Although still the traditional black color, one local business is laying “Green Asphalt” in multiple infrastructure projects throughout the Tucson area.
Tucson Asphalt’s patent-pending Green Asphalt offers bonuses beyond leaving a solid ground beneath your feet. The “Optimal Designed Hot Mix Asphalt Overlay Product” is a one-inch coat that can be laid on top of existing pavement in need of repair.
According to Tucson Asphalt president Paul Polito, one of the main benefits of Green Asphalt is contractors not having to rip up old asphalt before pouring new asphalt on top.
“We save a lot of liquid asphalt material like that,” Polito said, “It really is incredible.”
Polito has worked with concrete and asphalt for over 30 years, previously working at Granite Construction. His chemical knowledge from working there contributed to him forming his Green Asphalt from special polymers which he says allows for materials to be “hard and soft at the same time.”
Designed here in Tucson, the asphalt is specifically made to weather the extreme heats of the Southwest. But besides the heat, the asphalt has even proved successful in weathering the occasional winter freezes around Tucson without cracking. And while their green asphalt is made and designed for Southern Arizona, according to Tucson Asphalt, plans for expansion are always a possibility.
The greater durability and efficiency is what leads the company to estimate their Green Asphalt has an average carbon savings of six to one, compared to traditional asphalt. Thus far, they’ve placed their product in the cities of Bisbee, Sahuarita and Tucson, and are working with the University of Arizona and Tucson Water.
“The only roads or pavements we turn down as green candidates are loose chunky pavements, flaky pieces of lipped up chip seal and or slurry that really are no longer a roadway pavement at all,” Polito said.
The polymer design also flattens out existing rough surfaces, providing for a smoother ride and eliminating the drainage issues that rougher, more porous asphalts can have. These benefits lead to Tucson Asphalt calling it more than just green asphalt, but a green asphalt pavement preservation system.
Tucson Asphalt’s Green Asphalt has even caught the eye of the Pima County Department of Transportation. The Department selected a 4.3 mile section of San Joaquin Road as a testing ground for 12 different asphalt treatments. The different pavements, set in 1,000 foot test strips, are located between Old Ajo Highway and Milky Way Drive.
Alongside pavement fixtures such as roller-compacted concrete and rubberized chip seal is the Green Asphalt. The Pima County Department of Transportation will examine the wear to test segments every six months, predicting performance each treatment over time. By doing so, the department will determine the best, most cost-effective and long-term treatment options.
“I truly believe we’re going to outperform them all,” Polito said. “There’s just too many benefits.”
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