In this episode of Road Insights Podcast, we're delving into a critical topic that affects our roadways and environment—heat.
As we look at the scorching temperatures during the summer, it becomes evident that the heat emanating from asphalt pavements plays a significant role in our urban landscapes.
The Urban Heat Island Effect: Where Asphalt Meets Concrete Jungle
Often characterized by concrete jungles, cities are heavily laden with asphalt infrastructure. As a result, they contribute to the "urban heat island effect." This phenomenon occurs when buildings and asphalt surfaces retain and radiate excessive heat back into the atmosphere, significantly raising temperatures in urban areas.
Walking on Fire: Asphalt Surface Temperatures
Imagine walking on a hot summer day. Now, picture the surface temperature of an asphalt roadway—surprisingly, it can reach a sweltering 160 degrees Fahrenheit, even when the ambient temperature hovers around 104 degrees. Such extreme heat poses risks to pedestrians, pets, and vehicles alike.
Asphalt Challenges: Cracks and Bleeding
Heat not only affects human comfort but also impacts the infrastructure itself. Asphalt's flexibility is crucial to its longevity. However, under intense heat, asphalt may develop micro-cracks or experience bleeding, where excess asphalt material seeps up through the pavement surface. Such issues can lead to accelerated deterioration of roadways, especially in high-traffic areas.
Cooling Solutions: Tackling Urban Heat Islands
Thankfully, some cities are proactively combating the urban heat island effect. One example is the "cool pavement" program initiated in Phoenix, Arizona. By utilizing specialized mixed designs, they reduced asphalt surface temperatures by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This improves comfort for pedestrians and helps alleviate environmental concerns related to excessive heat.
Pave the Way for a Cooler Future
As we continue exploring heat's impact on our roadways, we encourage innovative solutions to create more sustainable and comfortable urban environments. Keep an eye out for our future episodes on pavement maintenance and other road-related topics. Remember, together; we can pave the way for a cooler and safer future for our communities.
Author: James Golden, Founder and CEO of Pavement Management Group