National Highways will next month begin a multi-million-pound resurfacing scheme, starting with the A11. The project will remove concrete road surfacing and roads will be rebuilt using recycled materials and asphalts.
Most concrete roads are found in the North East, Yorkshire, East Anglia and the South East; the project will focus on resurfacing stretches of the A11, A14, A12, A120 and M11, upgrading approximately 200 miles (2%) of the National Road Network.
Concrete, despite being the second most-used substance in the world, runs into problems on the roads. Made by mixing aggregate (crushed rock and sand), along with cement and water, concrete forms a stiff but strong solid.
This rigidity, however, means road surfaces are prone to cracks, especially if the underlying foundations are not perfectly smooth.
Asphalt is also aggregate-based but uses bitumen, a sticky material derived from crude oil, as a binder. The mixture is heated and pressed into the road’s surface with a steamroller.
Once cooled, asphalt surfaces are highly durable, providing also good flexibility to accommodate imperfections in the surface beneath – a feature that gives it the edge over concrete.
National Highways Martin Fellows welcomes a refresh: “‘The A11 is a vital route used by 45,000 drivers every day for work journeys and home deliveries, visits to friends and family, and the movement of goods and services. However, the road surface of this stretch is more than 25 years old and despite serving us well, is coming to the end of its life and needs reconstruction.”