Quoted from JodyG:
Hey Illinois/NJ/NY...PA would like to chime in a moment. Pennsylvania has the highest gas tax in the nation and one of the worst kept road systems to boot. Why? Because most of our gas tax money gets diverted to fund the State Police, who always seem to be broke. The PA Turnpike must give 450 million a year directly to fund mass transit in Philly/Pittsburgh. When roads do get fixed, the system is so corrupt that it takes them years and years to complete the project, and the roads/bridges wind up being bumpier than when they started. Or they don't seal the asphalt joints the the road begins to crumble again after 2 winters...so the same clowns get to pave it again! Its like there is zero quality control. There is a relatively simple interchange on I83, just south of the York show location that has been under construction for years. There are literally kids in elementary school who have not been alive as long as the construction has been going on at 83/Mount Rose.
Today's roads are horrible for several reasons:
1 - Blacktop isn't what it used to be. The environmental movement got ahold of blacktop...The oil used in blacktop today is not the same oil used many years ago. Back in the 80's, when you put down new pavement, it stayed dark black for well over a year. Today, when you put down new pavement, by the 3-5 month mark, it is already starting to turn gray. The oil used today is a much lighter oil then was used in the past.
2 - Millings. When a road is milled, those millings are recycled back into the blacktop mix. The biggest issue, is a majority of the plants in production today, were constructed before millings were used. In order to be compliant, they retrofitted their plants in order to use millings. A brand new plant, is designed, to handle it, thus their blacktop isn't weakened by the millings, to where every other pre-existing plant is effected by the millings.
3 - Old concrete roads. Ever drive on a road and 15 - 20 feet, you hit a bump? That's because they paved over an existing concrete road. Come the winter, the old concrete moved differently than the new blacktop on top, creating those bumps. Due to the older blacktop having much more strength, it wasn't that big of an issue...not anymore, cause the new blacktop can't handle the movement of the concrete underneath.
4 - Standards have not evolved. On most roads, there's 1.5" - 2" of a blacktop course, on top of the stabilized base underneath. Before millings and the lighter oil, this thickness was more than capable of handling the traffic. With the blacktop now weakened, IMO, the roads should have 3" of blacktop, to make up for the reduced strength...For full disclosure, I am not a scientist, not sure if 3" is the magic number. But I know the current thickness just isn't working.
5 - American way of paving vs. the German way of paving. Germany has the best roads in the world. The reason for this? They don't care if a road is shut down for an extended period. On any big contract in America, if you finish way ahead of schedule, you get completion bonuses. Also the way we pave. We put down the blacktop as fast as possible. In Germany, they run the machines as slow as possible. You get a better constructed road by going slow. Here, once a road is paved, we let traffic on it immediately. Germany? They keep the road closed for days.