The word asphalt comes from the Greek, "asphaltos," which means "secure," and asphalt has been used as a paving material at least since 625 B.C. Sir Walter Raleigh discovered a lake of asphalt in Trinidad in 1595, but it still wasn't until the 18th Century in England that John Metcalf put down the first asphalt road network, 180 miles in Yorkshire. In 1870, a Belgian chemist devised the first true asphalt pavement laid in the U.S. in front of Newark, NJ,'s city hall. He then paved Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. Competition among suppliers grew so heated that municipalities were able to set their own requirements and demand warranties. From 1900 to 1907, asphalt produced from refined petroleum outstripped natural asphalt shipped in from Trinidad and Bermuda. By the mid-1930s, asphalt was the dominant paving material, accounting for 80% of the new highways built by state DOTs. Air quality concerns in the 1960s changed the way asphalt plants were designed. In 1986, the industry established a research center, the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University, AL. Developments since then have included open graded friction course refinements, Superpave and gap-graded Superpave.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • November/December 2001
  • Authors:
    • Cervarich, M B
  • Publication Date: 2001-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Photos;
  • Pagination: p. 32-37
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00824414
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 28 2002 12:00AM