William Eichler 28 April 2021

New asphalt mix like ‘anti-ageing cream for roads’

New asphalt mix like ‘anti-ageing cream for roads’ image

A section of dual carriageway in Northamptonshire has become the first in the country to be resurfaced with a new asphalt mix which could help roads last significantly longer.

England’s motorways and major A-roads are expected to be resurfaced every 10-12 years because of damage caused by water, sun and air, combined with the weight of heavy traffic.

However, Highways England, together with partners Tarmac and Total, has resurfaced a busy section of the A43 near Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, with a new asphalt mix which is held together by a new bitumen called Styrelf Long Life.

Styrelf Long Life is designed to be more resistant to the elements by oxidising more slowly. This slower process means that the road surface stays flexible for longer, preventing cracks forming.

‘We’re always looking for innovative ways to help us keep England’s motorways and major A-roads in good condition,’ said Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highways engineer.

‘The ultimate priority for us is safety so we invest in new technology and materials to keep those using the roads safe.

‘Longer lasting roads means fewer roadworks, less disruption for motorists and a more sustainable network for everyone.’

More durable road surfaces that require fewer repairs could lead to less money needing to be spent on maintenance, lower carbon emissions caused by maintenance work and less disruption for road users.

Total estimates that getting the asphalt required to resurface a mile of single lane carriageway - not including transport to site and working with it - can produce up to 26.5 tonnes of CO2.

‘What we have in this case is essentially an anti-ageing cream for roads – just as these products are designed to reduce and prevent the signs of fine lines and overall ageing of the skin, the new bitumen being trialled on the A43 will protect the road surface,’ said Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac.

‘It not only has the potential to offer improved value for money to the public purse, but it also contains properties to increase the overall lifespan of roads.

‘Through preventing cracks to the surface of the road caused by elements such as air and water, the longer life bitumen has the ability to reduce disruption, deliver long-term carbon savings and importantly help network operators to better manage their assets.’

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