KSL TRAFFIC

A new, better asphalt mix might be coming to Utah roads

Mar 13, 2023, 5:00 PM

a crew pours asphalt on a utah road...

Hyrum Purcell does asphalt work with Tempest Enterprises on 1700 East near 300 West in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of construction delays you face on your commute might be going down. Engineers for the Utah Department of Transportation are testing a new weather-tough asphalt. 

UDOT‘s Executive Director Carlos Braceras said the new material mix is built for durability and has endured harsh conditions tests.

Winter does a number on the roads because moisture expands cracks in the pavement. And, heavy snow plows add stress to the asphalt. According to Braceras, test results for a new asphalt mix are looking good.

Braceras said the material has shown stability even in harsh conditions, which reduces the number of potholes and cracks.

And, the tough asphalt could mean less construction time needed to cure those breakups, and even better, a shorter repair time and potentially less traffic disruption.

Dr. Howard Anderson, the state’s top asphalt engineer, said the new mix requires less work to apply.

“The only thing that makes it work, is that we’re using a better glue. We’re putting more polymers into the asphalt binder itself, making it stronger, make it more waterproof is what we’re doing.”

The new asphalt could also have a longer life.

Asphalt has a design life of 20 years but the new asphalt could potentially extend that by four or five years.

That’s good news for drivers, but it’s also good for UDOT, which spends around one million dollars each year to patch up road damage.

The new mix still needs more testing to prove its effectiveness but Anderson said UDOT’s asphalt engineers are confident in the new mix.

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