Asphalt

workers laying asphalt

Why Is Asphalt Quieter To Drive On Than Concrete?

When it comes to paving for roads and driveways, there are quite a few choices. Everything from marble to synthetics to recycled materials make for good composites that can handle pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic. However, when it comes to high-vehicle traffic areas, namely parking lots, roads, and driveways, concrete and asphalt are the main choices. 

Deciding between asphalt and concrete can be tough. Applying the right materials will result in a longer life for the paved surface, less necessary maintenance, and lower costs in the end. Ultimately, asphalt usually wins, especially for outdoor scenarios, and for lessening noise pollution. 

Road noise is one of the biggest complaints about urban and suburban living in the US. Not only do people get irritated by the sound of cars driving around constantly, but it can even lower property values. Have you ever compared the cost of housing next to a highway versus housing a few miles (or even blocks) away? You will notice that the proximity to loud traffic is a major reason people live where they do, and a major factor in home prices.

Why asphalt is superior?

Asphalt paving is almost always better. Why? Various reasons combine to make it more versatile, durable, and easier to maintain.

Asphalt can withstand climate variances more

If you live in an extremely hot, or extremely cold seasonal place, you know what kind of damage can happen to paving. Both asphalt and concrete show these signs. Rutting, cracking, potholes, and the like appear and take ages to repair…the other option is replacing the paving altogether, which is neither cheap nor fast. 

Asphalt is still better at withstanding the weather though. Different asphalt can be made to be porous, so water flows through it and doesn’t cause damage. Asphalt also absorbs heat and has less contraction in cold than concrete. When snow accumulates on a paved surface, asphalt contributes to melting faster than concrete does. In general, moisture evaporates faster from asphalt than concrete. Additionally, asphalt can be seal coated, so it can withstand the weather even more. 

Asphalt is usually cheaper

Asphalt is one of the US’s most recycled materials. Even when a road is replaced, it can simply be pulled up, re-pulverized, and laid again as new asphalt. This makes replacing and laying it in the first place much cheaper. 

Asphalt takes less time to pave

Asphalt paving simply takes less time to set and become usable than concrete. On a busy road this saves people time, money, and inconvenience. 

Asphalt is safer

Higher traction leads to better skid resistance and vehicle handling for asphalt than concrete. This makes everything safer for everyone: cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, wild animals, and anyone else on the road.

What exactly makes asphalt quieter than concrete?

In order to understand the why, we need to know a few terms.

Rigid pavement

This uses concrete to form a stiffer foundation. It has high flexural strength (think force divided by area). It is great for parking lots that are indoors. Cracks or damage often can not be repaired, and become permanent. Additionally, the hardness of it means that it can not absorb sound. You may have even heard your own car engine or breaks echoing in a concrete indoor parking lot.

Flexible pavement

This is made with bituminous – AKA asphalt – materials. The material is laid in multiple layers. As a result, it has some flexibility which can absorb the impacts of fast-moving vehicles extremely well. Its porous nature has many benefits, among them sound reduction.

Bituminous pavement is quieter because of the air bubbles inside of it. These air bubbles absorb sound by up to 3-5 decibels. Decibels are measured on an exponential scale, so this may not seem like much, but it is. For example, 40 decibels is 1/8 as loud as 70 decibels. 

Not only is flexible pavement good at lowering noise, it’s so good that it’s more effective than sound barriers. Those are the big walls you see separating residential neighborhoods from highways. 

So, what’s the takeaway?

  • Flexible pavement is made from bituminous material, AKA asphalt.
  • Asphalt is full of little holes that absorb air and sound waves, making it quieter as cars pass on it.

Developments in quiet asphalt

Quiet pavement is a relatively new development that is being studied all over the US. California and Washington have both been doing extensive research on it. These studies have pointed to asphalt’s ability to absorb sound much better than other paved surfaces, namely concrete. 

In the future, we can expect asphalt to become more flexible by being more porous. It will also use more layers, which will help with decreasing impact stress. 

Are there any advantages to concrete?

So why use concrete at all?

  • Concrete roads can last 20-40 years, 2-4 times longer than asphalt.
  • Vehicles can get 1-7% better fuel efficiency on concrete roads.
  • Lower chances of potholes forming.
  • Better suited to high volume of large vehicles, such as semi trucks.
  • Concrete can be recyclable. 
  • Production of NEW concrete roads is somewhat more environmentally friendly than new asphalt roads.

Concrete isn’t all bad, but it certainly has its limitations

  • Entire slabs need to be replaced because repairing it is so difficult.
  • Costs more and takes longer than asphalt to repair and install.
  • Bumpy rides come from differently-leveled slabs.
  • Can be more dangerous for some vehicles, because there may be space between slabs.
  • Surface does not absorb liquids, chemicals, and other things like concrete does. 

Needless to say, we can safely say it makes more sense to use asphalt as your road paving surface.

Unsure what to pave with?

If you don’t know what paving material is the best for your road, parking lot, or driveway, send us a message. We are a professional, experienced, and multifaceted group of paving contractors, who are ready to provide the best paving surfaces at the best prices. Reliable Paving can help you lay new pavement, repair the old, repaint, and even help with ADA compliance. Save yourself time and money by choosing the right paving.

How Climate Change Affects Asphalt

As the Earth’s climate continually changes, asphalt pavement reflects these changes. How does it change and what can we do about it?

Like it or not, the Earth’s climate is changing. This is hardly something new. Our planet has gone from a geologically super-active inhospitable rock covered in magma and poison gas to the birthplace of life. A few hundred million years ago, the oxygen levels in the air were so high that various species of scorpions could grow to be 2 feet (0.61 m) long. Climate and geological changes have led to massive extinction events, with some eliminating 96% of the planet’s species.

The relatively good weather of the last few thousand years is actually pretty out of character for this planet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s here to stay. Severe weather events continue to multiply, landmasses (like the Indian Continental Plate) are subsumed by the Ocean, and our atmosphere’s composition is changing.

This change affects much of our lives, from growing food to the buildings we live in. Here at Reliable Paving, we like to stay on top of how the changes in the world reflect on what we do. So how does climate change affect asphalt paving? What can we do about it?

What does a changing weather/climate have to do with asphalt anyway?

As you probably know by now, weather changes make a big impact on pavement. UV damage runs its course, and it changes according to how much sun hits the asphalt. But the main culprit of weather damage is water. Water gets in porous asphalt and then changes size when the temperature changes. As the water expands and contracts, asphalt does too. Cracks form, the aggregate loosens, and existing problems will get worse. What’s more, is that liquid in the ground underneath the asphalt can cause frost heave, a big change in the asphalt’s surface level. Ok, so weather definitely effects asphalt. But what about climate change?

Climate change is minor over all, so why should it affect pavement?

From 1880 to 2020 the average land temperature has only gone up by about 1 degreeCelsius (3.8° F), and by 2100 it should be up by about 4 degrees Celsius (7.2° F). That’s not so bad right? Well….unfortunately, 75% of the heat increase since 1880 has happened since 1975. The process is only expected to continue to accelerate.

On top of the over-all heating speeding up, we have more extreme weather. Rather than being a graph that simply slowly plods up, climate change results in the weather being more extreme, both in cold and heat. There is an over all trend towards it being more hot, and the heat levels’ extremities worry us plenty. Extreme weather also is an enormous threat, because events such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and high-wind storms can destroy our paving/road infrastructure.

The threat from extreme weather

Extreme weather is climate change’s most immediate threat to most of us. It can destroy crops, homes, businesses, and entire cities (see: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Of course, severe weather can also destroy our paving infrastructure. So the question that arises is simple: What can we do about it? It’s neither cost-effective nor safe to have highways, roads, parking lots, and roofing (which also uses asphalt) that gets destroyed every few years.

Tougher asphalt

Changing our asphalt’s aggregate mix and binder is the key issue here. Upgrading the binder increases its durability and lifetime. Same goes for aggregate. However, thanks to the existing infrastructure we have, these changes are expensive. Fortunately, the savings come in as we will spend less on maintenance over the lifetimes of these upgraded asphalts.

Different maintenance methods

Although the maintenance for higher-quality asphalt paving is less expensive, it’s different from the usual. Rather than just checking the asphalt for damage, it’s important to look at the wider area around it. Is this area prone to flooding? Drought? Severe storms with high winds? Is there erosion close enough that will make it to the asphalt in the next decade?

For an in-depth look at dealing with climate change’s effects on asphalt, read this study from the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

The threat from global warming

Urban heat islands

As the planet gets hotter and hotter, asphalt doesn’t help. Especially hot areas in cities are created by black asphalt which absorbs the sun’s energy and traps it, further heating the air above and around it. This phenomenon is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect. Asphalt blacktop disproportionately contributes to it. The long and short of it is that asphalt absorbs heat and makes the surrounding areas much hotter.

Toxic gas

When exposed to extreme heat and sunlight, asphalt also releases air pollution. Asphalt is made with petroleum products. When it gets extremely hot and is exposed to sun, it begins to release gasses normally associated with oil products. These gasses go into the air and become part of what the people who live nearby breathe on a daily basis in the summer. Pollutants released include PM 2.5 (tiny particles that aerosolize and damage lungs) and mixtures of harmful organic compounds. According to Science Advances, asphalt is a major nontraditional source of secondary aerosols. As paved roads make up 20% of the built environment, and asphalt is 45% of roofing, this is a big issue to tackle.

Solutions include using different materials. Recycled plastic can be used in roads and roofing. Asphalt can also be coated white, or with a reflective surface, so it can reflect, rather than absorb sunlight and heat.

Reliable Paving can help you avoid creating an urban heat island

If you have a paving job that needs to get done, but you are concerned about the heat or pollution caused by it, then contact us. We can offer environmentally-friendly solutions to your paving needs. With experience totaling more than 35 years, and a well-trained team of over 200 paving contractors, we can handle any job. When you rely on us, you will learn the meaning of “relentless cooperation.” Get your work done well, get your work done reliably, with Reliable Paving.

Concrete Rehabilitation: Slab Fracturing

If you’ve ever seen pavement before, you’ve seen damaged pavement. Even in the best weather in the world, pavement eventually develops ruts, pits, cracks, and more. As it gets worse, it can turn into potholes and uneven surfaces. Finally it crumbles and gives way. One of the bigger problems facing most cities regularly is maintaining its asphalt paving and concrete paving. There are plenty of things that can be done, such as seal coating, hot mix repair, cold mix repair, and full-depth repair. Finally, as a last measure, the pavement can be completely replaced.

One of the keys in repairing and maintaining asphalt is of course cost. Economics plays a big role in any element of construction, and asphalt paving is no different.

The present solution to asphalt repair and longevity

The current solution is asphalt overlaying. Nearly two-thirds of the Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement in the US has been overlaid. It’s a cheap and relatively effective solution to handling asphalt damage. Portland cement concrete is the most common type of general use cement around the world. It is also the basic ingredient of concrete.

However, it has some persistent problems. The first is that cracks at joints appear in the overlay. The second problem is that cracks come through from beneath the overlay, and the overlay itself becomes cracked as well. That type of cracking is referred to as reflective cracking. This means that the solution in the end once the overlay is damaged is full-depth repair or replacement. The problems with those two forms of repair is that they are time consuming and costly.

That’s where slab-fracturing comes into play.

What is slab fracturing?

Slab fracturing is used on PCC before overlaying to increase its structural integrity. Essentially, it means that the damaged pieces of concrete that will be overlaid are further broken. This process may seem counter-intuitive, but it is effective. Damaging the underlying concrete slab helps reduce future damage to the overlay. Slab fracturing is also referred to as rehabilitating concrete.

It is based on the principle that damage to the slab below the overlay reduces stress. It does so by spreading out the load from weight across the whole surface of the concrete. This prevents extremely concentrated loads that can crack and damage individual parts of the paving.  The use of slab fracturing reduces crack at joints, and reduces reflective cracking in overlay. There are three main ways that it is used.

  • Crack and seat (C&S) for PCC without steel reinforcement. This is intended to reduce the slab length of PCC. It does so by producing tight surface cracks.
  • Break and seat (B&S) for PCC with steel reinforcement. This method requires greater effort to break the PCC slabs, rather than simply cracking them. Additionally, the added steel increases the surface strength. It does however, cost more due to the breaking process and the added materials.
  • This process is exactly what it sounds like. It involves breaking down the slabs beneath the overlay into 4-8-inch sized pieces. This method is cost effective, because the rubble remains in place after breaking. That means that there is no transport to or from the worksite.

What is the best method?

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The preferred methods are based on a combination of ease of performance and cost-effectiveness. A survey of stakeholders showed that crack and seat, and rubblization were the most popular. Most likely because they are the cheapest and still highly effective. Of course, some pavement receives extreme use by heavy machinery, construction vehicles, and loaders. This pavement will probably benefit from the steel reinforcement to ensure the overlay doesn’t  crack under the weight.

Is slab fracturing it effective?

Rubblized cement with a 5-inch overlay was highly effective. It inhibited reflective cracking and had little performance differences otherwise. Surface smoothness, rut depth, and other cracking was found to be the same as other surface restoration methods. The other methods it was compared to were minimum and maximum restoration, as well as overlays with sealed and sawed joints. Researchers also  discovered something else: it could be perpetual. That is, rubblized PCC could last indefinitely. It could do so under two conditions. The first was that the overlay was 8 inches or more. The second condition is that the foundation is strong enough. Of course, there would still need to be some maintenance done to seal coat and keep it protected.

It was also possible to prevent reflective cracking with the B&S and C&S methods. In the right conditions, reflective cracking would not happen at all. Even in the wrong conditions, their performance for reflective cracking was quite good.

Is your interest piqued? If you simply can’t get enough concrete slab rehabilitation, you are in luck. Here is the long form report from the NCAT. The NCAT is the National Center for Asphalt Technology.  You’re welcome.

What’s the verdict?

Concrete slab fracturing is a cheap and effective way to rehabilitate concrete. It’s better than replacement and cheaper than other forms of repair. Not only is it strong and low-cost, it’s also better for the environment, requiring less outside materials. In short: rehabilitate, don’t replace.

Does your concrete need some rehab?

If your concrete paving isn’t looking so good, get it fixed reliably. Reliable Paving is a professional, experienced, and dedicated construction contractor crew. With a team of over 200 and experience paving all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, no job is too big. Our services offered are many, including concrete maintenance, seal coating, repairs, replacement, striping, and laying asphalt. Don’t let your paving fall into disrepair any longer. Contact us today to get started on getting your pavement into tiptop shape.

Asphalt and Carbon Sequestration

Greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide

If you are a little bit familiar with the greenhouse effect, you probably know how it works and what the main culprit is. In case you don’t, here’s a quick breakdown: heat gets trapped in the atmosphere according to the level of greenhouse gas currently present. More greenhouse gasses equals more heat trapped. The heat builds up and the climate gets hotter over all.

Carbon comes from natural and human causes. All decaying material, especially plant matter, releases carbon. That is the biggest factor in adding carbon to the atmosphere. Usually it is added as CO2, or carbon dioxide. Now carbon dioxide itself isn’t so bad, and is a natural part of the Earth’s environment. Humans, and nearly every other animal breathes in oxygen, and breathes out CO2. However, it is currently being overproduced, and this is one of the main factors worsening climate change.

Slash and burn deforestation creates enormous quantities of decaying biomatter that in turn makes vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Industry also belches out carbon dioxide on…well, and industrial scale. Cargo shipping alone accounts for about 3% of the whole world’s CO2 emissions. Factories do their damage by releasing tons (literally) of CO2, and other worse gasses, like methane. Finally, agriculture also releases vast amounts of greenhouse gasses. Carbon dioxide isn’t even the worst one, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases are much worse. However, carbon is our focus because it accounts for over 81% of greenhouse emissions.

So what does this have to do with asphalt?

Asphalt plays a big role in carbon sequestration. What is that? It means removing carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it somewhere where it won’t get back out. This in turn reduces carbon’s greenhouse effect, and reduces the effects of climate change. There are two ways to do this right now.

  • Biologic carbon sequestration. This is the storage of atmospheric carbon in vegetation, both land-based and aquatic. The carbon is stored in roots, tree trunks, and the bodies of plants. This is useful, as much vegetation also breathes C02 and helps filter air in general.
  • Geologic carbon sequestration. This is the process of storing C02 in underground geological formations. The carbon dioxide is pressurized until in liquid form, then stored in rock formations. It fits well into porous formations, and can even be used for oil and gas extraction.

This is where asphalt comes into the picture.

Asphalt and the environment

We’ve already mentioned how asphalt is actually not nearly as harmful to the environment as one might think, and how it’s improving its footprint over time. Asphalt is primarily something called aggregate. Aggregate is what it sounds like- a collection of small stones, crushed rock, and little, hard things. It is all kept together by a glue. This glue, or binder, is an oil product. Now, the oil industry is famously bad for the environment. Extraction is awful for local ecologies, and accidents can result in crude oil covering huge swathes of the ocean and land. Fortunately, asphalt is mostly recycled, seriously reducing the need for new oil products. This in turn decreases carbon emissions from extraction. Future carbon is also not but into the atmosphere by the extracted oil later being burned.

But how does asphalt sequester carbon?

The first and main way, is by covering a surface. A surface covered in asphalt has that asphalt trapped inside of it. One thing people may not know about plants is that during the night, their roots absorb oxygen and they expel carbon dioxide. This means that the soil can become loaded with that carbon gas, which gets released into the atmosphere. With asphalt covering the surface of the soil, that gas stays underground. It may seem a bit extreme, but the more of the Earth’s surface we cover in asphalt paving, the more carbon we keep out of the air.

So we should pave as much of the Earth over as possible right? Well…it would have some pretty bad effects in the short run. In the long run though, a 100% paved planet would have a very stable, predictable climate.

Fortunately, asphalt has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Asphalt-porous carbon

New developments in paving technology have led to more porous types of asphalt. This asphalt works just like underground porous rocks that hold carbon. This new material can capture carbon and store over 100% of its weight in carbon. When it is applied to high pressures, of 30 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level, it absorbs CO2. What this means is that it can be used underground at “wellheads.” Wellheads are places where carbon is released in large tubes, often from factories and other big polluters. When the material is released from the pressure, it releases the carbon. This enables it to be “pumped” so that the CO2 can be liquidized and brought to permanent storage. This cheap and easy-to-use material was discovered by Rice University, and you can read all about the specifics here.

The possibilities are endless. Parking lots and roads could be paved with asphalt-porous carbon. It then absorbs underground emissions, preventing thousands of tons of CO2 from entering the air we breathe.

Find out what else asphalt and pavement can do

At Reliable Paving, we believe in more than just doing the best job we can for you. We want to do our work, efficiently, cleanly, and in a way that benefits as many as possible. We make sure to stay on top of the best, most resource-efficient ways to pave and lay asphalt. We are paving contractors with a purpose – unrelenting good service, and a mission to be greener, more efficient, and the best we can be. Contact us today to learn about our environmentally-friendly paving methods, and what we can do for you.

Is Winter a Good Time to Repair Asphalt?

Winter may not be the ideal time to get those crucial asphalt repairs. When is the best time to do it? What repairs can you do in the winter?

Winter weather is one of the main killers of asphalt. When any water gets inside asphalt paving, it expands and contracts with temperature changes. This causes existing problems like cracks and bumps to get worse. Fortunately, there are solutions for fixing your pavement in the winter. It may not be the ideal time for any type of road/parking lot work for various reasons, but it is possible.

Types of asphalt repair

Whether you are getting asphalt cracks sealed, potholes filled, or sections of asphalt replaced, there are two main ways it can be repaired: hot and cold mix.

Hot mix

Hot mix asphalt must stay compact in order to perform properly. If the temperature is too low, it won’t set right. If the outside temperature is too low, it might not even make it to the location without cooling enough to no longer be effective. Hot mix asphalt should only be used when the temperature is going to be consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for at least several days.

Cold Mix

Cold mix asphalt is designed to work in just about any temperature, so it is a great solution for emergency winter fixes. Unlike hot mix, it can’t be paved, so it won’t work for replacing an entire driveway, parking lot, or large swathe of pavement.

Infrared

Some repairs that involve removing damaged asphalt for repairs involve heating. The existing asphalt is heated technology, and then removed in its hotter, more pliable state. Now, this of course is not possible, or prohibitively difficult during winter months. So sometimes just getting the area to be filled ready is not possible when the weather is inclement. Fortunately, infrared can be done just about any time of the year. Its technology enables sub-surface heating that is independent of the ambient temperature.

Other winter conditions to look out for

Besides temperature fluctuations, there is also frequently precipitation during the winter months. Rain, ice, sleet, hail, snow, whatever, it will interrupt your repair work. Be sure that when you  are getting your repairs done, the weather is expected to be clear and dry for enough time for the asphalt to set and be safe for vehicles and pedestrians.

One problem with precipitation, is that even in mild climates, it happens. In the Southern United States, from Florida to Arizona, freezing temperatures are fairly uncommon. Especially persistent freezing temperatures that last more than a few days. This is great for getting hot or cold mix repairs done. However, these states often see higher degrees of precipitation in the winter, putting a hole in your hole-patching plans. Even if the weather isn’t freezing, the application of water to uncompacted asphalt can ruin the patching and prevent compaction.

When is the ideal time to repair asphalt?

Since winter seems like it’s not an option for large-scale repairs and replacement, when is? The ideal time for asphalt repairs are when the temperature is in the mid 70s F. This means that mid-March through early/mid October or November is ideal, as the steady/warm weather enables the pavement to become compacted, smooth, and good to go.

So what can we do when we need repairs in the winter?

If emergency repairs during the winter are non-negotiable, there are still some options.

Wait for good weather

Even in the northern states, it’s not always freezing during the winter. This means that if you have a week or so of temperate weather, you can schedule repairs for this time. Of course, be sure to talk to a trusted paving contractor to ensure that things should go according to plan, and that the repair plan is a good one.

Other options include using technology that works in the winter. Infrared and cold mix asphalt are great options, but of course they have their limitations. Whole parking lots and driveways can’t be paved during freezing weather, so you are best scheduling those bigger projects for the following spring.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

This phrase is a cliché, of course, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. The absolute best thing you can is protect your asphalt pavement in advance.

  • Get your paving seal coated. Seal coating is covering the pavement with..well, a seal. The seal prevents water seepage and further water damage. Doing a seal coat every few years will make your parking lot or driveway last for decades.
  • If you use de-icer, make sure it isn’t too caustic. Salt and other de-icers can act as solvents that break down the binding of asphalt. Don’t continue to use them if you have noticed damage after previous uses. Find something that plays nicer with your pavement.
  • Clear debris. Clearing debris makes further maintenance and cleaning easier. Debris can not only lead to damage, but it is a hazard for people and cars on paving.
  • Fix small problems early. A crack sealed early on is going to be easier to deal with than one that has expanded into a network and requires pavement to be replaced. Potholes should be filled before they grow into giant gaping eyesores.

Here’s a great list from Main Infrastructure in Canada about ways to protect your paving before and during the winter months.

Get the best winter asphalt treatment and maintenance you can

Reliable Paving is ready to help you prepare for winter, and perform winter repairs if you need it. We use hot and cold mix repair methods, and we are happy to schedule spring, summer, and fall work if the job is too big to be done in cold weather. If you want a job done right, get it done by someone who’s reliable. Contact us today, and we can help you with your winter asphalt repairs.

Trails And Walkways: Paving Projects That Improve Lives

Not all asphalt has to go into roads and parking lots.

The vast majority of asphalt paving in the country goes into roads and parking lots. Well, 94% of the roads in the US are made from asphalt, so the number is must be pretty high. About 85% of all asphalt produced is used as a binder in road asphalt concrete. That’s a lot. The rest of the vast majority (10%) is used in roofing – the sealing and weatherproofing in many roofs comes from asphalt binder. That leaves just 5% for other uses. Almost all of the rest is used in sealing and insulating. 

So most asphalt is accounted for in building roads and waterproofing…but what else is it used for? Believe it or not, asphalt, as simple as it seems, can be used to benefit communities in non-traditional ways. Some of the best ways to benefit a location aren’t always massive infrastructure projects. Sure, installing a sewer system/water treatment, internet and phone lines, and building roads are important for developing any community. However, there are some much more subtle and easy ways to spur development and improve people’s lives. And one of those things require asphalt.

Trails, also known as greenways, are paths built for people o enjoy. Usually these paths are in natural areas, by beaches, in forests, or across prairie. They can also go through parks and nearby neighborhoods. These paths typically don’t allow motor vehicles, but they do allow foot traffic, bicycles, roller blades and skates, and other self-propelled means of transportation. 

Why build a trail system?

Good question. What benefits do trails provide that roads don’t? In fact, most people could probably think of the problems that trails don’t solve more easily.

  • Vehicles can’t ride on them, so they can’t be used to transport too many people or things.
  • They are often windy and indirect, so they don’t get people where they want to go efficiently.
  • They tend to be in remote areas, so they don’t take people where they want to go.
  • Trails are for leisure, not utility. 

These are all fair points, but they miss the main point of trails: they are good for people. Trails benefit people’s mental and physical health, and thus provide an over all benefit to the communities that they are in. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of trails and greenways. Asphalt and paving is for more than just cars.

Health benefits

Across all ages and other demographics, when people are nearby trails, they get out more. The benefits to leading more active lives results in happier people and a more productive population. Additionally, the lower medical costs of dealing with healthy people as opposed to unhealthy people means trails can pay for themselves over time. 

  • Trails help control weight and diabetes, as well as cholesterol levels and bone loss associated with aging.
  • The low-impact exercise that is easy to find on trails helps decrease risk of cancers, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. 
  • Easy access to nature is enables people to relax. Studies have shown that spending time in nature does wonders for the mental health of everyone across the board.
  • Short trails enable people to easily get some exercise while going to and from work, school, and or shopping.
  • Trails provide pretty and accessible locations where children can play. Children’s health around trails is improved because they can find places to exercise and play more easily and in nicer settings.
  • A study cited in this in-depth look at trail benefits from the Rails to Trails Conservancy showed that 70% of trail users reported being more active thanks to trail systems nearby.

 

Economic benefits

Trails also provide a boon of economic bonuses to wherever they are. Some of them are in savings (such as lower medical costs in the area because the population is healthier), but many come in the form of increased spending. The ways trails benefit the economy are myriad.

  • Trails increase the property values of nearby homes and businesses.
  • Trails influence business locations and other decisions. As cycling has grown in popularity across the US, numerous restaurants and bars have opened up in otherwise tiny towns. Where did they open? Where cyclists from nearby communities pass through their towns. On longer trails, shopping centers (for trail supplies), and hotels open in order to serve those on long trips.
  • Trails boost spending at local businesses. People come to enjoy trail systems. Along the way, the need to eat and drink too. 
  • Trails provide alternative transportation options. This means people can live happily without cars sometimes. Benefits include:
    • Fuel expenses are lower.
    • Reduced levels of carbon emissions in communities with trails.
    • Less traffic/traffic jams.
    • Less space required for parking and roads.
    • Less environmental impact (fewer roads, traffic, fuel consumption, and parking space required) over all.
  • Trails create higher demand for the areas they are in. They do so because trails make an area more attractive for people to visit and live in. This has several effects:
    • Revitalizing depressed areas. Low income individuals without cars can more easily get around, have jobs and more.
    • Increase property values (as mentioned above). By creating more demand in an area, buildings that were once vacant can be brought back and the whole neighborhood will see the benefits.
  • The money saved from lower medical expenses is also an economic benefit to a community.

 

Trailblazing the way to healthier communities

Here at Reliable Paving, we are interested not only in doing the best jobs we possibly can do on your paving project, but also benefiting your community. We are socially responsible paving contractors who keep up with the ways in which we can benefit you, ourselves, and the world around us. If you are interested in improving your community by bringing in some extra money and making people healthier, contact us for your trail paving project today.

workers laying asphalt

Why Asphalt is the Best Choice for Parking Lot Paving

So you want to build a new parking lot. What should you use? Concrete is always an option, as is various other types of surfacing. Driving around town, it’s pretty noticeable that most parking lots are paved with asphalt. Why is that? Asphalt paving provides a number of benefits that concrete and other materials don’t. 

What about concrete?

The main contender for asphalt parking lots is concrete. Concrete does have some benefits.

  • Concrete is versatile. There are many design options that you can use with concrete that aren’t an option with asphalt.
  • Long lifespan with low maintenance. Concrete lasts a long time, and requires comparatively little upkeep.
  • Concrete holds up better in intense heat. An asphalt parking lot can soften and become oily in extremely hot weather, concrete will maintain its integrity. The lighter color of concrete also stops it from absorbing as much of the sun’s rays as blacktop asphalt does.

What other options are there?

Brick, gravel, and other permeable barriers can be used for driveways and parking lots as well. Some of them offer a better ecological impact, some simply look better. There are myriad different choices you can use, and they all come with their pros and cons. Here’s a good article about the different alternatives (including concrete) that can be used for driveways. Why driveways and not parking lots? Because parking lots see a lot more traffic. They require more maintenance, and that maintenance has to be done in a timely and cost-effective manner. There’s a reason you don’t see too many brick commercial parking lots.

Why we still think asphalt is the best

Although asphalt paving may not be perfect, it still outshines its competitors for a number of reasons.

Safety

Even the smoothest asphalt gives tires a great grip on the road. It’s why you don’t see highways made out of concrete. Asphalt’s aggregate construction provides ample traction for all kinds of wheels. One problem that permeable parking lots can have is that natural soil comes through to the surface. This may be intended, but in cold climates, that same topsoil freezes and makes for a slippery, dangerous hazard.

Sustainability

Asphalt one of the most recycled materials in the world. About 80% of asphalt that is removed from streets, highways, and parking lots during maintenance winds up being recycled. The ability that asphalt has to be reused/renewed isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for your wallet too. It means that maintenance projects can reuse damaged asphalt, making expensive shipping of materials to the site less necessary. It also means that when you are having your asphalt touched-up or serviced, the asphalt being used to replace it is coming from a local nearby source, not a new material being mined halfway around the world. 

Asphalt is versatile

There’s a reason it’s the most commonly-used material for parking lots. Now matter the size of the lot that is required, asphalt can get the job done. It can make lots with different thickness and area. The thickness of the asphalt can help determine its longevity. Why do you think you see asphalt used for driveways, streets, highways, and parking lots? Because it’s a useful material for the different requirements that each surface has. 

Other uses for asphalt involve water storage, erosion prevention, and flood control.

  • It can be used as a coating to water-proof wood, building foundations, and other materials. 
  • Parts of cars and trucks are even lined with asphalt to make them run more quietly. 
  • Black asphalt paint is used to paint over graffiti.
  • It can be used to seal wounds and stave off bacteria.
  • Asphalt is even used in paintings.

How is this relevant to your parking lot? Well, if you have lots of asphalt sitting around your construction site after paving, then you can probably find plenty of other uses for it.

Longevity

Asphalt has a pretty good lifespan. Not only is it tough and capable of lasting for years on its own, it can be maintained and improved to last even longer. A little preventative maintenance can make asphalt last for decades more. 

Sealcoating is one of the most common types of asphalt improvement. This basically means that the asphalt is topped with a covering that prevents liquids from getting inside.

Crack filling and hole repair is easy and can be done with recycled asphalt from the same site or other sources. The recycling aspect also helps keep the costs down on this type of maintenance.

Getting rid of debris also helps the asphalt live longer. Small stones can crack the asphalt when sandwiched between a heavy vehicle’s tire and the pavement. Simply keeping your lot clean can help make it last.

Easy and quick to pave

Time is money, and asphalt is able to be laid and cool/dry quickly. This means that your business minimizes customer loss due to maintenance and parking lot installation. A material that takes longer to dry will mean clients can’t park at your business for more time. 

Asphalt reduces noise

If you have ever been in a concrete parking lot with a veneer, you know the racket that car tires can make. Even a slow turn can produce a high-pitched squealing. Asphalt can reduce noise by up to 50%, making for less stressful driving and happier neighbors. 

Start on your asphalt parking lot

If you’re convinced that asphalt is the way to go for your parking lot, Reliable Paving is happy to help. With over 35 years of experience, and 200-plus person team of paving contractors, Reliable can handle big jobs and little jobs while being safe, timely, and cost-effective. Maybe you are certain that you need a new asphalt driveway, maybe you aren’t sure what kind of pavement you want. Send us a message today, and we will be happy to guide you through the whole process, from planning to paving. 

Parking Lot Winter Damage

Winter weather varies across the continental US, but a few constants remain. Firstly, whether you are in Washington state or Florida, it’s colder. Some states experience deep freezes lasting months, some just have colder temperatures in general. Either way, it’s guaranteed that your temperatures will be lower in the winter months than the spring, summer, and fall. Another constant across many states in the winter is more precipitation. There are winter rains, snows, sleet, freezing rain, and snow melt. Whether your state is blanketed in snow for much of the winter, or you get a few light dustings throughout the cold months, there is more water to deal with. Finally, the nature of the business you receive changes over the winter. Schools see a down-tick as they have winter holidays. Outdoor businesses often also see downswings in winter business, especially if they are near beaches or based on summer activities, like mountain biking, swimming, or surfing. Some businesses see massive upswings. A ski resort will probably have more traffic on its parking lot in winter than a kayak rental shop will. Additionally, during the colder months, people drive more. Walking and cycling to businesses becomes less feasible, so some businesses that get visitors year-round can expect even more vehicles on the parking lot in winter. 

There are plenty of factors that affect your asphalt pavement in the winter. We can help you analyze those factors, and mitigate them.

Colder weather

Whether your state is nestled in the subtropics, hanging out in the dry desert, or up against the Canadian border, it’s going to be colder in winter. The main problem that happens with asphalt during the winter isn’t actually sustained cold, it’s changing temperatures. As temperatures fluctuate, chunks of material expand and contract. This is especially true for parking lots. Parking lots are essentially giant chunks of asphalt paving in the earth. As winter temperatures change, the pavement changes in size. So does the earth that the parking lots are placed in. The size changes in the soil and the asphalt don’t always match up, both substances have extremely different compositions. Asphalt tends to have less water, and harder, denser material than soil. Earth, depending on the location, can have a lot more water, resulting in more expansion during cold winter months. Either way, the friction and squeezing of the pavement by the earth can cause cracking as tension is added and released. This is especially prominent in typically wet places that have cold, intense winters. 

Another big problem with the cold weather is that water that has leaked into the asphalt expands as well. This can exacerbate existing cracks, as the water erodes the asphalt just as it does in rocks. Water in small cracks expands and causes those cracks to expand with it. This is called frost heave. 

When the temperature fluctuations are faster and more severe, expect more damage from these types of cracking.

Winter precipitation

Snow is a big problem for asphalt in the winter. The sitting water that accumulates on top of pavement can melt and refreeze time after time. This causes the water to seep into the asphalt, and then freeze, worsening existing cracks, and forming more, as mentioned above. Additionally, when snow does melt altogether, as can happen often during the winter, the asphalt will be left with large puddles of standing water, which need to be cleared. Long story short: you don’t want water sitting on top of your parking lot, it will only lead to damage.

Another danger of having snow/ice on the lot is that it becomes slippery, and markings are hard to see. Parking lot accidents injure over 60 thousand people every year. This risk gets worse in the winter because of the lack of traction due to ice and snow. Not being able to see the markings on the lot doesn’t help anyone either.

Tools used to reduce snow accumulation also can damage the lot. So if you are coating your lot with chemicals, be extra careful and pay attention to what you are using. Snow plows can actually damage the lot quite a bit as well. They can rip of the seal coating when scraping the pavement, leaving new openings for future snow melt to get into.

Well, my state doesn’t get much – or any – snow, so I don’t have to worry, right? Not exactly. You can still expect winter rains, storms, and cold water to do a number on your lot. Even in places like Texas, where the snow only lasts about a week or less on average, it still melts and needs somewhere to go. 

The main damage that comes from winter precipitation is cracks and potholes. Water building up on the lot can seep in, cracking it, and eventually breaking out large chunks of pavement. The snow melt chemicals and damage from snow plows can make this damage worse, and cause the markings on the lot to fade.

Here is an in-depth winter parking lot and sidewalk maintenance manual. It can give you the specifics on how best to care for your paving.

Mitigating winter damage

If you wish to decrease winter damage, Reliable Paving can help. We are a large team of experienced paving contractors. During the winter, we can help you with everything you need to keep your parking lot in tip-top shape. 

Our advice on maintenance:

  • Parking lot inspections to maintain your lot’s standards.
  • Building/maintaining a proper drainage system for winter snows and rains.
  • Keeping the lot clean so that chemicals and water don’t build up.
  • Get a snow-removal team on-call if you get a lot of snow. These teams can remove ice too.
  • Repainting/restriping.
  • Crack sealing.
  • Seal coating.
  • Pothole patching.

Fortunately, we can do most of the above list on our own. For anything we can’t do, we’ll point you in the right direction. If you want a parking lot that is properly sealed for the winter, has good drainage, and is tough enough for your needs, Reliable is the best choice. Contact us today whether you want to restripe, fix damage, repave, build drainage, make a new lot, or if you have any other asphalt paving needs. 

The History of Asphalt

Without asphalt, most motor vehicles would be almost useless. Asphalt pavement is one of the defining features of modern society, enabling easy and cheap transportation. It’s all around us, every day, but most people don’t know about its origins.                                                                                                                           

Asphalt, or bitumen, is a viscous, black, almost solid form of oil. It is found naturally, and also in a refined state. Its most common use nowadays is in roads (where approximately 70% of asphalt goes). Most people regard it as a generally new invention. However, asphalt actually has a long history, going back to ancient times, where it had various uses. We’re going to look at asphalt’s uses over history, focusing on innovations and developments from the last 100 years, especially in the United States. For a long, in depth history of paving and asphalt all over the world look here.

 

Ancient Asphalt                                                                               

Ancient Indus valley civilizations used asphalt for waterproofing, dating back to about 5000 BC. It was used for adhesive and waterproofing by the Sumerians and Babylonians as well. The ancient Egyptians used bitumen in the embalming process, getting their bitumen from the Dead Sea. In ancient Japan, items were made by boiling bitumen down to finer ingredients and then forming it. In the ancient Americas, bitumen was used as the sharp points of arrows and spears, as well as waterproofing canoes. It could also be heated in pots to drive away mosquitoes.

The word asphalt comes from the ancient Greek asphatos, which means “to secure.”

Asphalt was used throughout the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East, as a waterproofing and sealing agent up until the 1800s. 

 

Modern Asphalt

The First Asphalt Roads in the Early 1800s

The Champs-Elysee in Paris was paved in 1824, using natural asphalt. This is generally regarded as the first modern asphalt road. 

Around the same time, in Scotland, roads were being built with broken stones. They were later joined with hot tar, producing a surface known as “tarmacadam.” Hot tar was actually used to ease maintenance and prolong the life of the road, as well as to reduce dust.

These early roads paved the way for the massive motorway developments that would take place in the 20th century.

 

Asphalt Use in the United States

The first asphalt/bitumen mixtures in the US were used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and roads, starting in the late 1860s. 

In 1870, the first true asphalt pavement, derived from a sand mix was laid in New Jersey. It was successful enough that the same builder went on to pave Pennsylvania in Washington DC.                                                                                                                   

Asphalt pavement caught on quick in the United States, as it provided a much more durable surface to roads than traditional dirt or gravel.

 

20th Century Changes

Until the early 1900s, most asphalt in the US came from natural sources. The first modern asphalt production facility was built in 1901 in Massachusetts. By the early 1900s, production of refined asphalt superseded natural asphalt. The production process became mechanized and industrialized to take advantages of economies of scale. This facility used drum driers and drum drier mixers, mechanizing the process that was once stirring asphalt by hand. By the 1920s, the first mechanically-laid asphalt was installed.                                                                                                                                   

 

The Automobile

Nothing laid the foundation for the wide-scale used of asphalt in the US like the advent of the motorcar. State and local governments began to receive innumerable requests to build better roads as more Americans acquired cars. This huge increase in demand led to innovations in asphalt production and the laying of pavement. 

 

The Second World War

In the 1940s, the building boom of WWII dramatically increased the demand for asphalt even further. It needed to be produced and laid at a great pace. The demand largely came from the increase in enormous military aircraft. They required extremely durable surfaces for takeoff and landing. 

 

The 1950s-2000s Innovation and Improvement

1950s and 1960s

Electronics began to be used soon after in asphalt production. By the 1950s and 1960s, large parts of the asphalt manufacturing and laying process was automated. Electronic leveling and screening controls, and extra-wide finishers that could lay two lanes at once came into use in the late 60s. 

Asphalt construction in the 50s was a big, dirty, dusty business. By the 1960s, air pollution became a major concern. Asphalt manufacturers began to become more environmentally friendly — and thus more efficient. 

The 1970s and on

The main thrust of asphalt production in the latter-half of the 20th century was quality improvement. Economies of scale had been effectively achieved with automation and mechanization, so quality becamRecycling asphalt was actually very common in the early 20th century, but the rise of new asphalt refineries in the 1950s made it cheaper to get new than recycled. The 1970s energy crisis showed the importance of reusing existing materials. Recycling asphalt became common again. To this day, asphalt is the most recycled material in the US.e the new focus.

In 1986, the National Center for Asphalt Technology was founded. The NCAT is the top location in the world for research and development. Thanks to centralizing research and science regarding asphalt, the last 50 years have seen asphalt pavement start to be used in a huge variety of ways and locations. 

High durable mixtures are used for runways and loading docks. Asphalt has been consistently improved to be more efficient, environmentally friendly, longer lasting, and smoother.

Asphalt today bears little resemblance to its first uses seaming together baskets, or even its first uses on roads in the US. However, looking back, the progress made in this ubiquitous substance is astounding, especially over the last 100 years. 

 

Do You Need Asphalt Work Done? 

If you have a paving project in your near future, look no further than Reliable Paving. We are a full-service asphalt paving contractor who can help you with each step of your project. Whether you want something new built, maintenance performed, or you have questions about a project, contact us. With over 35 years of experience, and a team of over 200 people, no job is too big, or beyond our abilities.

planning a job in the summer

Summer is the Best Season to Do Asphalt Paving

Maybe you need a parking lot seal coated, maybe you need repairs done on a drive, maybe you want to expand your business and thus need more sidewalk and parking lot. Whatever the reason for your yearly paving project, there is definitely a best time to get it done. Late spring through summer make for the best times to get asphalt and paving projects done.

Longer Setting Times

The fact that the summer heat keeps the asphalt from hardening might sound like a problem. Asphalt that takes too long to set means you have an unusable area of road or pavement that holds up business. It also means that there is more room for error when the pavement is being laid and shaped in the first place, right?

In fact, it’s the opposite. When asphalt takes longer to set, it gives paving crews a longer time to work with it. Paving crews have a whole host of equipment for flattening asphalt as they lay it. Things like smoothing irons, lutes, and even steamrollers are all used after laying. They help flatten the asphalt, creating a smooth, uniform surface. In colder temperatures, the asphalt takes much less time to set (harden) after it is laid. This means the odds of having bumps and ridges is much higher.

Summer is the best time to lay asphalt, because it gives pavement contractors longer to smooth it and set it properly.

In 40° F weather, a 1.5-inch deep only has 16 minutes available for compaction. The same thickness (1.5 inches) takes 24 minutes in 80° F weather. Similarly, 3-inch thick asphalt has about a 45-minute compaction window in 40° F weather, and over 65-minute window in 80° F weather. On this page there’s a handy chart of when asphalt is workable according to its thickness and temperature.

Greater Stability

The summer’s warmth also helps with a few other parts of the setting process as well. The consistent warm temperatures of summer days usually means that the asphalt is much more uniform when it is laid as well. This means that the likelihood of air bubbles is much less. When the asphalt is throughout its thickness it is not only easier to work with, but also much more resistant to damage. 

One of the main ways in which asphalt incurs damage is through water seeping into small cracks and then air bubbles. When the water expands and contracts with the temperature, those small cracks become bigger ones. Over time, things like ruts and potholes will form as well. 

Regardless of the season, asphalt should be smooth, flat, and uniform. This gives it the longest life and prevents the most damage. It’s easiest to lay asphalt this way during the summer, as the high temperatures allow it to be worked more carefully.

More Time to Work

Often asphalt laying can be done by machine. But just as often, it requires labor-intensive handiwork. The surface asphalt has to be smoothed, and raked by hand. Asphalt placed in a cramped area might not be able to get a steamroller to fit, so it may need to be compressed manually, or with a hand-controlled compactor. 

We already know that summer provides warmer temperatures for working with asphalt. Another summer benefit is longer daylight hours. Longer hours simply means that there is more time to work safely, easily, and cheaply. Many pavement contractors will charge higher costs for working in the dark or at night due to the increased risk. 

Seal Coating Dries Faster in the Summer

After placing any asphalt, especially for parking lots and driveways, a paving crew will apply sealant. This material does exactly what its name implies. It coats the pavement in a breathable, durable, protective shell. This shell enables the asphalt to be used for longer by essentially weatherproofing it. The seal plugs pores and tiny holes in the asphalt that would normally allow water and other solvents in. Just preventing damage from liquids getting in the pavement is far more cost effective, and seriously extends the life of the asphalt. 

Warm asphalt absorbs sealant better than cool asphalt. Sealant normally takes about one to three days to dry — depending on the humidity and temperature. 

Seal Coating is Easier to do in the Summer

Sealant requires a temperature of over 50° F, and a 24-hour period without heavy rain. This is a much easier feat to accomplish in the summer than in most other seasons. Read more about proper seal coating here.

Better Weather

We know that summer can bring out some bad weather. Tornado Alley extends from Northern Texas to South Dakota. Unfortunately, with climate change and more accurate meteorology, we’ve seen that the high-risk tornado zone in the US is much larger, including a greater swathe of the South and Midwest. Tornadoes, hailstorms, heavy winds and rain…these are all parts of summer in much of America.

Summer is still one of the most reliable paving times though. The steady days of no rain, and warm, consistent weather make it great for planning and executing paving and asphalt jobs. The summer heat, combined with humidity, make the night-day temperature differential smaller. Freezes aren’t a concern, and that is definitely another plus. Finally, less inclement weather is good for any construction project. Anything that helps work get done within-budget, and on-time is a huge benefit.

Looking for Help With Your Summer Paving Project?

If you are thinking about getting a project done over the summer, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reliable Paving is a top-notch paving contractor, serving Texas and surrounding states. With over 35 years of experience, 19 crews with over 200 employees, and numerous paving services, we are ready to meet your needs. If you have any questions about your summer project, want a quote, or just need some advice, get in touch with us today.