Hard Road Ahead

Michael J. Coren has a preview of an MIT report that lays out the economic and environmental benefits of stiffer pavement.

1 minute read

June 5, 2012, 8:00 AM PDT

By jerinbrent


It's not much, but roadway asphalt has a springiness to it. As cars roll over asphalt they create indentions about .0003 inches deep. As a result, cars are essentially going up a tiny, yet endless, hill.

"A study by MIT civil engineers found stiffening the nation's pavements could cut fuel use by 3%, the equivalent of 273 million barrels of crude oil, or $15 billion, per year. As a result, CO2 emissions (PDF) would fall by 46.5 million metric tons per year (more than Oregon emits from burning fossil fuels annually)," writes Coren.

The research by Mehdi Akbarian and Franz-Josef Ulm of MIT will appear later this month in the Transportation Research Record. The researchers insist that the cost of replacing roadway surfaces would pay for itself over time. A statement from MIT indicates "...state departments of transportation would save money while reducing their environmental footprint over time, because the roads won't deteriorate as quickly."

Thanks to Jessica Brent

Monday, June 4, 2012 in Fast Co.Exist

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