Asphalt paving covers 94% of the roads in the United States. Some of the roads are full-depth asphalt while many others are covered with asphalt to reinforce the concrete foundations. There is at least one asphalt plant in every congressional district with about 4,000 plants total in the country. Asphalt gets people from their homes to schools, places of employment, houses of worship and medical facilities.
Asphalt paving goes by many different names such as tarmac, macadam, plant mix, bituminous, asphalt concrete or blacktop. Asphalt paving is a mixture of several different materials. It is mostly sand, stone and gravel. About 5% of the mix is asphalt cement, a petroleum material that keeps the pavement together. Asphalt contains a bitumen binder that makes the material extremely durable.
History of Asphalt
Asphalt came to the U.S. as a building material in the mid-1800s. It was originally used for sidewalks. Builders quickly saw its advantages and began using asphalt for roadways. Nathan B. Abbott filed a patent on the material in 1871, and fierce competition to patent asphalt paving arose. By 1907, builders were using refined asphalt in place of natural asphalt. Construction methods were gradually improved as the automobile became more common through the masses.
Advantages of Asphalt
The reason asphalt is the most commonly used roadway material is its distinct advantages. As the U.S.’s most recycled material, asphalt offers a cost-effective solution for the increasing demands on the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Asphalt is an entirely reusable material, making it highly sustainable. Asphalt paving is also cost-effective because of the high speed of construction for roadways compared with other materials like concrete. Also, the material is high-performing, providing smooth surfaces, low noise levels and increased highway safety.
Overall, asphalt paving is the superior choice for roadways. The cost-effective material creates smooth, safe rides for people all over the nation. The material has a rich history, and as new developments increase so will asphalt’s numerous advantages.