There are over 4.05 million public centerline road miles (8.52 million lane miles) in the U.S. and of this, 2.50 million miles (or 63 percent) are paved (FHWA 2009). About 70 percent of Washington State roads are paved.
Today’s current national and local economic conditions – combining reduced funding with high infrastructure needs – have elevated the importance of prudent spending. Decision makers exercising good stewardship practices can easily justify their decisions and choices to their constituents. Good stewardship practices include a detailed, logical, and documented pavement type selection process that includes a life-cycle cost analysis as a key component.
The Perpetual Pavement concept was first articulated in 2000 and the concept has rapidly gained acceptance. The APA’s newest technical document on the subject is Perpetual Asphalt Pavements: A Synthesis. This comprehensive publication captures the activities that have taken place over the last decade, synthesizes the information in way that is useful to providing guidance for Perpetual Pavement design and construction, and provides a vision for further research and development to refine Perpetual Pavements.
Asphalt is the sustainable material for constructing pavements. From the production of the paving material, to the placement of the pavement on the road, to rehabilitation, through recycling, asphalt pavements minimize impact on the environment. Low consumption of energy for production and construction, low emission of greenhouse gases, and conservation of natural resources help to make asphalt the environmental pavement of choice.
There is no doubt that societal trends and economic realities will shape the pavement market going forward. Those driving factors include public funding issues, an emphasis on sustainable growth and livability, unemployment trends, and future supply/capacity. Accounting for all of these factors, asphalt is perfectly positioned to address future markets in both highways and other infrastructure.