Bringing Asphalt Pavement Innovations To Airports

Whether for roads or for airports, asphalt pavements provide reliable performance for the travelling public. Innovations in materials, practices and designs are increasing value for pavement owners, while ensuring a high level of sustainability. Warmmix asphalt, recycled materials and perpetual pavement designs were all pioneered on America’s roadways, but these advantages and innovations are also used at airports.

When material is removed from an asphalt pavement as part of maintenance activities, the reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) is reused in a new pavement. At Logan International Airport in Boston and Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, RAP and recycled asphalt shingles have been successfully used in runway and taxiway projects to improve project costs and the overall sustainability profile.

Warm-mix asphalt (WMA) technology is used to reduce the temperatures at which asphalt pavement mixtures are produced and placed. WMA is used in a third of all U. S. roadway and parking lot asphalt mixtures. Now, the FAA National Airport Pavement and Materials Research Center (NAPMRC) in Atlantic City, N.J., is testing WMA for regular use on airport pavements using the world’s largest heavy vehicle simulator. WMA is produced at lower temperatures, reducing the energy needed to produce a mix and allowing paving to be done during colder months.

Finally, perpetual pavement designs limit pavement distress to the easily repaired surface, leaving the structure healthy and strong. Thurgood Marshall/Baltimore-Washington International Airport was awarded a Perpetual Pavement Award in 2002 for its perpetual pavement runways. The FAA’s 40-year pavement design life initiative is now testing different perpetual pavement structural sections and materials at National Airport Pavement Test Facility (NAPTF).


On roads and at airports, innovations in asphalt pavements are making an economical difference for owners.

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