Roads, where would we be without them? Since the age of the ancients, road construction has supported human civilisation and allowed empires to move beyond their homeland and into new and unexplored realms.

The same is mainly accurate today, and while the road construction process has come a long way, their form and function remain remarkably similar to those built thousands of years ago. As far back as 4000 BC, and even in societies without the wheel, roads were constructed to allow animals and people to move between districts, furnishing the spread of trade, communications, and governance.

The world’s oldest roads were stone-paved and ran through ancient Mesopotamian cities like Ur and Babylon. Ancient roads also received a coating of naturally occurring bitumen, a substance still found in the modern asphalt used in today’s road construction process.

Over their long journey, roadways have progressed from not much more than a track worn through the bush to composite constructions of stone and wood supporting strength and allowing for improved drainage. As roadway technology and methods progressed, so did the health, wealth, and connectivity of the people who used them, cementing the humble road as one of humanity’s most significant innovations. 

Fast forward to 2023, and our vehicles, whether for personal travel or heavy logistics, rely on the same method of movement as the ancients 4000 years ago – the wheel. As long as that remains true, even with the rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs), roads will remain the vital lifelines of our world.  

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

Modern Road Construction Methods

Road construction is now a complex and highly involved process. Paving a new road or repairing an existing one is now a top-down exercise, requiring approval, funding, and guidelines from the state before work can commence. 

Here is the road construction process at a glance:

1. Planning and Design

New road construction requires detailed planning and design, including project concept determination, funding identification, and preliminary engineering. The project’s needs must be established to devise a budget and source funding before designing the road.

2. Demolition and Clearing

Roadway demolition and clearing are needed to remove existing infrastructure, extending to trees, rocks, buildings, and other obstacles to make way for a new road. 

3. Ground Works

Modern roadways require ground levelling with just the right curve to allow for proper drainage. A range of dedicated machinery is necessary at this stage, along with experienced personnel to guide the process. 

4. Constructing the Sub-Base

Roadways feature a composite construction of multiple layers each designed to add strength, durability, and drainage to the mix. Depending on the need, a road base can include a primary, sub, and surface course. 

Also, in this phase, the alignment must be checked alongside the cross-section and a drainage system laid out. 

5. Applying the Binder

The binder is a mixture of sizeable aggregate material and oil, which forms a solid and durable layer that provides the necessary structure for the asphalt layer.

6. Laying the Asphalt

The final layer of a roadway, or asphalt surface course, can then be applied. The mixture is heated and spread evenly by an asphalt paver, then smoothed and compacted with a roller to ensure a smooth finish. An additional micro-cracking procedure can be used to de-stress the roadway surface, free air pockets, and minimise its potential to fracture. To finish, a final protective coating is often added to shield the road surface from the elements as much as possible.

Will Roadway Construction go Sci-Fi? 

Despite what you might think, Innovation is also hard at work in the road construction industry. To reduce some of the world’s plastic waste problems, recycled material can be melted into a durable plastic form and mixed with roadway material to create a long-lasting surface solution.

Culverts, catch basins, and drainage pipes can also be made from recycled plastic, while geotextiles and membranes help to stabilise the sub-base during construction. In a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, Asphalt can also be made from recycled car tyres, which, in the coming decades, may also be wired up to provide an electric recharge to passing vehicles.

Studies have shown that this rubber-modified asphalt outperforms its traditional rivals on wear and safety. It’s a testament to the roadway as a human tool that, despite the centuries past, the only thing that will make them obsolete is flying cars.

Even then, roadways could be used as a guiding track and emergency landing strip. As government agencies and transport providers look to the future, the digital world is helping them to make decisions with the help of big data and analytics. And while the roadway of the future is likely to feature some sci-fi elements like fully autonomous vehicles and an extensive EV charging network, chances are its construction will still rely on thousands of years of human engineering. 

Building Superior Roads with GRT

Road building is governed around the world by a wide array of policies and guidelines. GRT understands this and is committed to providing superior roads and surfaces through its thoroughly engineered and fully tested products.

The team’s road-building solutions suit high-end public infrastructure and local access roads through heavily loaded yet variable mining haul roads. GRT’s products provide a cost-effective way to hit structural integrity targets while maintaining a firm focus on sustainable resources and environmentally friendly products.

With GRT’s road binders, you can achieve In-situ stabilisation, sealing, and dust suppression all in one solution. Alongside a thorough geotechnical investigation and lab testing, other aspects to consider when choosing a polymer-based road-building product include:

Particle Size Distribution:  The material grading is used to determine the percentage of fines and the consequences of a fines-rich mix. 

Atterberg limits:  The plasticity of a material can be determined through its characteristics, which further guide whether the mix is suitable or not. 

California Bearing Ratio: CBR testing provides an indication of the material strength (pre-binder) to determine if the material is suitable, but it is not always the most crucial factor.


Dust suppression is a critical issue in the world of mining and resources.

Learn more about GRT’s industry-leading and IoT-connected SMART Dosing Units, and discover how we’re driving better dust suppression solutions for all!

If you’d like to talk with an expert, simply contact us!

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