By Chris Evers / Published October 2019
People often ask me, “Chris, what can I do to make the asphalt roads in our community last longer?” I reply with all the standard answers formulated over my 25 years in the industry. But as I was starting to write this article, I wondered how to sum up 25 years of best practice experience in a single article.
Then I thought of my vehicles owner’s manual (including some normal disclaimers, service alerts/warnings, and best practices). Now admittedly most folks don’t pull out the owner’s manual until there is a problem, but all would agree, it is more useful prior to a problem occurring rather than after!
So, here is the legend for your very own “Asphalt Owner’s Manual,” beginning with a normal disclaimer, moving on to service alerts or warnings, and then summing up with some critical best practices. Keep and refer to it in the years ahead to ensure your asphalt pavements are properly cared for and serviced.
If you choose not to perform standard preventive maintenance on your pavement, it could result in expensive repairs down the road, pun intended!
Best practices for assets, whether they are cars, houses, or roads, always include specific routine maintenance at the “right time.” Following these guidelines enables owners to get the longest life out of their asset, which in turn results in the lowest cost of ownership.
Day One—Congratulations, you just pulled your pavement off the lot!
Now that the roads have been resurfaced in your community, it’s time to start thinking about how to preserve them.
Remember: right now you likely have a one-year warranty from the asphalt paving contractor. But the quality of resurfacing projects varies greatly. Inspecting the pavement 10 to 11 months after resurfacing is key to making sure you catch any possible workmanship or material defects that either weren’t caught upon completion of the project or that may have only recently appeared.
If you used a consulting engineer, this process should be easy since they will likely handle the warranty inspection for you. If not, your best bet is to begin with a walk around the community to get a feel for the roadways. Look for any surface defects, substantial failures, excessive cracking, or loss of fine aggregate, indicating issues with the pavement. If you see something troubling, schedule a site visit with the contractor who performed the work.
Always inspect your resurfaced roadway before its warranty period has expired!
Now that you’ve completed the inspection and attended to any in-warranty adjustments, your next concern is to ensure the pavement’s durability is sustained after the warranty period has expired.
Change the oil.¹
Your car and your roadways have more in common than you may think. The asphalt has been oxidizing slowly in the bright Florida sun over the last year plus. You’ve noticed the roadway becoming a dark gray. Gone are the days of the jet black road, but that’s not a bad thing. For one thing, it’s not as hot on your dog’s paws.²
Here are the facts: Just like avoiding the sketchy service guy who advises you to do unnecessary, or worse, the wrong maintenance on your new car, you need to exercise caution in choosing a resurfacing partner. Only trust the preservation of your roads to experts who perform those same services for the city and county governments in your area.
Many car owner’s manuals suggest using the dealership’s service center for routine maintenance. But surprisingly, asphalt paving contractors don’t typically perform early preventative maintenance on the roads they resurface.
For your roads, best practice calls for performing your first rejuvenation treatment between years one and three after the roads were constructed or resurfaced. The reason Maltene Replacement Technology (MRT) is recommended is because it actually returns to asphalt pavement the light ends in the asphalt binder that have been lost to oxidation.
Just as motor oil breaks down in your car’s engine, the liquid asphalt that holds your roads together becomes old and brittle. By spray application of an asphalt rejuvenator made from the very same component lost, you’ll extend the life of your community’s roads by approximately five years for each treatment. Typically MRT can be used two additional times after the first application—for example, in years seven and twelve.
Although not typically part of the owner’s manual, performance metrics are often the key factor in selecting a car. They are equally important when selecting a rejuvenation process for your asphalt roadways.
People believe what they can see. Does the company you trust to service your asphalt pavement have test results backed by real science? When you use a maltene-based rejuvenator, your contractor can show you test results demonstrating just how much the rejuvenation process will soften the binder, adding years of life back to your roads. By reviewing the results they have produced for large public works agencies, you can be more confident you are getting the proper service on your asphalt roadways.
On larger HOA projects, it may even be possible to request testing on your rejuvenation job. Results will look a lot like the graph above showing a reduction in the viscosity (or hardness) of the asphalt binder after its MRT rejuvenation treatment. Proper application of the MRT treatment is a prerequisite for such results, so working with a contractor whose workmanship you trust is essential to success. ³
If you ask your neighbor what they think of their car, you’re likely to hear some comments about how well the car has held up and what its resale value is. These two things are interconnected. If their car is of sound quality, i.e., if the neighbor has taken good care of the vehicle and it has not had excessive mileage (aging), then likely it will be considered to have been a sound investment.
ROI is a popular performance measure used in all corners of the economic world. Its popularity is as easy to understand as the formula for defining it: simply take the benefit or return (savings in this case) of an investment and subtract from it the cost of the investment. Then divide that figure by the cost of the investment to identify your ROI.
The total savings across the life of the roadway ($154,330) minus the total cost of preservation (39,014) divided by that same total cost of preservation provides a return on investment of 296 percent!
Good roads cost money, but bad roads clearly cost more. To get the highest ROI possible on your roads, follow the same asphalt owner’s manual guidelines that cities and counties around Florida have been following for decades to preserve their roads: Maltene Replacement Technology will keep your good roads good.
Technical Representative, Pavement Technology Inc.
Chris Evers has served as a technical representative for Pavement Technology Inc. since 2011 and has been involved in the road building business since 1996. He is a past president of the APWA Florida Chapter and an active participant on its Legislative Affairs committee. He founded and continues to moderate the annual APWA International Public Works Director Roundtable and was also instrumental in founding the Florida Pavement Preservation Council. Chris is a popular pavement preservation educator/speaker throughout Florida and resides in Vero Beach. For more information on Pavement Technology, visit www.pavetechinc.com or contact Chris via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use only approved motor oil, or, in pavement parlance: use only approved surface treatments.
Fight the urge to paint your community’s roads black with the many coal tar sealants on the market. They are harmful to the environment, present a health hazard, and retain heat, causing damage to the roadway. They will also burn your dog’s paws in a matter of minutes.
Just as performance metric results will vary by model with your car, asphalt rejuvenation results will vary according to the age of the asphalt, its type, weather and traffic conditions, and so on. As a precaution, always request a list of Florida-based references before hiring your pavement rejuvenation contractor, and take the time to call each one of them to ensure their projects were completed successfully with no outstanding issues.