Roads for the Future

Roads for the Future

For many, the topic of pavements and roadways may seem boring, but if you think about it, our roads are extremely important and they’re how we stay connected. Roadways are how supplies get to supermarkets, how families get together for celebrations, and how we are able to see new sights. Without roads, access to landmarks, events, and important products would be incredibly difficult.

Humans have been using centuries-old technology for the creation of our roads, but as Jeremy Gregory, an MIT sustainability researcher, points out to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS): “We’re constantly looking for improvements.” There are always things that can be changed and ways to make operations more resourceful and practical. The way we pave our roads today is similar to how the Romans executed the process, and most pavements around the country are made from asphalt or concrete. Concrete may be more resilient to wear and tear and is stiffer than asphalt, but it’s much more expensive and is not as easily repaired. Asphalt is softer but is quieter and is recyclable. With all things, there are pros and cons of any pavement method.

The Hot Stuff

Asphalt pavements emit some organic compounds that contribute to pollution. Environmental engineers at Yale University studied the effects of heat on asphalt pavements and showed that “overall emissions of organic compounds at 60 °C (typical for asphalt baking in summer heat) were twice those measured at 40 °C. And from 60–140 °C (typical temperatures experienced during the storage and application of the material), emissions increased by about 70% for every 20 °C rise in temperature.” Also, a surprising factor that arose during these emission studies is asphalt shingles and tiles on rooftops. Asphalt shingles can emit large amounts of pollutants each year. Environmental engineers have been working toward a solution that can help “reflect some of that sunlight and lower the temperature of roads and parking lots” in addition to rooftops. Researchers around the globe are also working on replacing some of the aggregate materials used in road bases with recycled materials to help reduce the environmental impact of building roads. Other researchers are looking at the possibility of using sand or gravel carried in wastewater for road repair and to patch potholes.

Investing in the Future

As we forge ahead to the future, investing our time and energy into processes that are more efficient, more cost effective, and better for the planet are important. Sometimes when one beneficial development is discovered, a negative arises in another area. Gregory states, “A lot of times, we’re trying to satisfy competing objectives.” But that doesn’t mean the efforts aren’t worth it. Taking a long-term approach to bettering our roadways is a benefit to everyone.

At Go Pave Utah, our passion for quality and reliable pavements shows in our work and our practices. We follow new developments closely and apply the best practices available in our market. For any questions regarding asphalt or concrete pavements, reach out to our experts today




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