Anyone who ever leaves home knows the problems with roads, highways, parking lots and driveways. Most aging pavement in America, due to use, time and neglect, is in dire need of asphalt repair. But highway maintenance is so lagging that many people assume it is a losing battle.
That assumption is wrong. Fixing any kind of pavement, public or private, as it begins to show the signs of deterioration proves the axiom, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The fact of the matter is that cracks left untended become potholes. Potholes not repaired, or patched poorly, can lead to complete road deterioration.
The Federal Highway Administration says that state transportation departments spent $17.7 billion on new roads in 2006, compared to $32.7 billion (about 50 percent) on existing road pavement preservation. While this proportion reflects good sense in maintaining the significant ($1 trillion) investment in roads built since the middle of the 20th century, most departments of transportation concur it falls short of the need.
Smart asphalt repair uses the best materials at the right time, which defines smart pavement management. A dollar spent on small pavement preservation methods can save seven dollars a few years later. This fact cannot be overemphasized. Asphalt repair is the equivalent to nutrition and exercise in human health. Do it right every day and not only will repair costs be lower in the future, but the vitality and performance of that road will be better throughout the lifespan of the road.
But beyond budgetary savings, timely asphalt repair can bring economic advantages. Consider what quality roads can do for a city, state or region:
Tourism: Americans take approximately one billion domestic trips per year, which generates $471 billion in expenditures. Additionally, more than 50 million international visitors land on our shores and spend weeks exploring our country. When destinations are more accessible, those tourists and their dollars reach beyond core urban centers to suburbs, exurbs and wilderness locations.
Limit accidents: There are many causes of car and truck accidents, poor pavement among them.More than 3.3 million people are injured, and 45,000 people are killed, in transportation-related accidents every year. Costs associated with traffic accidents are in excess of $150 billion.
Reduce congestion: Time lost to standstill traffic annually tallies more than 4.5 billion hours, while gasoline consumption exceeds 6.8 billion gallons. Hot-mix asphalt fixes to potholes, done the old-fashioned way, typically employs a “throw-and-go” approach that ties up rush hour traffic and leaves a stretch of rough pavement that lasts weeks, months or years. But innovations that bring advanced pavement preservation methods (EZ Street Cold Mix Asphalt is one) creates a smoother road on the first repair, is easier to use and lasts longer than hot mix asphalt. What might otherwise be monthly road repairs becomes something far less frequent.
Some think that keeping up the quality of roads, highways, streets and parking lots may be a hopeless task. But a thoughtful analysis of strategic asphalt repair reveals that the benefits can easily outweigh the costs.