Asphalt Maintenance

Where would we be without that black sticky stuff called asphalt? We drive on it, cycle on it and walk on it. We rely on smooth asphalt roads to get us where we want to go quickly. About 70 billion pounds of asphalt is used annually in the United States alone and this number increases exponentially every year.

Almost all asphalt used today is derived from petroleum after naphtha, gasoline, kerosene and other fractions have been removed. Very little is produced from other natural resources. Although asphalt has been around for millions of years in crude oil, it doesn’t last forever when used for paving roads. Roads become soft in the summer sun and tend to become rutted or deformed. Over time, the roads become brittle and crack under the stress of traffic. Cracks then allow water from rain or snow to penetrate the asphalt, compromising the soils underneath. Add to this the freeze thaw cycles of Utah winters and potholes literally appear overnight.

Repair Methods

Currently our crews utilize two different methods for repairing potholes depending upon the season. During the winter months potholes receive what is known as cold winter mix. This is a temporary fix consisting of a soft asphalt which is poured into the potholes after they have been cleared of debris. A layer of gravel may be added to increase strength and stability, but the potholes are often expected to reappear by spring.

A more permanent fix for potholes is called a hot summer mix. This combination of road grade asphalt and aggregate is designed to last for years but it can only be applied during dry, warm weather. When road crews use a hot summer mix to repair potholes they often reroute traffic around the work site and spend more time preparing the road surface for the patch. The finished layer of new asphalt is compacted to match the level of the road, rendering it nearly invisible.

If you would like to report a pothole that needs to be repaired, please call the Street Division at (801) 854-5933.