It’s that time of year, when the first brave motorcycle riders are nosing out on the streets, only to be confronted by sand drifts in the roadway, along with thousands of potholes.
The sand drifts will wash away in the rain or get swept up by road crews, but the potholes? Sometimes those stay with us for weeks, or, in the case of CMG’s new home province of New Brunswick, the potholes stick around for years. ‘Arris and I both have craters in the streets of our towns that we’ve given affectionate nicknames, as they’re familiar faces that re-appear every spring.
OK, maybe I made some of that up.
But for those riders who are frustrated by the never-ending conversion of our public streets to lunar landscapes, there’s hope. According to an article in the National Post, one professor thinks we can prolong the life of our asphalt with a simple recipe change.
See, roadworkers across our country answer our constant complaints about potholes by saying there’s nothing they can do – the ongoing freeze/thaw cycle our roads see every spring means cracked pavement fills with water, then splits apart into gaping craters.
According to Simon Hesp, an engineering professor at Queen’s University who’s studied asphalt for two decades, there’s more to the problem than a simple squabble with Mother Nature. Hesp says paving companies are using asphalt that’s mixed with motor oil. That’s supposed to make the asphalt able to handle a wider fluctuation in temperature, and in some warmer climates, that might work.
Hesp says that isn’t the case in the Great White North, though; he claims all this used motor oil that’s being dumped into asphalt is actually making it more brittle, and more likely to break up, creating the potholes that imperil riders everywhere.
His proposed solution is simple: Stop dumping used motor oil into asphalt, since he thinks its benefits are far outweighed by its disadvantages.
According to the Post, not everyone agrees with Hesp; they list Alexander Brown, technical director of the Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association as a disbeliever, along with Prof. Susan Tighe, an engineering professor from the University of Waterloo. On the other hand, Mark Campbell, construction manager for the city of Kingston, says his city has implemented Hesp’s ideas, and they seem to be happy with it.