Asphalt / Hot mix Roads

In the forties, hundreds of miles of concrete highway were laid down in Australia and people had sat back and said: "There, that’s permanent. That will last as long as the Roman roads and longer, because no grass can grow up through the concrete to break it." But it wasn’t so.

The rubber-shod trucks, the pounding automobiles, beat the concrete and after a while, the life went out of it and began to crumble. Then a side broke off and a hole crushed through and a crack developed and little water in the winter spread the crack so the resisting concrete could not stand the beating of rubber and broke down.

Then the State maintenance crews poured tar in the cracks to keep the water out and that didn’t work, and finally they capped the roads with an asphalt and gravel mixture. That did survive because it offered no stern face to the pounding tyres.

It gave a little and came back a little. It softened in the summer and hardened in the winter. And gradually, all the roads were capped with shining black that looked black gold in the distance.

John Steinbeck