Asphalt is unfitted to creating paths in coastal environments. When storms rise and cover the pavement’s surface, the material breaks up into small chunks which are difficult to recover, and these can remain along the shoreline for years, breaking down into petrochemical products that continue to impact the water quality.
This is very different from concrete paths and roadways, which admittedly require greater input of resources, but typically last longer. The initial cost difference is about 135-150% of asphalt, but the expected life is 27.5 years, instead of asphalt’s 15.5 year life. Both surface materials require proper sub-base beds to support anticipated loads. Concrete maintains integrity under much greater loads, with higher traffic rates and lower maintenance. When concrete breaks down, it is inert and recyclable.
Northern climates use asphalt because it is more flexible in cold weather, and less likely to be damaged by frost heaving or salt deposits from anti-snow measures. In the South, the additional heat reflected by the black asphalt causes objects to sink into the pools of hot tar. Concrete is a cooler material, reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it, and lowering temperatures on top and surrounding it.
We are devoted to reducing ocean pollution and marine debris from storms and other sources. The installation of roads and buildings should contribute as little as possible to marine damage. Asphalt is not a good solution to creating roads, trails, and driveways in fragile coastal environments; concrete and permeable pavements are preferred solutions for access.