Asphalt is one of those great words in road construction that you just marvel as its wonderful mélange of language influence. The word dates back beyond the Greeks in origin, and while it generally refers to sticky/oily stuff, the modern usage is that of a bitumen petroleum product added to road macadam. Bitumen can also be called tar, which leads us to tarred macadam, or tarmac, which is the modern substance we see covering most of the roads of the Eastern United States, mostly due to its malleability in the face of freezing winters. That same malleability is, in the beating heat of summer, a bit of a problem. Dr. Gridlock tells us that due to the high heat and humidity, it’s unlikely the road surfaces will be able to contract in the cool of evening, and we might see some issues on area roads over the next few days as temperatures soar.
In DC, if you spot roads that are buckling badly, it’s probably a good idea to call DDOT at 311 to let them know, or tweet @DDOTDC. In Maryland, fill out an online form. In Virginia, if you’re in Arlington, call call 703-228-3000, or in the rest of the state, fill out this online form.