When lobbying for road construction dollars, the hot-mix industry has a lot to talk about in arguing the benefits of asphalt over concrete. If you just consider the improvements in mix designs and placement technologies that have evolved over the past 50 years, it's obvious the industry has made great strides in delivering a viable solution to the economical, safe and durable product its road agencies, and taxpayers in particular, expect.
Superpave is now the standard for long-lasting hot-mix designs, and probably just the tip of the iceberg of what's to come from an industry that is committed to continuous improvement in its quest to develop new solutions to the challenges local, state and federal road agencies face in maintaining a reliable infrastructure.
Today, stone matrix asphalt (SMA) mixes are gaining momentum as a long-lasting road surface designed and constructed to deliver exceptional performance on road systems required to carry heavy loads and high volumes of traffic. But the evolution continues as Perpetual Pavement designs now allow road agencies a way to construct a road that will last forever with periodic maintenance where the top wearing course is milled off and replaced with a new HMA overlay.
And the industry continues to explore new solutions, like porous pavements to manage storm water runoff, or warm-mix asphalt designs that reduce emissions and lower costs during production, but still deliver the performance capabilities of hot-mix asphalt when placed. And don't forget about the work that has been done and continues to be done on increasing the amount of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) placed in new road construction, or cold in-place recycling that rejuvenates aged asphalts that can be used as a base course on a road rehabilitation project. The recycling benefits to road agencies, asphalt producers and contractor, and taxpayers are substantial. Mix designs using recycled tires have also generated yet another benefit in the reduction of noise on roads in densely populated urban areas.
The industry has also made significant advancements in products and techniques to preserve asphalt pavements, which not only extends the life of a road, but also improves the performance and safety of the road's surface.
Much of what the industry has to offer can be explored at the upcoming World of Asphalt Show and Convention in Orlando, March 13-16. There are ample conferences designed to help attendees gain a better understanding of the solutions hot-mix asphalt has to offer in building better pavements. The networking will undoubtedly be an added bonus for those of you who are looking for ways to state your case on why asphalt is the right solution, and the equipment exhibitors will showcase the latest technology that can help you profitably deliver the quality product your customers expect.
Whether or not you go to the show, continue to promote the advantages of hot-mix asphalt, because you can be sure the HMA industry will continue to improve current approaches and research new solutions.