Highways England tests new 'anti-ageing cream for roads'

England’s motorways and major A-roads are currently expected to be resurfaced every 10-12 years due to cracks caused by weather and heavy traffic, but it is hoped a new asphalt mix will extend this lifespan.

The material is bound together by a new bitumen which is more resistant to elements such as water, sun, and air as it oxidises at a slower pace. This keeps the road surface flexible for longer and prevents damage from forming, reducing the need for maintenance. Drivers could benefit from fewer delays caused by roadworks and less potholes on our roads.

The first road in the country to be resurfaced with the new material – brought about by Highways England in partnership with Total and Tarmac – is the heavily-used section of the A43 near Silverstone in Northamptonshire.

Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac, said: “What we have in this case is essentially an anti-ageing cream for roads – just as these products are designed to reduce and prevent the signs of fine lines and overall ageing of the skin, the new bitumen being trialled on the A43 will protect the road surface.

“It not only has the potential to offer improved value for money to the public purse, but it also contains properties to increase the overall lifespan of roads.”

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highways engineer, said: “The ultimate priority for us is safety so we invest in new technology and materials to keep those using the roads safe. Longer lasting roads means fewer roadworks, less disruption for motorists and a more sustainable network for everyone.”

The A43 trial is the first time the material has been used with high traffic levels in the UK.

Technical experts from Total will test the performance of the new sticky and waterproof material against an equivalent control section before it is rolled out to other areas.

More durable road surfaces could also reduce the costs and carbon emissions caused by roadworks.

Rick Ashton, market development manager at Total, said: “These life-long binders will ultimately lead towards our vision of net zero carbon by 2050 by reducing roadworks, saving manufacturing, transport and installation energy and the associated emissions.”