Preserving Our Pavements - Focusing on Asphalt Preservation
By asphaltsyst8314705, Feb 16 2017 02:32PM
Our roads are being used more frequently every year, and the increased demands are taking their toll on our highway infrastructure. In 1997, a report called Status of the Nation's Surface Transportation System: Condition and Performance was brought before Congress, highlighting the fact that the pavement surfaces of just under 50% of rural interstate highway and just under 60% of urban highway have been rated in fair to poor condition. The decline in standards is only getting worse.
There is a greater public expectation for safety, excellence and performance which has driven the demand for increased levels of service by the highway agencies that care for our roads. The strain on the available budget is evident. Highway agencies have had to reshuffle their priorities, focusing on maintenance and preservation of the roads over creating new stretches of highway. The main focus has to be on longevity and quality, rather than creation of new highway systems.
For every new stretch of road comes an increased demand for maintenance and upkeep. The cost of construction and repair of more than 6 million kilometers of road is actually one of our nation’s primary areas of infrastructure expenditure – one of the biggest levels of expenditure in American history. Our roads and highways, and the necessary infrastructure to keep them functional, represent a huge asset that is worth every penny of investment that can be spared.
Deterioration of the roads is currently proving to be a huge drain on time and resources. The problem is self-perpetuating; if areas are left to deteriorate the problem becomes exponentially worse, and time and funding is then diverted to repairs while other roads deteriorate. The upkeep of our road systems becomes a losing battle. To fight the decline in quality and functionality that occurs from deterioration, a change of priorities has arisen, which values asphalt prevention over repair. Funding is channeled into ensuring that the stretches of road we already have last as long as possible, instead of waiting for deterioration of the surfaces to happen. This philosophy of prevention allows the budget to stretch further and have a greater impact. It might be difficult to execute this shift of priorities, but it is certainly not impossible.
Repair and replacement of infrastructure will always cost more than prevention, and will divert resources that should be going towards routine maintenance. The cost of inconvenience for people who use the road while the repairs are being completed is not inconsequential. The change of tactics from a reactive to proactive attitude means a reduction in inconvenience, time and cost. The existing roads will be of a higher quality, with reduced maintenance needed and therefore less inconvenience passed on to road users. Pavement preservation is an investment into the infrastructure of our country, and the value of these preventative measures cannot be overstated.