Why Asphalt

There are many reasons that highway engineers and motorists prefer asphalt. Simply stated, asphalt pavements are designed and built to last. Most roads are constructed in layers, with each layer playing its part in delivering the best infrastructure possible. When it’s all put together, asphalt pavements can handle the toughest traffic punishment.

 

 

Perpetual Pavements

An asphalt Perpetual Pavement is designed and built to ensure that the structure lasts virtually indefinitely. Routine maintenance is simply a matter of periodically milling (about every 12 to 20 years) the surface for recycling, followed by placement of a new, smooth new overlay. Not surprisingly, these periodic overlays significantly improve the ride quality and fuel consumption of vehicles traveling these roads. Bottom line: Throughout its life, an asphalt pavement’s ride and performance are just as good as new.

 

Smoothness

Studies have demonstrated the fact that pavement smoothness is a significant determinant of vehicle fuel economy. The smoother the pavement, the lower a vehicle’s fuel consumption. But which tends to be smoother, asphalt or concrete? Well, one indication comes from state DOTs’ standards, which have specifications for newly built roads. If the road does not meet the standard, the contractor’s pay is reduced. Some states have different standards for asphalt and concrete, and in every state where this is the case, the requirements for asphalt roads are more stringent than for concrete roads.

 

Smooth roads conserve energy and extend the life of pavements. Studies at a pavement test track in Nevada have shown that driving on smoother surfaces can reduce fuel consumption in the neighborhood of 4.5 to 5 percent compared to fuel consumption on a rough pavement. A study in Sweden concluded that vehicles traveling on the smoothest roads in that country’s network consumed up to 10 percent less fuel than vehicles on their roughest roads. Click here to read the Smoothness Matters document.

Smoother pavements also result in longer pavement life by as much as 10 to 25 percent, resulting in lower maintenance costs. As a rule, asphalt pavements are smoother than concrete pavements. Smoothness measurements on interstate highways in Oregon and Washington showed that asphalt pavements are on average 33 percent smoother in Oregon, and over 50 percent smoother in Washington.

Smoothness also means that truck tires don’t bounce on the pavement and deliver the kind of impact loading they would on a rougher pavement. Some experts estimate that increasing pavement smoothness by 25 percent results in a 9 percent to 10 percent increase in the life of pavements.

Smooth pavements save money for motorists, too. According to The Road Information Program, driving on roads in poor conditions costs around $400 per year per vehicle annually.

Choose asphalt – the smooth ride!

 

Quiet pavements

Noise, including road noise, is a pervasive form of environmental pollution. There is no better way to reduce road noise than to treat the problem at its source. By paving roads and highways with asphalt, the noise generated by at the tire-pavement interface – noise that affects people as they go about their daily lives – can be significantly reduced. Paving with asphalt is actually more effective than building expensive, unsightly noise walls.

 

Versatility

Asphalt is best for parking lots, and for such specialized applications as airports and racetracks.

Parking lots

Asphalt is an economical, environmentally friendly, fast-to-construct material for parking lots. About 85 percent of the parking lots in the U.S. are asphalt. Click here to view our Parking Lot Guide.


 

Airports

Busy commercial airports such as Baltimore-Washington International, Oakland International, San Francisco International, McCarran(Las Vegas), Pearson International (Toronto), and Logan International (Boston) have main runways surfaced with asphalt. BostonLogan’s airport has paved a runway with warm-mix asphalt, making it one of the greenest airports in the world. Asphalt is also used on 85 percent of the runways at general aviation airports. Asphalt’s speed of construction makes it an ideal choice for rehabilitation of busy aviation facilities.

Race tracks

Asphalt pavements provide smooth driving surfaces combined with the excellent traction demanded by professional stock car racing. Of the 33 NASCAR race tracks across the country, 31 are paved with asphalt. Of the 88 race tracks listed for the NASCAR Short Track series, 64 are asphalt, 21 are dirt or clay, and only three are concrete.

NASCAR tracks have their own unique personalities and character. They have a wide variety of lengths, banking, angles and shapes. The banked turns range from 12 to 36 degrees. Most tracks are oval shaped but there are also quad-and tri-ovals, D-shaped layouts and road courses. At racing speeds, drivers need a smooth surface, and asphalt pavements can be build to smoothness standards unmatched by other surface types. Asphalt allows designers to customize mixes not only for smoothness, but also to fit specific conditions and needs. By carefully selecting the right aggregates and asphalt binder, the designer can develop an asphalt mix that meets all of the track’s performance needs.

How it works

Asphalt paving projects can be planned and carried out to take advantage of low-traffic periods, like nights and weekends, minimizing the project’s impact on motorists, residences and businesses.

In one state highway department comparison, asphalt crews placed more than 10 times the pavement surface that a concrete contractor did. The asphalt was placed in 11 nighttime-only shifts, while the concrete work went on around the clock for 12 days.

Major advantages

Asphalt is ready for traffic right after it is compacted and cooled, meaning that roads don’t have to remain closed for curing. This enhances traffic flow and minimizes closures and delays that frustrate motorists and cost money. Impacts on businesses are dramatically reduced when roadwork is completed rapidly.

Speed of construction

Paving with asphalt cuts construction project time significantly and eliminates the long curing times of concrete. As a result, traffic flows more smoothly and impact on commerce is minimized. Asphalt paving projects can be planned and carried out to take advantage of off-peak periods, like nights and weekends.

Asphalt is ready for traffic right after it is compacted and cooled, meaning that roads don’t have to remain closed for curing. This enhances traffic flow and minimizes closures and delays that frustrate motorists and cost money. Paving with asphalt cuts construction project time significantly and eliminates the long curing times of concrete. As a result, traffic flows more smoothly, impact on commerce is minimized, and safety hazards are reduced. Click here to watch a night paving video.

Maintenance is quick, cost-effective, and less disruptive than with concrete pavements.

Asphalt – Faster to Construct

Stealth contractors

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. Click here to watch a night paving video.

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