Better Roads

August 2014

Better Roads Digital Magazine

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Better Roads August 2014 5 N ew research is reaffi rming the benefi ts of steel or synthetic engineered fi bers in asphalt pavements and concrete, where they enhance performance, replace fi ne matter, and in the case of concrete, control shrinkage cracking and keep deicing salts away from reinforcing steel. For decades, fi bers of all origins have been hawked as cure-alls for pavement problems. Engineered materials have competed with reclaimed waste products like carpet scraps for their place in pavements, and when a performance prob- lem developed, fi bers in general – not the use of questionable materials – took the blame. But now, fi bers as an engineered material have taken their place in the toolbox of products with utility in road con- struction. Synthetic fi bers for asphalt Cold climates, but also heat and rain in warmer climates cause cracks and deterioration in asphalt, says Scott Nazar, technical manager, FORTA Corp., a supplier of synthetic fi bers. "DOTs and owners of other paved surfaces (e.g. airport runways and parking lots) can enjoy longer pavement life and increased structural stability if the asphalt mix is reinforced with synthetic fi bers," he says. For instance, asphalt at 3.5 inches of depth, reinforced with synthetic fi bers, is as strong as asphalt at 5.5 inches of depth not reinforced with fi bers, Nazar says. "These owners can save in the short term and in the long term," he adds, "because roads reinforced with synthetic fi bers last longer and crack less in the fi rst place, no matter whether the environment is hot or cold." Steel and synthetic engineered fi bers are enhancing performance in asphalt pavements and concrete. Why Functional Fibers in Pavements and Bridges are Important Photo courtesy of FORTA Corp. At Jackson Hole Airport in Teton County, Wyoming, thin asphalt overlay containing synthetic fi bers is placed in this runway project. RoadScience by Tom Kuennen, Contributing Editor

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