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Paving Services - Laying the Foundation for Asphalt Roads
Despite these early uses of asphalt, several hundred years passed before European or American builders tried it as a paving material. What they needed first was a good method of road building.
Englishman John Metcalf, born in 1717, built 180 miles of Yorkshire roads. He insisted on good drainage, requiring a foundation of large stones covered with excavated road material to raise the roadbed, followed by a layer of gravel. Thomas Telford built more than 900 miles of roads in Scotland during the years 1803–1821. “He perfected the method of building roads with broken stones, laid to a depth according to the weight and volume of traffic it would have to carry,” Gillespie writes.
Telford’s contemporary, John Loudon McAdam, taught himself engineering after being appointed a trustee of a Scottish turnpike. McAdam observed that it was the “native soil” that supports the weight of traffic, and that “while it is preserved in a dry state, it will carry any weight without sinking.” To construct his roads, McAdam used broken stone “which shall unite by its own angles so as to form a hard surface.” Later, to reduce dust and maintenance, builders used hot tar to bond the broken stones together, producing “tarmacadam” pavements.
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