Today we’re continuing a series that started with an article posted a few weeks ago based on The Basics of Asphalt. We have been covering different aspects and properties of asphalt, from its economic factors to its engineering components. Today we’ll continue discussing some historical facts concerning the emergence of asphalt. Last week we overviewed asphalt’s ancient history from Babylon to New World Explorers and will now move on to consider the development of early roads so we can see how asphalt was eventually integrated into road and pavement design.
Before asphalt was used in paving roads, good methods of road building needed to be developed. One such contributor was Englishman John Metcalf, the first professional road builder to manifest during the Industrial Revolution, who in the early 1700s built 180 miles of Yorkshire road. Metcalf understood the importance of good drainage and used a foundation of large stones, then to raise the roadbed covered it with excavated road material. Lastly, his roads were finished with a layer of gravel.
Thomas Telford made substantial contributions to road building as a civil engineer and between 1803-1821 built over 900 miles of road in Scotland. He perfected the method of using broken stones for roads and using systems to account for the weight and traffic they would need to support.
John Loudon McAdam was Telford contemporary and the Scottish engineer’s most significant contribution was introducing the use of hot tar to bind road’s large surface stones. This was done originally to reduce dust and maintenance and earned the name “tarmacadam” pavements. His name is still partially used when we describe tarmac. He also invented a new process for building roads with smooth hard surfaces that led to better durability and less muddiness. He did this using controlled materials of mixed particle size and a predetermined structure.
It would take only a few more decades for asphalt to be integrated into early road design. Next week we’ll continue this mini-history series and discuss how bituminous mixtures began to be used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and even roads beginning in the late 1860s as well as changing techniques in production and construction.
Improvements in Asphalt Today
We hope you’ve learned something new regarding the history of early roads. History showcases how things are constantly improved and advanced. We do our best to continue that legacy and strive to perfect the use of asphalt, especially when it comes to serving you and your project needs. We are always working to create a better and more cost-effective option for you and are here for ANY and ALL of your asphalt or pavement questions and needs.
Call us today or Click Here for a Free Quote on your asphalt paving needs.