So I'm approaching this question the wrong way. Instead of asking how long a road would last (which is apparently too broad for stackex), let me tell YOU how long I want it to last and you can tell ME under what conditions that would be reasonable.

I'm thinking I want a road that if looked upon would only reveal patches. Let's call it somewhere between 10-30% of the road remains. I would prefer if the road were previously cut through a heavily wooded, back-country area and over time the grass, leaves and trees have encroached (actually, the trees probably approach but don't encroach). Yearly temps range from low in the 30's in winter to highs in the 90's in summer. Average rainfall somewhere between 20 - 40 inches per year. The only wear comes from sun, wind, rain and infrequent snow.

Based on the above criteria would it be reasonable for such remains to exist after 100 years? 200? 250-300?

What parameters above would you change to MAKE such a road last 100 years? 200? 250+? (If this question is too broad for stackex, I'll withdraw it)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @J.R. That's what I'm getting at. It really depends on how the road is constructed. I know a lady that grew up in Alaska and moved to Michigan later in life. She said that the roads there never fall apart, even though the freeze/thaw cycle there is worse, because they built them the right way the first time. Another problem you have is that few studies will take into account untraveled roads, and traveled roads wont get overgrown while people are using them. They might get washed out, or potholed, but not overgrown. Do you have a general geographic area to help focus the question? $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ @J.R. The problem is that there cannot be a "best" answer because how would you compare the difference between an answer for desert to one for jungle to one for arctic? Questions need to be constrained enough that answers can be objectively rated against each other. Feel free to ask multiple questions for multiple environments but currently I have to agree to the others. This is a fantastic question topic for the site but currently too broad. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ See: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/522/… $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Nov 20, 2015 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Brythan the point is I never wanted it narrow. I was seeking information to make a decision. I was looking for approximates so I could worldbuild. i.e. a road might last 50 years in temps from x to y with little rainfall. a road might last 20-30 years under these conditions, etc. I know stackexchange only deals in exacting specificity but on this occasion I was looking for ballpark answers without having to ask 10 specific questions each slightly different until I could assemble them all into 1 "answer" $\endgroup$
    – J.R.
    Nov 20, 2015 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


I know of such a piece of road that was bypassed in the 1930s and not used other than as a footpath since then. Most still recognisably road. Vegetation encroaching over asphalt from sides but not yet meeting in middle. One stretch on a gradient completely washed away. This in English woodland, summer temperature rarely over 70F and winters generally mild but wet (40" annual rain) Hope this helps.

A lot will depend on how well a road was built to start with. I have walked on another path that was once a Roman road and in a few short stretches the Roman road is still identifiable. Many Roman roads were the best in the country 1500 years after they were built and many modern UK roads still rest on Roman foundations.

  • $\begingroup$ And this @nigel222 is exactly the type of response I was hoping for. You've given a first-hand account of a road still recognizable as one (with asphalt still showing) 80+ years later. thank you. $\endgroup$
    – J.R.
    Nov 20, 2015 at 23:39

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