On Feb 19, 2022, an article titled “One of Infrastructure Plan’s Biggest Winners is the Pavement You Drive On” was published in the NY Times (see link below). The article references the asphalt industry getting the biggest share of the recently passed infrastructure package which allocates at least $350 billion over 5 years to highway and bridges. There were several statements which were made in the article which need either correction or some additional context.
The executive vice president for advocacy at the National Asphalt Pavement Association stated that asphalt is “America’s No. 1 most recycled product”. This is mis-leading because most asphalt pavements must be recycled due to the road deterioration after just a few years. A recycled product doesn’t mean it is sustainable, especially if it is being removed and replaced every 5 to 7 years.
Concrete pavements are sustainable since they are built to last 40 to 100 years based on the design life of those pavements. Additionally, concrete pavement has several environmental benefits. Not only does concrete pavement’s long life with lower maintenance requirements provide significant cost-savings and decreased carbon footprint throughout its life, but it also provides several other sustainability benefits during the pavement’s ‘use phase’. Because of its rigidity, concrete pavement deflects less under vehicle loading, which results in reduced vehicle fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions. Concrete pavement also retains its smoothness for longer, allowing for additional vehicle fuel saving and carbon reductions. Concrete pavements’ lighter color help mitigate urban heat island (a strategy known as cool pavement) and can help offset global warming through a process called negative radiative forcing. Concrete also absorbs carbon dioxide throughout its life (via something called carbonation).
The article focused on the lobbying efforts of the asphalt industry in getting Biden’s infrastructure bill passed. Let me clarify that it was an industry lead lobbying effort of which some of the other groups included Portland Cement Association, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), American Concrete Paving Association (ACPA), and others.Lastly, the article references that asphalt is used on 94% of America’s roads and bridges. If you look the heart of America’s infrastructure, most state DOT’s are adopting a strategy of “Build for the Long Haul”. That is why of the 225,000 centerline lane miles of highways, the DOT is currently spending 15% of its funds on building with concrete and that % keeps growing every year.
Given the current trends towards sustainability, carbon footprint, build back better, and build back longer, it only makes sense to build back with concrete.
Ron Meskis - CEO