Potholes are not only an annoyance; they are a hazard. They can be costly to repair, but even more costly to ignore —causing accidents and injury not only to motorists but to cyclists and pedestrians.
Potholes begin as small stress cracks that grow with water penetration and changing weather conditions. Water can seep into cracks and degrade the base layer —further weakening the pavement.
These are widespread problems that scientists have been trying to resolve. New materials and aggregates are being studied to create self-healing pavement. They are exploring using tiny capsules or beads filled with various natural oils that will break open and release the oils when the paved surface begins to crack. The oils soften the asphalt near the crack allowing it to stick together and to begin to fill the crack.
Another possible solution being studied is adding small steel fibers to the asphalt. These steel fibers could be heated by the sun to partially fill the smallest cracks and help extend the life of the pavement. The steel fibers are electrically conductive, so more thorough crack filling can be done using a large induction machine to heat and allow small cracks to be filled quickly and more affordably before they can expand. Putting steel fibers in the asphalt provides other opportunities for the future as well. The conductive steel fibers could potentially be used to charge electric cars traveling on the road.
So, can we say goodbye to potholes forever?
It’s not likely these materials will get rid of the pothole problem anytime soon. Real–world testing has only just begun and it will take years before the long–term results can be known. Preliminary testing seems to indicate these new materials can extend the life of pavement by several years —not eliminate potholes. Even so, adding years to the life of paving surfaces is no small achievement. However, widespread testing needs to be done on these materials to see how they hold up to the weather extremes they are subjected to around the world. The cost of materials is also significantly higher and will likely remain higher until new materials can be mainstreamed into mass production.
The best way to extend the life of your pavement remains thorough maintenance including traditional crack filling plus regular repairs, inspections, and sealcoating. Pavement Services have become a market leader in commercial pavement applications and we always have an eye to the future.
Our parking lot maintenance plans include annual upkeep, repair, and crack sealing, as well as 5–10-year maintenance components like parking lot sealing. We specialize in commercial paving services and can assist in putting into place the best preventative parking lot maintenance plans that include a parking lot paint schedule for your parking lot line painting, the best time to be sealing a parking lot, what time is best for paving a parking lot, and crack filling and asphalt services.
Maintenance is the key to extending the overall lifespan of your pavement and preventing more costly damage from occurring. Pavement Services has been recognized as a Top 50 Contractor nationally by Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction Magazine.