Asphalt in the Winter

Mon December 03, 2018 - National Edition
Katherine Devlin – CEG Editorial Assistant

Paving in the winter isn’t ideal, but it’s also not impossible.
Paving in the winter isn’t ideal, but it’s also not impossible.

In response to Alaska's recent magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which caused significant damage to the state's infrastructure, ADOTP&F shared some details about paving during the cold winter months.

According to a press release from ADOTP&F, it normally does not pave in the winter. It is harder to compact asphalt before it cools and hardens when it's cold outside. Asphalt that is sufficiently compacted is stronger and lasts longer. Paving in the winter isn't ideal, but it's also not impossible. Here are some steps that ADOTP&F is going to take that will allow it to repair asphalt damaged by the 2018 earthquake.

There are two main factors that affect asphalt compaction: temperature and time.

First, temperature:

  • Chemicals can be added to the asphalt that will allow it to be compacted at lower temperatures than usual, which gives more time to compact;
  • crews will get the asphalt mix as hot as they can before paving;
  • a thicker layer of asphalt, will be placed because a thicker layer will take longer to cool; and
  • tarping truckloads of asphalt will help keep it hot during transport.

Second, time:

  • Crews will use the largest available rollers to cover the most ground as fast as possible;
  • multiple rollers will run at the same time to increase the amount of compaction in a given time period.
  • haul times will be minimized by using the closest available asphalt plant as much as possible.
  • truck wait times will be minimized; and
  • paving will be continuous to avoid stop times.

"We don't usually pave in the winter because it harder and uses more resources, but when it needs to be done, we know how to do it right. Alaska's contractors are experienced and they are dedicated to repairing the asphalt surfaces damaged by this quake," according to an ADOTP&F press release.