About Asphalt Pavement


Asphalt pavement is the most environmentally friendly, cost effective and conveniently used pavement in the United States, accounting for over 95% of the pavement installed every year. The reason is simple: asphalt pavement offers a smooth ride, safety and durability at a low cost.

As a 100% recyclable product, asphalt pavement is the most recycled construction product in the United States. Through the development of advanced systems like Superpave and Perpetual Pavement, Hot-Mix Asphalt pavement has evolved from its oil-on-gravel heritage into technically sophisticated engineering solutions suitable for the most demanding projects being constructed today and tomorrow.

Fast Facts About Asphalt Pavement

  • The term “Perpetual Pavement” refers to a Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) pavement design that can be expected to last indefinitely without signs of structural failure.
  • Recent developments, including the Superpave system and Stone Matrix Asphalt designs, have improved the performance of HMA pavements, in particular by extending pavement surface life and eliminating rutting.
  • Emissions from HMA facilities are very low and well controlled, leading the EPA to declare that no single facility has the potential to be a major source of hazardous air pollutants.
  • Every year, more than 73 million tons of asphalt pavement removed from the nation’s roads are reused, which makes it America’s most recycled product by an impressive margin.
  • The lower cost of HMA pavement translates into better value, too. In almost every case, it is less expensive to build and rehabilitate pavements with HMA.
  • Asphalt has a wide variety of uses, including busy interstate highways, local roads, parking lots, public jogging trails, and bicycle paths. In addition, water reservoirs and fish hatchery ponds are often lined with asphalt.
  • Perpetual Pavements are right for both low- and high-traffic roads and airports because they offer long life under any traffic, infrequent maintenance, a smooth ride, 100% recyclability, and reduced noise levels.
  • The surface of an asphalt pavement is generally much smoother than concrete. Smooth pavements save fuel, reduce fatigue and produce less noise. A report by a non-profit group, The Road Information Program (TRIP), has shown that rougher roads result in higher vehicle maintenance costs by a factor of 10.
  • Production of HMA is known to be environmentally friendly. Although production has more than doubled over the last 50 years, emissions from asphalt plants have been reduced by 97%.
  • You can drive on a new asphalt pavement the same day it has been placed. Concrete, on the other hand, generally takes much more time to cure before you can allow any amount of automobile or truck traffic on it.
  • Use of an Open Graded Friction Course (OGFC) design can result in an immediate reduction of noise emissions of 3 to 5 decibels on high-speed roadway, which is the equivalent of a 50% reduction in the noise level.
  • A recent study of pavement rehabilitation projects documented that the cost to rehabilitate concrete pavement was two to three times more expensive than for asphalt pavement.
  • HMA pavements can be built and maintained fast, thereby minimizing traffic delays and long-term lane closures. HMA pavements can also be built and maintained at night and opened again in time for rush hour the next morning.


    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Q: Isn’t all asphalt pavement pretty much the same; just oil and gravel?

    A: Definitely not. Many different formulations of asphalt paving are available to meet a wide range of engineering specifications. There are also various techniques of constructing the pavement. Your GAPA member contractor will help you select the pavement that is right for your job.

    Q: Since asphalt is made using oil, isn’t it bad for the environment?

    A: You'd think so, wouldn't you?  But no.  Crude oil goes through a process called "fractal distillation."  That's the process that gives us gasoline, jetfuel, and heating oil.  When everything is said and done, asphalt cement, the black liquid part, is what's left over.  Instead of sending that material to landfill, we use it to make highly engineered roadways.  And asphalt pavement is the MOST recycled product in the United States. When an asphalt roadway is resurfaced, the top of the pavement is removed, processed and reapplied all in one step. In addition, asphalt pavement has been proven to cause less tire wear for drivers. Used tires can even be ground up and used in the manufacture of new asphalt pavements, making it a true “full circle” product.  

    Q: How can I tell if a paving contractor is reputable or not?

    A: Since all “black-top” looks alike to the uneducated eye, it can be difficult for the consumer to know whether or not a contractor is doing quality work. By choosing a GAPA member for your paving job, you will be hiring a company committed to the highest professional standards in the industry.

    Q: If it’s coated with oil, why isn’t asphalt pavement slick to drive on?

    A: Asphalt pavements aren't really coated in oil.  The asphalt cement, the black liquid part of asphalt, is actually like a glue paint.  It coats the aggregate in the pavement just like the paint on wall in your house, only a lot stickier.  Once it cools, usually in an hour or two, the asphalt cement hardens, and the pavement is ready to go.  No mess, no fuss, and no oily sheen.

    Q: Does asphalt pavement have to “cure” like concrete before you can drive on it?

    A: Unlike concrete, you can drive on asphalt pavement the same day it is applied.

    Q: Will asphalt “melt” in the heat of Georgia summers?

    A: Any problems with asphalt pavement softening can be avoided by using a GAPA member paving contractor. These professionals have the training and resources to formulate asphalt pavement suitable for use in the hottest of climates.