New type of asphalt promises to make Colorado roads more durable

Local

A new paved road in the Broadmoor Bluffs neighborhood is more than just fresh asphalt.

The Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division is trying out a new asphalt fiber additive that could extend the life of our roads and save a significant amount of taxpayer dollars over time.

The secret ingredient to the new asphalt is yellow pieces of fiber–the same material used in Kevlar. When mixed into asphalt, they reduce cracking and rutting by adding strength, toughness and durability to the roadway.

It costs a little more money up front, but the city should be able to avoid costly repairs and continued maintenance over time.  

They used a little bit of the new asphalt as a test on Broadmoor Bluffs Drive, between Hardwick Drive and Farthing Drive. 

“The roads are in pretty bad shape,” Joanne Peterson, who lives in Colorado Springs, said.  

“I notice there’s a lot of potholes and bad roads,” Arlo Giroux said.

Drivers aren’t impressed by the condition of our streets.  

“When potholes start, they start from a crack,” Corey Farkas, Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division Manager, said. “The asphalt starts to crack, you get water within those cracks, freeze-thaw, it expands, it contracts, and eventually forms a pothole.” 

Because Colorado gets wild temperatures swings, after a brand new road is paved, it is only good for about six months before it’s susceptible to cracks. 

“We are doing a side-by-side comparison,” Farkas said.  

They paved half the road with standard asphalt and the other half with the little pieces of yellow fiber mixed into the asphalt. They are supposed to help reduce cracking and increase durability of our roadways.  

“We like to joke that our roads are now going to be bulletproof,” Farkas said. “Once the fiber goes into the asphalt and the heat hits it, and it starts to do this with the asphalt. It starts to bind everything up.” 

The city said they chose the spot to see if it can hold up in our harsh winters.  

“The Broadmoor is an interesting roadway,” Farkas said. “We got uphill, we have downhill, we have north and south facing slopes. Pretty good weather in the wintertime, and when I say pretty good, I mean a lot of ice and snow.” 

So far, locals approve.  

“If this can improve the quality of the roads and help save the city money in having to repave, I think it’s definitely worth a shot,” Peterson said. “I think it’s innovative.” 

“I imagine with the Kevlar it’s going to last longer,” Giroux said.  

They said it could take up to a year and a half to see differences on the road, but it’s supposed to last three times longer than the original stuff.   

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