Asphalt pavement is an engineered material made from a controlled mixture of stone/gravel and asphalt cement.
How long will asphalt pavement last?
It has a long life, and should last for many years, if the project is done properly. Don't trust asphalt paving to just any contractor. Know what you're getting (or not getting).
For example, the portions of asphalt on Interstate 90 in Washington have been in place since their original construction more than 35 years ago, with no rehabilitation for structural reasons. The entire New Jersey Turnpike is comprised of asphalt. Built in 1935, it has never had a failure in the pavement structure. The chief engineer for the turnpike expects it to last another 50 years.
Is asphalt pavement a safe driving surface ?
Yes! Asphalt pavements can be designed and constructed for maximum skid resistance. Research has shown that asphalt roads tend to be quieter than concrete roads, leading to less driver fatigue.
There are some other safety features of asphalt to take note of as well. Asphalt is impervious to de-icing salts, chemicals and is unaffected by winter road safety maintenance. Asphalt pavement can be designed with “open-grade” surfaces that allow water to drain through the surface layer of the pavement, thus reducing splash and tire spray, and increasing tire-road contact during wet weather.
How environmentally safe are asphalt plants?
Asphalt plants must meet rigorous standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, but often the individual plants set their own standards that are more demanding. Recent improvements in asphalt production have made the industry even more environmentally friendly.
In fact, after a six-year study, the EPA announced in 2002 that asphalt plants are no longer on its list of industries considered to be major sources of hazardous air pollutants.
Is asphalt pavement used only for roads?
No, but asphalt does have a variety of uses. Here are the main ones.
Paving running tracks, airport runways, greenway trails, bicycle and golf cart paths, basketball and tennis courts, cattle feed lots, poultry house floors, barn floors and greenhouse floors are all legitimate use cases. Also, lining railbeds for transit systems, creating sea walls, its strength, water proofing capability and inertness to seawater help prevent the eroding action of the tides and waves.
Is asphalt pavement recyclable?
Yes! Asphalt pavement is 100 percent recyclable and can be made to perform better the second or even third time around. In fact, it's the most recycled product in the United States, both in terms of tonnage (73 million tons, more than any other material) and percentage (80 percent of reclaimed asphalt pavement is recycled, a higher percentage than any other substance).
That compares to significantly lower recycleable percentages for aluminum cans, newsprint/papers, magazines, plastic and glass beverage containers. Asphalt roads are removed, re-crushed, mixed with additional aggregate and fresh asphalt cement, remixed and placed back on the road. The hot mix asphalt industry also uses the following recycled materials: slag from the steel-making process, roofing shingles, sand from metal casting foundries and rubber from old tires.