By Mark Beatty / Published June 2021
Doing through these questions and answers will provide HOA boards and community managers insights for making your roads last longer and remaining in good shape without triggering a special assessment or exorbitant HOA fees.
Answer: “True” is the answer that immediately makes sense. The largest owners of roadway assets are government agencies. With the experience these organizations have at managing these vast transportation networks, the smart thing to do is to not reinvent the wheel. Just do what they are doing, right? Well, the answer to the true or false question above is a definitive “False.”
Reason: Roads that are highly trafficked arterial roadways or highways lead to the surface of the roadway wearing out and a new top layer being the priority. Often that requires the milling of the asphalt surface and an overlay of new asphalt being installed. This is a drastically different approach compared to what is most often needed with the streets and parking lots of a private community. What private communities need to focus on are the best solutions for reducing the environmental impact on streets while supporting moderate to low traffic volumes. Sun and rain lead to accelerated oxidative deterioration of asphalt pavements. This means pavements become more brittle and susceptible to cracking and require major rehabilitation. The use of a high density mineral bond to preserve community streets has been shown to delay the age-hardening of asphalt pavement by 67 percent. Employing a strategy to severely limit the oxidative deterioration and hardening of the pavement will significantly extend its useful life as well as aesthetics that support property values.
Answer: A–D, or it depends.
Reason: The correct answer could be any of these choices. It all depends upon the surface treatment selected and the condition of your pavement when you start your program. Some treatments only provide a one-year life span of any degree of preservation benefit. But I see communities drawn to use these treatments because of how inexpensive they are. Unfortunately, these same communities likely won’t do any maintenance for another 5–10 years, leaving the pavement to continue to deteriorate and head toward the need for major and expensive rehabilitation at a similar clip to them doing nothing at all. Investing the time to become educated on the pros and cons of treatment types prior to collecting bids is fundamental for success. If you need the guidance of a qualified consultant, please email pavement firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your community and contact information, and I’ll have an advisor reach out who can provide an education course on lowering the cost of pavement ownership geared for HOA boards and community managers.
A) Spring B) Summer C) Fall D) Winter
Answer: D) Winter
Reason: Optimal timing for sealing cracks is when temperatures are cooler. Asphalt pavement is known as a flexible pavement, and it expands and contracts with temperature changes. With cooler temperatures, pavements contract a small degree, which also means the cracks open to their widest point. This provides an opportunity for more crack seal material to be installed within the crack. Now in Florida, the expanding and contracting of the pavement season to season is less volatile. The central and northern part of the state may be more likely to take advantage of this timing strategy.
Reason: Turning a pavement black does not necessarily mean that the pavement is being successfully preserved. Aesthetics are very important to homeowners and a community’s desirability. It’s possible to effectively gain high aesthetics along with effective preservation, but it’s not always the case depending upon the treatment type. Some treatments are applied as more of a clear liquid marketed to soak into the pavement where it provides benefit. Although these treatments are relatively inexpensive, I’m not sold on the benefit level they are touted to provide. There are other treatments that do look very good post-installation but do little to preserve the asphalt. One study that was conducted in the intense sun of the Hawaiian Islands found some popular sealers to increase cracking compared to the control section.
Reason: Do not rely solely upon a visual assessment of the pavement to determine if something should be done to preserve your roadways. Just as it is much more beneficial to visit the doctor regularly to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels followed by proactive lifestyle adjustments to prevent a serious health event, we also need to be proactive with pavement management before distresses in the pavement are visible. One interesting bit of research identified that the highest percentage of oxidation to asphalt pavement occurs within the first four years of pavement service life. Oxidation is what leads a pavement to become brittle and more susceptible to cracking. A person’s health is far more valuable than any pavement condition, but proactive due diligence is required to avoid the pain of costly repairs or total replacement of your community’s most valuable asset. Asphalt is no longer an inexpensive part of the infrastructure as asphalt prices have accelerated 900 percent over the last 20 years. If you don’t already, make sure you that your community has an effective long-term strategy in place that has been provided or reviewed by an experienced professional. As stated earlier, there’s a way to receive a no-cost review of your community by sending your request to email@example.com.
Always remember this—once you can visibly see distresses in the pavement, you are now reacting to pavement that is damaged. Of course, there are treatments that will help slow the damage, but the options now become more expensive and offer fewer long-term benefits. The bottom line is… be proactive with a credible long-term asset management plan.
Senior Vice President, Holbrook Asphalt Company
Mark Beatty is on the Advisory Board for the International Pavement Management Association and consults with public agencies and HOAs throughout the U.S. He is a sought-after presenter at public works events as well as HOA seminars. Mark serves as the Sr. Vice President at Holbrook Asphalt Company. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.