Smooth Roads Lead to Emission Reductions

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A new study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation reveals that maintenance of roads and highways can reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2 per cent. 

Actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are good for the planet and can mitigate climate change.

Pavement maintenance also offers other benefits like savings in spending between 10 to 30 per cent of transportation agencies. Because smooth roads offer less tire traction, it can reduce driver’s fuel consumption by up to 5 per cent, and saving from tire wear, vehicle repair and maintenance.

The study looked at four common asphalt treatment methods to determine the environmental costs of each method consisting of:

  1. thin asphalt overlay of up to 2 inches on road surfaces,
  2. chip seal that involves spraying asphalt emulsion on pavement then laying down aggregate materials,
  3. spreading slurry over the pavement, and
  4. crack seal that consists in filling cracks with rubberized asphalt or polymer-modified asphalt with some filler. 

Using a Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) on these four pavement treatments, methods were tested. It showed that there is a reduction of carbon emission because of pavement surface improvements despite emissions generated during the construction.

Among the four conventional pavement treatments, the thin asphalt overlays show the highest reduction (2%) in emissions because of pavement smoothness. In contrast, the crack seal methods show the lowest reductions in carbon emissions at 0.5 per cent.

The findings in the study would hopefully assist transportation agencies to factor in climate change in road maintenance and choose the best methods that would reduce carbon emissions.

To read the entire study, CLICK on the link below:

Source Citation:

Hao Wang, Israa Al-Saadi, Pan Lu & Abbas Jasim (2020) Quantifying greenhouse gas emission of asphalt pavement preservation at construction and use stages using life-cycle assessment, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 14:1, 25-34, DOI: 10.1080/15568318.2018.1519086

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