The road infrastructure is a major concern in the civilization of human being. Roads, bridges and tunnel link people together from the past to the present days. The pavement technology evolved through the centuries. The materials varied with time: from an earthy surface, to stones or cubes, from concrete slabs to hot mix polymer modified drainage asphalt. Depending upon the service condition and the atmospheric exposure, two main materials are used: concrete and asphalt. These building materials exhibited a significant mechanical property evolution in the last decades. Nonetheless, durability aspects, sustainability and maintenance costs awakened some discussions on the general performance of white (concrete) and black (bitumen) materials to be used as a pavement. The case studies focus on some main advantages and disadvantages of both cement-based and bituminous systems. They both can exhibit satisfactory general characteristics, such as surface roughness, mechanical strength, work placing velocity, recycling. Nonetheless, light reflection, surface regularity and the durability may be different. Longitudinal, transverse, net and tongue-like cracks, joints, pop-ups, wash-outs, chemical reactions and surface detachments are some of the defects that influence the functionality. These are largely related to the road layer system properties, road geometry, environment and at the end to the material choice.
Keywords: Concrete, asphalt, road, pavement, durability.