New pavement paving streets

A fresh coat of asphalt after being laid down on a city street. (Chanss Lagaden, CBC)

A Queens university researcher says roads in cities such as Thunder Bay are wearing down far too quickly. 

Simon Hesp, a chemistry professor who studies the quality of asphalt cement, said roads are cracking sooner than they should because too much recycled asphalt and cheap additives are used today.

He said it's up to municipalities to understand and regulate the materials companies are using.

"You can do things much better, but there has to be a will and there has to be pressure to do it. Just do it right. The know-how is there," Hesp said. 

"And when you pay a million dollars for a kilometre of road, you don't put an old engine in there. You should put in the good quality materials."

Simon Hesp

Queen's University chemistry professor Simon Hesp (provided)

Hesp said some Ontario municipalities are already bringing in stricter rules about what materials can be used to make their roads.

That's because some new cement mixtures include cheap additives such as recycled motor oil and vegetable oil. Hesp said these ingredients are lowering the quality of cement. 

"A few years ago we found out that maybe 50 percent of the asphalt cement in Ontario has traces of used motor oil in it."

"So pretty much we find all sorts of things that we never knew about, and that shouldn't be in there. So the recycling is good but not when you cut the life in half of the new pavement."