Understanding the asphalt pavement life cycle

cracked-asphaltAsphalt is an organic material and is thus susceptible to the actions of nature. From the day it is placed, asphalt pavements begin to deteriorate. Air, water and ultraviolet rays from the sun cause the surface to oxidize.

In Stage 1, oxidization leads to loss of bitumen, the oily resinous fraction of the hydrocarbon molecules. The loss of bitumen leads to increased viscosity and decreased ductility. Water and other harmful contaminants begin to erode the asphalt pavement.

If left untreated, small cracks begin to develop in Stage 2. These cracks allow air and water to further damage the binder leading to loss of fines, larger cracks and water seepage.

Eventually, the pavement will deteriorate to the point that it loses its structural capabilities. If proper maintenance is not taken before Stage Three, high costs of re-paving or reconstructing are likely to result.

By understanding the life cycle of asphalt and how roadways deteriorate, roadway managers can save substantial repair costs by taking preventive maintenance measures before irreversible damage occurs.

Learn how the right maintenance plan will protect your asphalt investment, save you considerable dollars and will enhance the likelihood of asset appreciation. Read the 'Maintenance Matters' (PDF) brochure.