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ITD's Asphalt Laboratory keeps busy testing for better roads

The testing includes for both concrete and black top asphalts and stripping
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 10, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department's Asphalt Laboratory is responsible for quality testing to make sure the roads you drive are durable, and safe.

  • ITD's Asphalt Laboratory keeps busy
  • They test for both concrete and black top asphalt
  • They also test for white and yellow stripping

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

Before you drive over it, the concrete and black top asphalt must go under closely monitored scrutiny. Lab manager Chad Clawson explains.

‘’We take cement, and we melt it, we actually melt powder to a liquid state, and it pours it out and makes clear lenses that you can shine a light through it and it tells us what the elements are in the cement sample.”

And it’s not just the road itself, the yellow and white striping must meet specific standards so we can clearly see them at night.

 “We are testing paints de-icers, glass beads we’re making sure the glass beads have the right size that it reflects the light back to our eyes at night so the striping is we’ll seen in the evenings at night.”

 I asked Clawson always what makes a good highway.

 “One is, is there good workmanship, good materials being used are the materials being mixed uniformly, throughout is their good quality control and is being impacted uniformly.”

Idaho’s highways are not immune to potholes, so that’s why their crews always keep a close eye on the surface of the roads.

“So, an example of a core taken from the roadway it shows the rock different sized of rocks, it shows the asphalt binder in between the rock particles and if you look closely if it shows air voids .”

 It’s easy to get lost in words like rotational viscosity, and elastic recovery, but the bottom line in all of this testing is…

 “In the long term is reduces cost. We put a lot of effort in design and construction and when they come together, they make good long-lasting roads.”