Why “Blacktop” Asphalt Paving Rules on Public Roadways

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Asphalt is cheaper to install, and easier to repair, than cement concrete. But both require regular maintenance to ward off deterioration – including potholes. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), about 94 percent of all surfaces used for transportation – roads, streets, and highways – are paved with asphalt. The characteristics and properties of bitumen-based asphalt, also known as blacktop, are quite different than those of concrete, even if…

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American Residential History: How Worn Paths Became Blacktop Driveways

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Why aren’t there any driveways in pictures of middle class homes from the 1890s? Because they didn’t have cars! The rest is history. Before anyone considers their next blacktop driveway repair project, it might help to consider the history of driveways themselves. As well as the old jokey question, “Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?” The answer to that question is simple: language evolves. The invention…

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The Life Stages of Asphalt Driveways

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No driveway lasts forever. But just like with human health, the wellbeing of asphalt pavement depends on attentive maintenance: resealing, resurfacing, and ultimately repaving. New homeowners learn a hard lesson, gradually, as the home and its surroundings age and deteriorate. It depends on the components of the house, garage, driveway, and landscaping elements – especially the quality of materials and products – but with time a new roof, new paint,…

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The Infrastructure Bill, EV Charging Stations – and Potholes

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The 2021 US infrastructure bill leapt closer to becoming law in August with a strong vote of support from the Senate. So what might it mean for pothole repair? The obvious benefit of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (a working title) is in how much will be dedicated to fixing roads and bridges. While a version of the bill has yet to be voted on in the House, and…

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Pavement Failure in Freakishly High Temperatures

By potholes

Potholes from freezing weather aren’t the only thing that can go wrong with asphalt and concrete roads. The lessons from heat dome regions should be part of engineering, policy, and infrastructure planning. There are two misperceptions about road pavement that could be increasingly problematic in the years to come. They are: All asphalt is made the same (it’s not) The only threats to roads are the freeze-thaw cycles that cause…

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