There are both pros and cons associated with both gravel and asphalt roads. For example, gravel driveways and/or roads are much cheaper than asphalt driveways/roads. However, asphalt is considered to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. In addition, gravel roads are more prone to developing ruts, but asphalt can develop cracks over time. Therefore, I believe that it is a matter of preference. However, for longer roads, asphalt is the better alternative because I believe it is easier to drive on a paved road than a gravel road.
Like mire2187 said, it comes down to a matter of preference. However, if gravel is something you are considering, there are a lot of benefits that it can provide. The cost of gravel is substantially less than asphalt or concrete. The life of a gravel driveway (not necessarily a heavily used road) is about 60 years compared to about 8-15 years for asphalt and 2-25 years for concrete. Gravel also provides excellent drainage and water will run off naturally as opposed to into lakes and streams or a sewer system.
Since asphalt is smoother than a gravel road, cars get better gas mileage on asphalt than concrete. In general, vehicles perform better on smoother roads. In Finland, roads are extremely well-maintained and kept “smooth as glass” to optimize fuel efficiency for drivers. So, asphalt roads are better for the environment than gravel roads in the sense that they give better gas mileage. However, as bmalc889 said, gravel roads are better at providing drainage. So, there are trade-offs. People tend to use asphalt and concrete for constructing more heavily used roads, so they tend to last a shorter length of time than gravel roads, which may be only used for private driveways and other roads that do not get heavy traffic. The less a road is used, the longer it will last.
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