old Faithful.

Last September, we reported that Michelin crews would be making new walkways around Old Faithful out of recycled tires rather than asphalt. The big selling points for the project were porousness and durability; the tire pathways allow rain and groundwater to flow more directly, reducing erosion around the pathways. In addition, the new pathways don’t leach oil into the ground.

According to a press release, the second phase of the project repurposes 1,536 “end-of-life” tires to create thousands of square feet of paths using a material called Flexi-Pave from KBI Industries. All the recycled tires came from Yellowstone’s vehicle fleet. From the press release:

“The Yellowstone Walkways Project aligns with Michelin’s commitment to being a global leader in sustainable mobility,” said Leesa Owens, director of community relations for Michelin North America. “Our employees have been involved with this project from the start, working directly to help create environmentally friendly walkways out of Michelin tires that had already provided Yellowstone with years of cost-effective and fuel-efficient operations.”

Flexi-Pave is made of rubber granules and stone held together by a polymer binding agent that is inert when cured. Its open-pore design enables fast evacuation of up to 4,000 cubic inches of water per hour. Beyond Yellowstone, this innovative product has a broad range of applications. The thousands of rubber granules making up its surface make it non-slip and it is an ADA-compliant surface accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. The integrity of the materials are not affected by freeze-thaw conditions which is why it works well in cold and snowy parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

“Helping to create a next-generation trail system in Yellowstone National Park is very gratifying,” said Kevin Bagnall, CEO and founder of KBI. “Flexi-Pave not only provides an environmentally friendly solution for the Old Faithful area, it prevents thousands of old tires from ending up in a landfill or being burned for fuel.”

The project was made possible through a partnership between Yellowstone National Park, park concessioners, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, KBI Industries and the Michelin Corporate Foundation.

“Yellowstone is the world’s first national park with nearly 150 years of balancing the protection of natural wonders and sharing them with visitors,” said Lynn Chan, a landscape architect for the National Park Service and lead on sustainability at Yellowstone National Park. “It is important to us to rehabilitate the park’s walkways with materials that can help protect this sensitive environment yet still allow visitors to see and appreciate it.”

“This project represents the model for collaboration between public and private organizations. We hope that this eco-friendly park walkway will inspire other similar projects that help preserve natural systems,” said Jeff Augustin, vice president of external partnerships at Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Going ahead, it’s possible more asphalt walkways in the Park will be replaced with Flexi-Pave ones, should the Old Faithful walkways live up to their promise and potential.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2016.

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