‘Cool Pavement’ Coming Soon To Some Phoenix Neighborhoods

By Christina Estes
Published: Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 4:22pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 8:18am

wide shot of parking lot with material over asphalt
City of Phoenix
Esteban Park was the first location chosen for Phoenix's cool pavement pilot program.

Some Phoenix streets will look different this summer and fall, thanks to a pilot program aimed at countering the urban heat island effect.

Asphalt collects heat during the day and releases it at night making evening walks uncomfortable and increasing energy use. But that could change in a few neighborhoods that are getting the so-called "cool pavement" treatment. 

Rubben Lolly, special projects administrator for street maintenance, said the material that goes over asphalt has additives so the color resembles a light gray concrete color and reflects back the sunlight, rather than retain heat.

“We think reducing nighttime temperatures to help reduce energy use and also increase the quality of life is important to us,” he said.

The treatment was applied last month in parking areas at Esteban Park at 32nd Street and Roeser Road where Lolly said they documented an 18 degree difference. Portions of local streets in all eight City Council districts will also get the treatment before October. Ongoing data will be collected and the $3.3 million program reviewed after a year.

Lolly said Phoenix representatives visited Los Angeles where cool pavement has been used successfully on neighborhood streets. Phoenix wants to see how the produce holds up during summer and monsoon conditions.

close up of temperature reader
City of Phoenix
The pilot program will study whether the material placed over traditional asphalt reduces nighttime temperatures in Phoenix.

Here are the proposed areas for "cool pavement" chosen by the mayor and council district offices:

  • Mayor: Van Buren Street / Roosevelt Street from 12th Street to 16th Street (mid-August).
  • District 1: Thunderbird Road / Acoma from 47th Avenue to 43rd Avenue (late-August).
  • District 2: Carefree Highway / Languid Lane from open space / 27th Lane (early September).
  • District 3: Shea Boulevard / Cholla Street from 40th Street to 44th Street (mid September).
  • District 4: Van Buren Strett / Roosevelt Street from 31st Avenue to 27th Avenue (mid-August).
  • District 5: Campbell Avenue / Camelback Road from 55th Avenue to 51st Avenue (late-August).
  • District 6: Las Palmaritas Drive / Dunlap Avenue from Central Avenue to 7th Street (late September).
  • District 7: Vineyard Road / Southern Avenue from 43rd Avenue to 39th Avenue (early October).                       
  • District 8: Esteban Park: 3345 E. Roeser Road – Parking Lot (completed).

The city said proposed locations are dependent on weather and some changes may be possible. People who live on streets scheduled for "cool pavement" will be notified before work begins. 

close up of gray looking treatment
City of Phoenix
The treatment is lighter in color than asphalt and reflects back the sunlight that hits it.

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