Concrete may seem like a bit of a dry subject, but when over $30 billion is being spent annually on road maintenance alone in the US, and everybody in the country knows of roads that are still badly in need of repair, it quickly becomes evident how important it is to make them as durable as possible.
In Canada, the problem is even worse. Extreme temperatures, plus the salt and the scraping that comes with them, generate myriad problems for road crews and government budgets there.
Which is one reason why they have a National Research Council Institute for Research in Construction. And the driving reason that one of this department's projects is called Sustainability and Durability of Reinforced High-Performance Concrete Structures. The project's leader, Daniel Cusson, has recently appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, announcing a breakthrough in concrete technology, in which they have developed a crack-resistant version that is more durable than any other concrete available today.
The implications are significant, because this new concrete effectively doubles the replacement period that is currently the norm. You don't have to be a math genius to see that's a cost saving of roughly 50%.
The cost savings aren't necessarily just in existing concrete roadwork, though. If this catches on, and we start seeing concrete on more road surfaces than the bridges where it is most commonly found today, it could also prove to be a saving for motorists. Previous research done by Canada's National Research Council indicated that concrete surfaces are more fuel efficient for heavier vehicles, as can be seen in this video: