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After years of working in and around asphalt the answer to that question is simple: from day one of placement asphalt begins to break down. Upon installation, asphalt is a strong yet somewhat flexible structure. Over time however, sunlight and moisture are the major causes of surface deterioration. Without proper protection, surfaces oxidize permitting the aggregate in the asphalt mix to wash away. Rain, snow, ice, traffic, plowing, movement, de-icers, oils and other hazardous fluids break down the structure of asphalt even further. The deterioration process exponentially increases with age as weak pavement is more vulnerable. The original oils present in the asphalt have disappeared with increasing dryness/brittleness. Needless to say, such pavement is not as enduring to traffic and any of the elements as it once was, resulting in cracks and the beginning of "pavement failure".
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