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You Want a Product that Works in Wet Conditions; We Went a Step Further

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Testing UPM® Permanent Pavement Repair Material Underwater

Permanence. When it comes to pavement repair products for filling potholes, patching utility cuts and repairing roadways, the ideal solution is a permanent one.

There are a number of factors that influence the permanence of a pavement repair solution: workability, cohesion and film thickness to name a few. One of the most important factors, given the unpredictability of both Mother Nature and potholes, is stripping – or whether or not the mix will perform in wet conditions. (more…)

Snow Plow Damage on Asphalt

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blog05Snow removal services are almost mandatory when it comes to operating a business in the Snow Belt. With inches piling up within hours, salt cannot be your only solution.

However, companies should take into consideration potential damage their parking lots will incur throughout the winter months and budget for a little more cushion when it comes to repair maintenance. But what are some other preventative measures that can be taken?

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A Common Language for Pavement Preservation

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Which Approach to Pavement Preservation Do You Take?

blog01In order to have efficient conversation regarding pavement preservation, it’s probably best that we get on the same page in regard to the types of maintenance being undertaken. Regardless of how little or well-prepared any agency is, they probably take part in each of the three types of pavement preservation related to managing the assets that are your roads.

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Save Money with an Asphalt Rejuvenator

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Consider Pavement Rejuvenation Before It’s Too Late

Think of pavement as you would skin. A baby’s skin is resilient, smooth, unblemished. Over time, harmful UV rays and general wear and tear will leave unprotected skin dry, cracking, wrinkled. Pavement rejuvenation products, like properly applied skin care and sunscreen, will help preserve the resiliency of the pavement and delay the need for costly complete resurfacing.

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What Are Your State’s Roads Costing You?

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Whether it’s replacing blown tires or readjusting vehicle alignment, the cost of just maintaining a healthy operating vehicle can be exhausting. But what you may have not realized is that the condition of the roads you are driving on could be adding to that cost. In fact, according to The Washington Post, the average urban driver spends $515 a year on car repairs as a direct result of poor road maintenance.  (more…)

How a Road is Paved

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Have you ever stopped to think about the different steps needed to pave a road?

There’s little doubt, most of us view road construction as an extreme annoyance, something that slows us down as we try to make our way to our final destinations. But, when you stop and think about it — with a truly unbiased opinion — the sight of a road construction crew rolling out a brand new batch of asphalt should be a cause for celebration, wonder and awe, not frustration, annoyance and anger.

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Asphalt Paving Throughout History

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A brief look at how asphalt pavement has transformed the landscape

paved roadsToday, asphalt paving has become a sight so common, we seemingly take it for granted. In fact, it’s so common that 96% of all paved roads and streets in America are asphalt. Given the enormity of that number, it might be hard to imagine a time when our cities and countryside weren’t, at least partially, shaped by asphalt paving.

However, it wasn’t too long ago when the asphalt road was so rare, it inspired wonder and awe. Take for an example, renowned author of Little House of the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of a wagon journey through Topeka, Kansas in 1894:

“In the very midst of the city, the ground was covered by some dark stuff that silenced all the wheels and muffled the sound of hoofs. It was like tar, but Papa was sure it was not tar… It was like magic.”

It’s amazing if you think about at it. Just a little over 125 years ago asphalt was so rare, it was described as being “like magic.” Compare that to today, when it has become so commonplace, we barely give it a second glance as miles and miles of it disappear beneath the wheels of our cars.

And so with that in mind, we thought it would be fun to explore a brief timeline of the history of asphalt:

625 B.C.: The First Recorded Asphalt Road

asphalt road625 B.C. marks the first recorded evidence of asphalt being used in road construction. However, it is important to note that before that time asphalt had been a widely accepted building material, commonly used as mortar or water sealant.

500 B.C.:  Ancient Greece Explores the Properties of Asphalt

Did you know, the word asphalt comes from the Greek work “asphatos,” which means to secure? This may have something to do with the simple fact that Greece took full advantage of asphalt’s building properties. More than just for roads, they used it in ship caulking, waterproofing, building walls, and even embalming mummies.

1595: Natural Asphalt Discovered in the “New World”

asphaltLong before Europeans ever stepped foot on shore, the natives of the “new world” had already discovered the advantages of using asphalt as an adhesive for constructing tools, walls, homes and, even paths. So, it should come as no surprise that Sir Walter Raleigh discovered a lake of asphalt when he arrived on the island of Trinidad in 1595.

1824: The First Modern Asphalt Road

In 1824, large blocks of natural asphalt rock were used to pave the Champ-Elysses, a wide boulevard in Paris. This event was a huge undertaking, ultimately resulting in the first modern asphalt road.

1870: America’s First Asphalt Road

asphalt streetThe first application of asphalt paving took place in Newark, N.J in 1870. A product of Belgian chemist Edmund J. Desmelt, this modern equivalent of the asphalt paving we use today was put down in front of City Hall on William street.

1907: The Automobile and the Rise of Refined Petroleum Asphalt

Until about 1900, just about all asphalt used in the United States came from natural sources. However, as the automobile rose in popularity, an increased demand for better roads led to innovations in both producing and laying asphalt. This included making the switch to refined petroleum-based asphalt pavement, as well as the introduction of the mechanical drum mixers and spreaders.

1956: Congress Passes The Interstate Highway Act

asphalt highwayWith the passing of the Interstate Highway Act in 1956, 51 billion dollars were awarded to states to improve their road construction. The largest public works project to date, this new bill encouraged the adoption of many new and revolutionary asphalt paving techniques and equipment, including electronic leveling controls, extra-wide finishers for paving two lanes at once and vibratory steel-wheel rollers.

1970s: The Energy Crisis and Recycled Asphalt

Today, with more than 70 million metric tons recycled each year, asphalt pavement is America’s most recycled product. The big reason for this was the energy crisis of the 1970s, which forced Americans to rethink the importance of conserving and recycling their natural resources.

2005: More Than 2.5 Million Miles of Asphalt Road

road repairsThere is little doubt that asphalt has had a transformative effect on the American landscape. That fact became extremely clear in 2005 when the Federal Highway Administration reported that 2,601,490 miles of American roadways were paved with some variety of asphalt.

Today: Asphalt Roadways Continue Their Transformation

The asphalt road that Laura Ingalls Wilder encountered more than 125 years ago may bear little resemblance to the roads of today. However, it’s important to note that new advancements take place in asphalt paving and concrete repair on almost a daily basis. And so, it’s quite possible that in another 125 years, the future roadway may take on a shape and form that is barely recognizable by today’s standard.

Road Construction: Past and Present

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The Path to Building a Better Road

Road construction is one of the world’s oldest forms of construction. Long before mankind ever thought about engineering giant structures capable of touching the clouds, our concerns were a lot more immediate in nature: “How do we get from here to there?”

road construction

In fact, the earliest evidence of road construction dates back to 4,000 BC in the Mesopotamia area. These primitive structures, primarily made of sticks and stones, were the end result of a need to increase the speed of travel between food, water and habitation sources. It was because of these early roads that humans were able to settle down and begin forming the world’s first permanent communities.

Road Construction Advancement in the 19th Century

Road construction techniques have, of course, changed greatly since those primitive days. As communities turned into villages, and villages transformed into large city networks, the study of traffic patterns led to tremendous advancements in the methods and materials used to build, maintain and repair roads. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century when construction techniques truly evolved into a force capable of transforming a countryside.

During the 19th century, road building machines, such as motor graders and plows started making their appearance on construction sites. Other steam powered tools, such as the shovel and excavator, were put to use clearing and reshaping the landscape. Adding to this transformative era, Scottish engineers, Thomas Telford and John Loudon McAdam went to work designing better road construction techniques. The pair invented the modern tar road, and they are credited with coming up with the system of raising a road’s foundation to improve drainage.

The Asphalt Road of Today

Road construction has come a long way since those early days of sticks and stones. Today, 96% of all paved roads and streets in the U.S. are surfaced with asphalt. This is an incredible figure, especially considering asphalt was not used in road construction until 1824.

What’s even more incredible is the versatility in which road construction techniques can now be employed to lay down new roads. Modern equipment allows us to readily reshape and form the landscape. As the saying goes, “we can move mountains” (or tunnel through them) in the quest to build a better, straighter road. In addition, advancements in asphalt material and concrete mix have worked to ensure that the modern road will continue to be here for years to come.