Commercial Construction & Contracting Resources

Why Do Asphalt Roads Need So Much Repair?

Posted by Tom Owings on July 3, 2018

If you have lived in Marion, Ohio, or one of the surrounding communities for any period of time, you know there is an old joke which says there are only two seasons of the year around here – winter and road construction!

It seems like roads just get torn up in the winter and repaired again in the summer. As a civil construction company, we keep pretty busy during the summer helping to repair those roads -- and we’re here to let you on on the secret to why!

So… Why Do Asphalt Roads Need So Much Repair?

There’s no shortage of reasons for these repairs, so we’ve outlined a few of the most common ones.

Weather

Of course our Ohio winters are a main cause of a lot of the damage to our roads. Snow and ice can start to worm their way into any little hole. The plows and salt spreaders make the hole bigger as they struggle to keep the roads clear for traffic.

The brutal freeze-thaw-freeze cycle adds to the damage as water gets into the asphalt and subbase, contracts the surrounding materials and causes cracks, expands as surface temperatures increase, and then freezes and expands again.

Pretty soon you’ve got a pretty impressive pothole that is going to need repair come summer time.

Abuse

We’re pretty hard on our roads around here.

Normal traffic volume, trucks, buses, and commercial traffic passing over a road time after time simply add up to a lot of wear and tear. This pounding can loosen the asphalt and cause a small hole to appear. As loose asphalt around the rim begins to be worn away, a small hole can eventually become a big headache.

Accidents Happen

Accidents don’t just damage the vehicles involved; they damage the roadway underneath as well. A fire, gas spill or oil leak can cause erosion to the asphalt.

Underlying Causes… Literally

Sometimes the cause of a problem isn’t what is going on above the surface – it can be something you don’t see. A cracked sewer pipe under the road could be spewing water and weakening the subsurface, causing the road itself to sink.

Poor Initial Construction

Some roads are not built correctly to begin with, and may suffer from poor drainage, inappropriate materials, lack of bonding between layers, or insufficient thickness.

Poor Maintenance

Asphalt does need some care to stay in peak performing condition. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do when it comes to maintaining roadways. Municipal road budgets are often tight and decisions must be made between maintenance, repair and new builds.

Cracks and potholes that are left unattended will only become worse during the next cold season.

It’s Not Always Asphalt Road Repair!

Although it may seem like there is construction everywhere, not all of it is necessarily related to repair. There are other reasons local and state governments can be investing in infrastructure such as widening existing roads or building new connections to ease traffic flow.

But, don’t worry, it will all be over soon and we’ll stop asking “Why do asphalt roads need so much repair?” and be back to complaining about the snow again!

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Written by Tom Owings