Roads fulfil a crucial function in modern society, providing increased mobility for people, goods and services. The have played a key role in European progress and continue to drive socio- economic growth,
Asphalt road surfaces offer many benefits, including cost efficiency, reduction in noise pollution, improved safety and comfort, durability and recyclability. Using asphalt materials in road construction and maintenance can improve conditions for all road users and new technologies are making asphalt the only sustainable road material of choice.
Use of asphalt road surfaces can significantly reduce noise both inside and outside the car, helping to prevent accidents by alleviating a source of stress that contributes to driver fatigue. Standard asphalt roads have the lowest noise levels of all traditional road surfaces and the more recent development of porous and silent asphalts have reduced noise levels even further. A standard asphalt surface produces half the noise generated by a standard concrete surface, and porous asphalt reduces this by a further 50%.
New asphalt technology ensures rapid dispersal and drainage of surface water, reducing water spray and therefore, improving visibility for the driver in wet conditions. The newer porous asphalt materials dramatically reduce blinding spray, and by dispersing surface water they also reduce the risk of aquaplaning and increase the visibility of road markings.
Drainage and texture of the road surface are the two crucial elements that aid skid resistance. Much research has been dedicated to the removal of water and provision of vehicle tyre grip.
The drainage capability of porous asphalts and precision in aggregate mix play a vital role in skid resistance. Asphalt surfaces that provide higher levels of skid resistance can be used where safety is paramount, for example, outside schools or where there are extreme road gradients or bends.
The properties of asphalt roads means that they can be easily opened and quickly reinstated almost immediately. This is very important for general road maintenance in order to reduce the occurance of pot holes and to extend the lifetime of the road structure, providing a properly maintained, safe, smooth road surface for vehicles.
Asphalt roads are fast to construct, and because asphalt effectively needs no “cure” time, motorists can use roadways as soon as the last roller leaves the construction zone. This means fewer delays and safer roads for the traveling public. The speed and ease of access is also important to allow the installation or replacement of ducting and cabling for utility services, such as communication, water, gas and electricity, which is crucial in minimising the associated congestion and driver frustration.
Another recent asphalt advance has been the development of coloured or textured surfaces. These are increasingly used as a safety mechanism to make it easier for drivers to identify lanes set aside for special uses, such as bus lanes, bus stops and cycle paths.
Coloured asphalt is also used to alert driver attention to dangerous areas, such as hidden junctions or sharp bends, as well as areas requiring special safety precautions, such as outside schools.
Asphalt is 100% recyclable and is routinely milled and re-laid along with fresh materials, saving money and preserving non-renewable natural resources. Recycling also reduces the use of virgin quality gravel, preserves landfill and saves transport.
Asphalt surfaces can be ‘tailor-made’ – appropriately formulated and designed to support the traffic load and climatic conditions of a specific road.
There are asphalt solutions for motorways, urban, suburban and rural roads and its flexibility is particularly useful in coping with the stresses of large traffic loads on bridges. In areas where roads have to cope with frequent freezing and thawing, thanks to the elasticity of bitumen, asphalt surfaces can be designed to tolerate extreme temperature cycles.