Asphalt is flexible, adaptable, versatile, customizable, and ready to meet just about every pavement need.
With the option of nighttime construction and without the lengthy curing time typical of concrete,1 asphalt pavements offer the flexibility needed to handle all levels of traffic, and they can be maintained or repaired quickly — up to 3 times faster2 — with minimal disruption to travelers. With long-life pavement designs, asphalt roads can be built to last many decades with only periodic surface renewal and maintenance.3 Smart planning — including increasing roadway capacity and maintaining the pavement surface — along with the swift construction possible with asphalt can help address the $170 billion U.S. motorists lose to traffic delays.4
Americans want well-maintained and functional roads and don’t want to waste time and money in traffic caused by construction. The ability to quickly construct and maintain roads is an asphalt advantage that meets motorists’ expectations. During some phases of construction, and more importantly during maintenance operations, a road that is being worked on can be opened as soon as the pavement reaches a specified temperature and state of compaction.
Standing Up to Mother Nature
Asphalt is the best pavement option for hazardous weather conditions. For example, one type of asphalt surface, known as open-graded friction course (OGFC), allows rainwater to drain through the surface layer and off to the sides while still providing good skid resistance.1 This reduces the amount of splash and spray produced by vehicles, improving visibility and safety. Similarly, high-performance, rut-resistant stone-matrix asphalt mixes have been shown to improve surface drainage and increase friction during wet weather.2
Also, because asphalt pavements are generally darker in hue, they require less salt or other deicing treatments to ensure clear winter roadways compared to light colored pavements.3,4 In fact, at pavement temperatures below 15°F, the use of deicing salts on snow-covered roadways and bridges are not as effective and additional chemicals are often required,5 which can have a negative environmental impact.6 When deicers are needed, they generally do less damage to asphalt pavements than other road surfaces.7
The darker color can also provide greater contrast with white and yellow stripes, increasing the visibility of pavement markings.8 All types of pavement marking systems can work well on asphalt pavements,9 and there is evidence that markings remain effective longer on asphalt10 even in heavy snow areas.11 For thermoplastic markings, in particular, asphalt pavements provide a tighter, stronger bond than concrete pavements.12
- Putman, B.J. (2012). Evaluation of Open-Graded Friction Courses: Construction, Maintenance, and Performance. Report FHWA-SC-12-04. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina.
- NCAT (2009). Hot Mix Asphalt Materials, Mixture Design, and Construction, Third Edition. NAPA Research and Education Foundation, Lanham, Maryland.
- TranSafety (1997). Using Salt and Sand for Winter Road Maintenance. Road Management & Engineering Journal.
- Cuelho, E., J. Harwood, M. Akin & E. Adams (2010). Establishing Best Practices for Removing Snow and Ice from California Roadways: Final Project Report. Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University – Bozeman, Bozeman, Montana.
- MnDOT (2013). MnDOT District 1 2013 Winter State Highway Maintenance White Paper — Fact Sheet. Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, Minnesota.
- Langen, T. A., M. Twiss, T. Young, K. Janoyan, J.C. Stager, J. Osso Jr., H. Prutzman, and B. Green (2006). Environmental Impacts of Winter Road Management at the Cascade Lakes and Chapel Pond. Clarkson Center for the Environment, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York.
- Sumsion, E.S., and W.S. Guthrie (2013). Physical and Chemical Effects of Deicers on Concrete Pavement: Literature Review. Report UT-13.09. Utah Department of Transportation, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Debaillon, C., P. Carlson, Y. He, T. Schnell, and Fuat Aktan (2007). Updates to Research on Recommended Minimum Levels for Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity to Meet Driver Night Visibility Needs. Report FHWA-HRT-07-059. Federal Highway Administration, McLean, Virginia.
- Masliah, M., G. Bahar, T. Erwin, and E. Tan (2005). Towards Improved Management of Pavement Markings and Markers. Presented at the 2005 Annual Conference of the Transportation Association of Canada, Calgary, Alberta.
- Migletz, J., & J. Graham (2002). NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice 306: Long-Term Pavement Marking Practices. Transportation Research Board of the National Archives, Washington, D.C.
- Lynde, McG. (2006). Evaluation of Inlaid Durable Pavement Markings in an Oregon Snow Zone. Report FHWA-OR-DF-06-10. Oregon Department of Transportation, Salem, Oregon.
- TxDOT (2004). Pavement Marking Handbook, Revised August 2004. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas.