DOT begins using new asphalt that could extend road life

HONOLULU — The state Department of Transportation plans to use a new type of asphalt that could extend road life by years, officials said.

Stone matrix asphalt may reduce the need for filling potholes, fixing cracks and performing other types of regular road maintenance, KHON-TV reported.

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The stronger and more flexible compound could last up to 25 years, officials said.

“Overall way better product that we’ve gotten for the public at a cost of about 1.6 to two times the cost of materials,” said Ed Sniffen, the state Deputy Director of Highways.

A repaving project on Oahu’s Pali Highway added a layer of stone matrix asphalt on top of standard asphalt to make the road smoother and more durable, officials said.

Transportation officials plan to expand use of the asphalt hybrid to various major road arteries.

“We’re already looking toward the next corridors we can do it on,” Sniffen said, noting that the Nimitz Highway, part of Route 92 on Oahu, is scheduled for reconstruction and resurfacing.

The department first experimented with the pavement on a 5-mile stretch of the Moanalua Freeway in 2004. It has held up very well, Sniffen said.

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“That area is super smooth, doesn’t have any cracks in it, and we’ve not touched it or done anything on it for the last 15 years,” Sniffen said. “So we know it works, something that can give us life.”

Sniffen cautioned drivers that a smooth ride can lead to a false sense of security. “If things are smoother, you don’t notice the speeds that you’re driving,” he said.

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