Asphalt upkeep is extremely expensive, and after every winter, town halls across the country are mired in complaints about potholes and cracks in their neighborhood roads. A few cash-strapped cities have found they just can't keep up with the repairs.
In the past five years, transportation agencies in 27 states have unpaved roads, says the National Highway Cooperative Research program. In this article for Wired, Aarian Marshall looks at Montpelier, Vermont, which recently sent a machine called a reclaimer into its community to pulverize the damaged asphalt. From there, the city filled the road with 'geotextile, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.'
“We didn’t know how prevalent this was,” says Laura Fay, an environmental science researcher with Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute, who helped compile the report. But there’s clear reason for it. The Congressional Budget Office finds that the while public spending on transportation and water infrastructure has actually increased since 2003, the costs of asphalt, concrete, and cement have jumped even faster. With those extra expenses factored in, public expenditures on transportation infrastructure relative to cost fell by nine percent between 2003 and 2014.