Commercial asphalt paving contractors have dealt with a great deal of pressure from environmentalists since the beginning of paved roadways. Because asphalt is a crude oil or tar based material, there have been valid concerns voiced for the effect such a material will have on the environment. As the decades have passed since the implementation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, the commercial paving industry has created new and amazing procedures to recycle old, used asphalt and concrete for use in new roadways, highways and structures.
One of the biggest concerns of environmentalists for years was the large amount of emissions created by producing asphalt. Over the years, the process for asphalt excavation, concrete excavation and the recycling of those materials has evolved. Asphalt production companies have developed what is known as a “warm mix”, which requires far less heat, thus reducing the amount of energy required for the process and, due to the lower temperature, far less emissions are produced.
The use of reclaimed asphalt pavement, or RAP, has changed the way commercial paving contractors are looked at by many environmentalists. While we struggle to control pollution in our air, our seas and our land, the commercial paving industry has achieved great strides toward conservation of our environment while maintaining the roadways that we have grown so accustomed to. According to the Federal Highway Administration, as of 2014, 99% of new roadways and repairs to existing highways, bridges and structures are performed using RAP.
The next time you see a dump truck filled with chunks of asphalt, know that it is on its way to becoming a new driveway or patch for the potholes on exit 12-A. Commercial paving contractors and the entire asphalt and concrete industry strive to protect Mother Earth despite being an industry fraught with environmental difficulties.