The Evolution of Asphalt Paving Technology

May, 12, 2020 By CASSIDY PAVING 6 min read
Asphalt pavement, in its current form, is something that we often take for granted. But did you know that this material has a long history dating back to Babylon? Although you can’t really say asphalt was invented, since it is truly a petroleum byproduct, you can pinpoint the evolution of paving technology. At Cassidy Paving, we enjoy all things asphalt and hope that this little history lesson can turn you into a bit of an asphalt nerd too.

The Early 1800s

Since Babylonians had the first record of road-building materials, many others like the Greeks and even the Scottish helped transform the material’s use leading up to the modern innovation that it is. According to the Virginia Asphalt Association, Thomas Telford built more than 900 miles of road in Scotland with a method he perfected by building with broken stones. The builders then used tar to bind the stones together as “tarmacadem” pavement.

Coming to America

One of the biggest transformations in asphalt paving technology came in the late 1860s in the city hall in Newark, New Jersey. A Belgian chemist named Edmund J. DeSmeldt used a sand mix patterned from a natural asphalt pavement he studied in France. The mixture caught on so well that he later went on to pave Washington D.C. Asphalt at this time was acquired from natural resources and didn’t begin to be manufactured materials until the 1900s.

Manufactured Mixes

The National Asphalt Pavement Association writes that by 1907, most asphalt pavement mixtures were being manufactured as refined asphalt, rather than natural stripping of the past. And because automobiles were becoming increasingly popular, cities needed to find a way to make better passage for people traveling in this new way. Hot mix asphalt was starting to become popular and required more skills to manufacture. The earliest HMA “consisted of shallow iron trays heated over open coal fires.” With warp speed, by 1920, the mechanics of mixing the HMA made even more modern strides by becoming portable with semi-cold mixes.

Asphalt Paving Technology Today

There have been many improvements in asphalt mixtures and applications over the last 100 years. The industry has begun embracing the recycling and reclamation of materials through specialized machinery. Also, many scientists are looking to improve the quality of the product and do advanced research, like the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University in Alabama. Because of these advancements, we are able to use asphalt paving for more than just roads for vehicles. They can be found on surfaces that see high volumes, such as airports and even tracks at schools.

Modern Solutions for You

Cassidy Paving works hard to bring the newest and best services for all of your asphalt paving needs. We specialize in commercial, industrial, and residential paving services across Massachusetts. When you hire us you get industry-leading techniques that have been researched and tested over our many years in the business. Give us a call today at 866-978-9788 to start your free estimate.
Filed Under: Asphalt

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Based in Haverhill, MA, Cassidy Paving is a commercial paving company serving southern NH and Massachusetts.

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