Last summer, record-breaking temperatures in the United Kingdom saw a number of roads turn gooey as they began melting.
As the mercury rose to 40.3°C, surface gritting machines had to be brought out by road authorities, which they usually mobilize when it is snowing.
However, there has been no asphalt melting in Israel, where temperatures can go higher in the southern Arava desert and the Jordan Valley.
But, the region is going to get significantly hotter almost 80 years in the future. According to the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS), there will be an average increase in temperature of 4°C.
The Director of Sustainable Development and ESG at the National Roads Company of Israel, Adi Gamliel said that the engineering calculations in Israel are different because it is hotter from the beginning.
Gamliel stated that they have to consider a number of factors, such as the amount of bitumen and basalt to be used, the number of layers to put under the surface, the size of aggregates and the absorption of water by the soil below.
He noted that they had had to adjust to the changes in local conditions, highlighting the construction of underpasses in southern Israel along the roads that go through the Arava Desert.
Thanks to these underpasses, they were able to save money that would have otherwise been spent on repairing roads that would have had difficulty in water absorption.
However, Gamliel stated that they should not make any plans for average temperature because they do not indicate the impact of destructive weather events that only last for days.
He worked with the IMS and also took samples of asphalt from the roads all over Israel. He, along with his team, will use them to determine what should be done and how spending can be prioritized.
He said that they cannot predict how hot a road can get and this is precisely what they want to find. For instance, he said that some roads had been built decades ago and repair work had also been done.
But, not all areas reach the highest temperatures, so they need to focus on areas where temperatures go high.
It should be noted that roads are not under pressure just because of climate change. The army and emergency services are another reason why roads need to be in excellent condition.
Gamliel said that nowadays, there is a greater number of trucks that travel on the roads for delivering mail-order items. He said that these trucks transport a lot more than is permitted.
He also said that they need to incorporate earthquake risks as well, since Israel is close to the Syrian-African rift, which is tectonically active.
Netivei Israel is searching for materials that can survive in extreme conditions and are also sustainable. They are also looking into using glass for road construction, which cannot be recycled, or using building waste.
Netivei Israel is working with the Technion to find alternatives to bitumen, which is a fossil fuel that emits global gases during production.