Perpetual Pavements

 Engineering Facts


Perpetual asphalt pavements have actually been built in the U.S. for generations – even before engineers articulated the concept.
Although the Perpetual Pavement concept was first articulated in 2000, many asphalt pavements that were constructed long ago function as Perpetual Pavements. For example, many full-depth and deep-strength pavements were built around the country in the 1960s and 1970s.The Asphalt Pavement Alliance instituted the Perpetual Pavement Award program in 2001 to recognize DOTs and other owners of pavements that had the foresight to build pavements according to these principles. To qualify for the award, the pavement must be at least 35 years old and must have never had a structural failure.The first winner of a Perpetual Pavement Award was the New Jersey Turnpike, which was 50 years old at that time. Between 2001 and 2011, a total of 80 pavements qualified for the award. Winners include interstate highways, rural roads, city streets, and airport runways. The easternmost winner is in Connecticut, and the westernmost is on one of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Kentucky has received four Perpetual Pavement Awards:
2011 – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a 6.6 mile-section of Hal Rogers Parkway in Leslie County.
2009 – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a 12-mile section of I-65 in Hart County near Munfordville.
2007 – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a 4-mile section of US 60 in Ashland on Cannonsburg Road.
2004 – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a 27 mile section of Julian Carroll/Jackson Purchase Parkway in Graves and Marshall Counties.


A Perpetual Pavement is an asphalt pavement designed and built to last indefinitely without any structural reconstruction. Cracks and other distresses happen only in the top layer, so the only rehabilitation ever needed is renewal of the surface.


Pavement engineers have been producing long-lasting asphalt pavements since the 1960sResearch has shown that well-constructed and well-designed flexible pavements can perform forextended periods of time. Many of these pavements in the past forty years were the products of full-depth or deep-strength asphalt pavement designs, and both have design philosophies that have been shown to provide adequate strength over extended life cycles (APA, 2002). It is significant that these pavements have endured an unprecedented amount of traffic growth. For instance, from 1970 to 1998, the average daily ton-miles of freight increased by 580 percent, and the average freight loading continues to increase 2.7 percent per year.


Perpetual Pavements are built so that only the top layer needs routine maintenance. Click here to read the full report of the Perpetual Asphalt Pavement Synthesis.


For pavement designers, the APA offers two versions of its software for the design and analysis of Perpetual Pavements. Both versions of the software are available as free downloads.PerRoad 3.5 uses the mechanistic-empirical design philosophy. The program couples layered elastic analysis with a statistical analysis procedure (Monte Carlo simulation) to estimate stresses and strains within a pavement. The second version, PerRoadXpress, an is easy-to-use, all-on-one-screen program for designing Perpetual Pavements for low- and medium-volume roads and parking lots.


The Asphalt Pavement Alliance has bestowed its national Perpetual Pavement Award on more than 80 pavements – all of them built before 1976, and many more than 50 years old.These national awards are given to road-owning agencies for asphalt pavements that are at least 35 years old and have never had a structural failure. The average interval between resurfacing of each winning pavement must be no less than 13 years, and the road must demonstrate excellence in design, quality in construction and value for the traveling public.Read more about the APA Perpetual Pavement Awards.


Only asphalt can be the Perpetual Pavement, and Perpetual Pavement is the only one that lasts indefinitely. Perpetual Pavements conserve resources and save billions of dollars.


Even pavements that were not designed to be perpetual can become perpetual pavements – one inch at a time. There is no reason that the life-extending principles of Perpetual Pavements can’t be used for lower-volume roads. Perpetual Pavements can even be created, one inch of overlay at a time, as part of pavement preservation efforts. The December 2012 issue of Better Roads magazinehas the whole story.


The materials used in Perpetual Pavements are infinitely reclaimable, recyclable, reusable, and renewable.


Perpetual asphalt pavements can actually be built thinner than traditional pavements.


Secrets of Perpetual Pavement revealed! Instruments buried in pavements all over the country are showing that Perpetual Pavements perform as designed. This means that pavements can be thinner (for lower cost) and longer-lasting (for the ultimate in sustainability). Asphalt Pavement magazine has the story about studies in Alabama, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin.


Perpetual pavements have low environmental impact because they reduce the amount of natural resources needed over the pavement’s life.


Wisconsin researchers installed traffic and environment sensors and a real-time wireless data feed on a portion of Interstate 43 that features Perpetual Pavement. Click here to watch the video.


Using advanced technology, Perpetual Pavements are built in layers. Each layer plays a specific role. And the only layer that ever needs to be rehabilitated is the surface.


Constructing a Perpetual Pavement today means that future generations will probably never need to replace the pavement structure. Read More


When a Perpetual Pavement needs rehabilitation, road crews mill off the top layer for recycling, then put a new surface on the road.Everything can be done overnight, without inconveniencing commuters. Asphalt work can be planned so that the crews work in off-peak periods only. This means that folks may drive home from work on a Tuesday night, then find a brand-new, smooth pavement when they drive to work Wednesday morning – and they’ve never even seen an orange barrel! Only with asphalt can a “stealth contractor” give the traveling public a great new pavement, literally overnight. Watch this night paving video below courtesy of PAIKY (Plantmix Asphalt Industry of Kentucky).


Maintaining a Perpetual Pavement is like putting a new roof on a house. This makes asphalt different from pavements that need to be completely removed and replaced every 40 years.


A paving demonstration in Iowa showed how low-volume local roadways can be cost-effectively turned into Perpetual Pavements. The project brought together the life-cycle cost advantages of Perpetual Pavement, the low initial cost of a road using reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), and a fast-track schedule that minimized inconvenience to motorists and neighbors.
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