Pavements

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Asphalt and Paving in Summer 2020

Predictions and analysis of the demand for paving work that will be done during the summer of 2020

COVID-19 Has Changed Almost Everything

It’s safe to say that COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, has changed the world. Almost every facet of life is now different. Masks are required in public, and in many other enclosed spaces (as well as private businesses). Large-group get-togethers like concerts won’t be happening any time soon. Almost every aspect of life has changed, and most of it for the worse.

Additionally, business is down in general. Restaurants and entertainment venues are operating at half-capacity if they’re open at all. Many businesses have closed, and won’t ever reopen. 

But what does that mean for paving works this summer? Roads are still being traversed, and parking lots still need to be safe for vehicles and pedestrians alike.

You’ve come to the right place to get that exact question answered.

 

Asphalt and Paving Works in Mid-2020

So, what about construction, and specifically paving? Riding in hot from a strong market in 2019, the asphalt and paving industry look to be in for a great 2020. 

But what about the market downturn? How has that changed the outlook for paving projects?

Fortunately, asphalt and paving seem to have weathered the storm. As we move into the middle of the year and safety measures are solidly in place against the virus, this corner of the world can move on with just a few key safety measures in place. 

 

Early 2020

With “shovel ready” projects booked from 2019, plus some hefty government funding, 2020 looked to be a boon year for the paving industry. Federal highway funding increased by $6 Billion in 2017, from $46 Billion.

Despite cautioning that business might take a serious downturn in March, however, it seems most projects have been going on as planned. Paving, particularly as infrastructure, is essential for any community, and so the paving workers were considered essential.

Here are some of more reasons why the paving industry can plan full steam ahead this year:

  • Incomplete projects from last year. Federal funding for 2019 wasn’t released until February 2019, so many 2019 projects are still incomplete and need to be finished this year instead.
  • 2020 Funding was allocated in December 2019. This means that 2020 projects could be backed-up by two years’-worth of funding.
  • FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This 2020 and 2019 program provides grants to public (and sometimes private) organizations. The grants are designed to aid the planning and development of public-use airports. 
  • America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act of 2019. This bill does quite a lot to keep the paving industry moving:
  • It increases funding for tribal and federal lands transportation programs.
  • The bill “requires the Department of Transportation to encourage each state to develop a voluntary plan that provides for the immediate and long-term personnel and workforce needs of the state to deliver transportation and public infrastructure projects.”
  • And so much more—read the bill for yourself here.

 

Summer 2020

As midyear approaches, it seems that paving and asphalt projects are still going strong. However, it also makes sense to have some cautious optimism. Here are some other factors to consider.

Funding Sources

Roughly 65% of paving and asphalt project funding comes from the federal, state, and local government. The other 35% comes from private markets, both commercial and residential. Government money is fairly reliable, since once a bill becomes law, the funding appears. The private market, however, is much more volatile. 

In the case of a disastrous second-wave of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S., it’s possible that the private market could take a swift downturn. Additionally, as states open up and numbers of infections start to climb again, there could be another devastating market downturn. Businesses that aren’t open, schools that aren’t running, and government buildings that are shut down won’t need paving services.

 

Demand Changes

It’s difficult to predict how demand will change exactly for construction services like asphalt paving. There are several reasons, among them:

  • Much of paving needs to be done during low-business times. If a business is shut down, and has the liquid cash needed to get by until it reopens, it could go through with a paving project it had planned anyway. The project needs to be done—and with no clients, the construction can be done more easily and far faster.
  • If businesses don’t survive however because of virus levels spiking and causing closures, then demand will correspondingly decrease.
  • The stay-at-home-effect. In the case that lock-downs are again used, with only essential workers going about their business, it would be a perfect time to get city, highway, and other public works paving projects complete. The fewer people on the roads, the more efficiently workers can do their jobs.
  • Demand from government sources seems to be steady in the storm. An internet search for “paving projects summer 2020” reveals many cities and states going about their asphalt paving projects undeterred. As of late March (after lock downs and social distancing measures began in many states), asphalt and paving projects in almost all states were nonetheless ongoing.

 

We’re Still Here for You

If you need a paving project done in, you’ve come to the right place. Reliable Paving is a professional, high-quality, and extremely experienced paving contractor. With over 35 years of experience, we have the know-how and expertise to solve your paving needs. 

Come to us for asphalt paving, concrete repair, seal coating, and parking lot striping. We ensure success and guarantee satisfaction. Is your project a big one? With 19 crews and over 200 employees, we can handle large-scale projects skillfully and deftly. Contact us today to see why we are the local leader among paving companies in Arlington, Texas.

workers laying asphalt

Paving with Recycled Materials

Recycling and other eco-friendly trends in asphalt and paving

Believe it or not, asphalt pavement is America’s most recycled material. Less than 1% of asphalt winds up in landfills. Asphalt concrete removed during road maintenance can easily be reused again in all kinds of ways, including new pavement mixtures and various engineering uses. Get more in-depth information about recycled asphalt numbers here.

But, what is the asphalt recycling process like? What other eco-friendly materials can be used in paving? What are some long-term sustainable trends in asphalt?

What are the benefits of using recycled asphalt?

You might be trying to decide whether to get new pavement, or used recycled material for your home or business. Here are a few of the benefits of using recycled materials for paving:

  • Saving on construction waste. And we mean this in two ways. First, it eliminates waste that you have to spend money on removing and disposing of. Additionally, it is one less thing that has to go into a landfill.
  • Conservation of natural resources. Recycling asphalt reduces oil use. Using recycled materials also reduces the need for small stones and rocks that make up the aggregate. These both reduce the demand for oil drills and strip mines.
  • Construction contractors save money as well. Removing the supply chains of mining and processing means the company installing the asphalt save time and money, and those savings are passed on to their clients.
  • Asphalt can be recycled many times. 
  • Decrease in wear and tear on asphalt. Recycled asphalt is generally stronger than new asphalt. This is because of the added mineral fillers and organic fibers used in the recycled material. Recycled asphalt is less likely to crack and develop holes.

 

The Asphalt Recycling Process

Milling

First, asphalt is “milled.” This means that the top layer of asphalt is removed. Once it has been milled, it goes to a plant, where it is filtered, sized, and used for making new pavement. In this way, asphalt can be used time and time again, extending its life and saving money consumers, taxpayers, while conserving environment.

Pulverization

Asphalt pulverization is used to recycle asphalt without moving it from its job site. The surface layer is ground up and blended with the lower layers, making a new sub base. 

Pulverizing is a popular recycling method for a few reasons. It’s fast and easier than removing the asphalt and replacing it. It’s cheaper to do than milling. Finally, because it uses fewer materials, it’s more environmentally-friendly than milling as well.

 

Laying the recycled asphalt

  1. Clean the surface of any foreign debris like branches and leaves. Fill in large cracks and holes with sand, and break up large clumps of dirt. The idea is for the surface to be clean and smooth.
  2. Fill the area with asphalt until it is about one inch deep. Use rakes or other tools to make the area flat after laying the asphalt. 
  3. Tamp down the surface with a tamper. This is a tool for compacting the asphalt to remove air bubbles and ensure it is properly dense.
  4. Steamroll the asphalt. This further compacts it and ensures it melts together as one piece. 
  5. Seal coat the asphalt. This helps prevent future weather and water damage.

 

Other pavement recycling

Concrete

Concrete is removed, and broken down via crushing into certain sizes. Other materials, like rebar, reinforced steel, paints, and contaminants are then removed. Once the material is purified by removing other materials, it can be reused as concrete. 

This process is cheaper than getting new concrete. Disposing of heavy concrete is costly, as it costs money per-ton to take to a landfill. Of course, it is eco-friendly to recycle it as well, as it removes the need of mining more rock for concrete production. 

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt roof shingles are more difficult to recycle since they’re easily contaminated by outside sources and other roofing materials. Dangerous materials like asbestos are sometimes used in roofing and insulation, so someone recycling shingles has to be careful and conscientious. Other things, like waterproofing, nails, plastic, cellophane, adhesives, and paints can also contaminate the asphalt roof shingles. Asphalt shingles use a higher ration of oil to aggregate than pavement, so recycling the shingles lowers oil demand by more per ton than recycling pavement. 

Other environmentally friendly trends in paving

Open concrete grids

You’ve probably seen these before. Open concrete grids are made from square shaped cinder blocks with large holes in them. They are laid out in a grid shaped pattern, and the holes are filled with soil and seeded with durable plants. In the end, they look like checkerboards, but instead of black and red squares, the squares are green, with gray, concrete lines separating them.

Benefits of open concrete grids are many. They allow drainage, as water can easily pass through. They prevent erosion, as the earth is held in place by hard concrete, and they are strong enough to handle vehicles.

Porous pavement

In porous pavement, the aggregate is held together, but not with so much binder that it is impenetrable. The porous pavement can be permeated by water. As water can flow through it, this pavement is more sustainable because it is less likely to get cracks and damage from standing water.

Permeable pavers

These resemble closely-set stone pathways. Permeable pavers allow water to flow through joints or holes in the pavers themselves. They often look like natural stones, while being able to withstand weights similar to standard pavement. Again, these are more sustainable because by allowing water to pass through, they don’t develop cracks during the freeze-thaw cycle or other issues from standing water.

 

Looking for sustainable paving solutions?

Whether you are looking for asphalt paving, seal coating, recycling, or anything else about pavement, Reliable Paving has you covered. We are professional paving contractors with over 35 years of experience. Not only are we happy to help and give estimates on projects, we’re capable of large-scale paving operations for homes and businesses. Feel free to send us a message with whatever paving-related query you may have.

Noise and Road Pavement Types

Traffic noise is an environmental issue and is even called “pollution,” and for good reason. It might not belch soot into the air or contaminate water sources, but in urban areas it’s critical to take it into account so people can live comfortably (without suffocating in the thunderous noise coming in from roads outside).

The combination tire speed and pavement type is what determines traffic noise. Tire-pavement noise is made worse with rolling, slipping, or dragging tires against pavement, especially when vehicles are moving at a higher speed. Other factors that affect tire-pavement noise including the type of vehicle, temperature, weather, the age of the pavement surface, and the surface type itself.

While most of these factors can’t be controlled, the one factor you have control over is the pavement surface type. You’re able (and empowered) to strategically choose a surface to reduce noise. Using traffic noise on a typical highway as our baseline (which ranges from 55 to 80 decibels of volume), we analyzed the different types of pavement and their noise levels to help you choose the best pavement for your project.

 

Open Graded Friction Course

Open-graded friction course (OGFC) is the quietest pavement surface, producing even less noise than conventional HMA and PCC surfaces. Its noise production is estimated to 69-77 dB(A).

OGFC uses small holes (or “air voids”) in the pavement to provide a sound-absorbing negative texture. OGFC can be made with conventional liquid asphalt or with polymer-modified asphalt, including rubberized asphalt. Rubberized OGFC typically uses finely- ground rubber that’s been recycled from tires in order to change the asphalt binder in the mixture.

Because they have air voids, these OGFC varieties differ from a more conventional, densely-graded hot mix asphalt (HMA) in several key ways. For one, OGFC air voids start from 10 to 22% and usually see a little decrease over pavement life. And because of those air voids, the surface is also referred to as “porous asphalt.” These air voids absorb a large amount of noise generated by the friction of the tires and the surface itself.

 

Hot Mix Asphalt

Hot mix asphalt (HMA) can generate a noise production equivalent to 72-79.5 dB(A). HMA is made by heating aggregates to decrease the viscosity of the binding agents and make the whole mix more fluid. Then, it’s dried to remove any moisture.

HMA air void structure generally ranges from 6 to 7%. Anything above 10% gives the asphalt a shorter life. On the other hand, even if hot mix asphalt isn’t the quietest, it is considered as the most durable type of pavement—which is why it’s generally used for highways and high roads. Asphalt is weather resistant and can efficiently stand up to wind, heat, freezes, and floods. Its heat absorption, in fact, has the capacity to melt snow and ice faster than any other type of paving material.

 

Stone Matrix Asphalt

Stone matrix asphalt (SMA) is popular because of its durability and resistance. It’s considered to be a great option for high-traffic areas, including highways and interstates, as well as busy intersections. This pavement type is a gap-graded HMA originally developed in Europe.

Since this material allows less elasticity but greater resistance, it’s noisier than the two mentioned above. However, used in the right situations, it’s more cost-effective and has greater resistance over the years. Even the quietest pavement type will get noisy when it gets filled with cracks and potholes.

 

Portland Cement Concrete

Portland cement concrete (PCC) is, once again, a degree less “quiet” than the pavement types above since it generates approximately 76-85 dB(A) in traffic noise. It’s commonly made from materials like limestone, shells, and chalk or marl combined with shale, clay, slate, blast furnace slag, silica sand, or iron ore.

The difference in noise levels between HMA and PCC surfaces is a little more dramatic when PCC is grooved or tined, too (which is commonly done to improve skid resistance). However, if the surface is diamond ground, it becomes equal to HMA as far as noise reduction.

Additionally, Portland cement concrete is more economical than other pavement materials.

 

Composite

Composite is not usually used to pave roads on its own. It’s actually a mix of asphalt and concrete and it is used as a repair material for pavement maintenance. It’s often seen as an asphalt overlay for damaged areas, such as to fill cracks and potholes.

 

Depending on the location of your project, always take the road noise into consideration when choosing your pavement type. Other priorities like resistance, durability, elasticity, and aesthetic will help you make your final decision.

Though traffic noise is produced by many different factors, the pavement type has a big impact on the end noise perceived by those who live or work in the zone. Without a doubt, OGFC is the best option for areas where traffic noise reduction is of the utmost importance. However, its longevity is less than other paving options, usually needing to be repaired or repaved every 9-10 years.

Hot mix asphalt is another popular go-to since it still helps reduce traffic noise and usually lasts 12-15 years before requiring repair.

Which pavement type makes sense for your roads or parking lot? Get a free quote from Reliable Paving today.