Origins of Asphalt Paving and Why We Still Use It Today

Asphalt covers a large majority of paved roads in the United States (94%!), as well as most driveways, parking lots, racetracks, tennis courts, airport runways, and more. While the first recorded instance of asphalt used as a road surface was in 615 BCE, it was in the late 19th century that it became prevalent in the United States. The Greeks and Romans utilized the sealing properties of asphalt, and in 1595, Europeans who were exploring the New World discovered asphalt in natural deposits and utilized it to seal and caulk their ships.

In the late 1860s, the United States produced the first bituminous mixtures and used them to create sidewalks and crosswalks, and eventually some roads. The first truly asphalt-paved road in the US was laid by a Belgian chemist who used an asphalt sand mixture to pave the road in front of Newark, New Jersey’s City Hall. He eventually paved Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. as well, which confirmed to scientists and those interested in asphalt paving that the natural deposits of asphalt found in the United States were as good of a quality as the asphalt that was brought in from Europe. 

Even though asphalt has been around for centuries the first official asphalt paving patent was filed in 1871 and after that, the next patent was filed in 1990. Another interesting point is that Asphalt production techniques have significantly changed since the beginning and a major reason for that was to keep up the demand for asphalt seeing that in a four-year span in the 1930s, asphalt played a role in about 80% of roadway construction across the United States. The industry boomed during and after World War II, as the need for sturdier runways and more roadways increased, and the State Highway Act, passed by Congress in 1956, allotted $51 billion to road construction, increasing the need for asphalt paving and resulting in far more paved roads.

The production of asphalt has improved, as has the equipment used in asphalt paving. Asphalt paving companies have embraced these technological advances to improve their efficiency in laying asphalt roads and in creating parking lots, driveways, and more made of asphalt pavement. Not only is asphalt paving cheaper than alternatives (such as concrete), but it also has many other benefits.

When we’re talking about asphalt pavement making up the majority of our highways, interstates, and local roads, price is incredibly important, and asphalt paving companies can lay a road for less money than a company who is using a different material. Asphalt pavement is quieter than alternatives, and vehicles are able to drive on newly paved roads made with asphalt much quicker than with any other material. Commercial asphalt paving is quick and easy to do, and repairs can be made very quickly on asphalt pavement. Asphalt paving is more eco-friendly as it is made with recycled materials, and it offers more give than concrete, leading to fewer cracks when settling or when place on varying terrains.

Asphalt paving has a rich history, both in the US and abroad, and here at LSC Construction Services, we are proud to be one of the top asphalt paving companies in Bloomington, MN and the entire Twin Cities area. If you need commercial asphalt paving or need repairs on your asphalt pavement, give us a call today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *