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I've heard that asphalt roads have a much shorter lifespan and much higher maintenance cost than concrete roads. Is this true?

Incidentally, if this is true, why do most governments seem to prefer to use asphalt over concrete?

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    Wouldn't it depend on where the road is? Up in New England, with salt and wide temperature swings, concrete slabs fare very poorly! Even the small slab for my shed is suffering without the salt (and plenty of expansion joints).
    – JasonR
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 14:25
  • I live in Sri Lanka, and asphalt roads develop cracks and pot holes pretty quickly. Specially during rain. The concrete roads have faired better, but take a longer time to settle though
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 7:00
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    @Brightblades: Manitoba (in central Canada) has much wider swings in weather than New England has, but many cities there opt for concrete. However, your point about the local conditions (climate and otherwise) being pertinent does stand. Commented May 11, 2011 at 13:41

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Well, there's a large variation in what constitutes an 'asphalt' road -hot mix, warm mix, etc - but I think what you want to discuss is the difference between PCC and ACC - namely portland cement concrete and asphalt cement concrete.

But as was mentioned, location, weather, traffic patterns, etc all play a role in the 'lifespan' of a type of road covering.

http://www.nrmca.org/taskforce/obsolete/impacts%20of%20cement%20concrete%20pavements.pdf

Most municipalities choose ACC over PCC because it has a lower initial cost to their budget.

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  • I would agree. For road projects, you never see the maintenance budget, just the initial project budget. A $10 million road sounds much better than a $20 million dollar road if you don't see the former requires $30 million in maintenance and the latter $10 million.
    – fred
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 20:15

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