What is the Future of Roads?

What is the Future of Roads?

With summer quickly approaching it reminds us of the beginning of construction season for many cities. While traditionally many roads will undergo repairs, we are focused on exploring not only what the repair work could be but also the best material that roads should be made of to avoid future repairs. 

image © Angus MacRae

image © Angus MacRae

Asphalt Roads

Since it's initial invention in 1870, the popularity of asphalt has skyrocketed. It seems like every road travelled on in the present day is constructed from the material. This could be because aside from being a cheap building material, the pavement produces little noise, is easy to repair and requires minimal effort to maintain it. 

Even though the material is easy to repair and maintain, the downside of using asphalt is that it is less durable, weaker than other road materials and is harsh for the environment. 

image © LHoon

image © LHoon

Concrete Roads

While asphalt has been the most popular choice for road construction, recently people have been advocating for a switch to concrete from asphalt. That is because concrete is known to be a longer lasting and stronger material compared to asphalt. This however, doesn't factor out that it is more costly to lay and maintain. 

image © Jeff Wallace

image © Jeff Wallace

Gravel Roads

Some cities have recently been reconsidering gravel roads instead of paying for road repairs. This is because  gravel roads mean lower construction and maintenance costs, the reduced speed of vehicles that travel the road, and maintenance that can be repaired within a municipal highway department. 

Of course however, there are also complaints with gravel roads such as the noise, the dust, the lack of stability for larger vehicles, and the bumpiness of the ride. 

composite-roads.jpg

Composite Roads

While a road cannot be initially formed with composite materials, they are used to maintain, rehabilitate, and enhance damaged roads. This is one of the most popular renewal methods for asphalt roads and is why you can often see darker lines in the road since this is the composite material in place. 

So what is the future of roads? 

The true answer is that it is undecided.

While some cities will continue to predominately use asphalt, other have been considering concrete or returning to gravel. This however, doesn't mean that even within a city all roads will match materials since many roads are decided on a case by case basis. So since each material has it's benefits and disadvantages what we may see more of is a diversity in roads rather than a conformity. 


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Source: Global Road Technology  Coverphoto: KenC1983

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