a strip of tarmac

bruceltk

Senior Member
Korean-Korea
"Route 128, once regarded as the leading technology hub in the world, was so comprehensively overshadowed by Silicon Valley that it is now just the name of a strip of tarmac around Boston."

Does "a strip of tarmac" mean a physical road, or highway?
 
  • RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    What is the source of this quote? Tarmac sounds odd to me in an American setting - I would expect asphalt or blacktop.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Americans often say 'macadam' for this material common to many road [small rocks, gravel, compressed in tar]. 'tarmac' is short for 'tarmacadam'.
    I've never heard an American call it "macadam". It's tarmac to me. For some reason, airport runways are referred to as "the tarmac" even though they generally aren't. I think outside of that it's rather out-dated. The modern equivalent is asphalt.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member

    Good points, myr. Our experiences differ, but yours is more current, I think. :) For readers, some history:


    From asphaltpavement.org:

    Today, this dark, resilient material covers more than 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States; it’s the popular choice for driveways, parking lots, airport runways, racetracks, tennis courts, and other applications where a smooth, durable driving surface is required. Called at various times asphalt pavement, blacktop, tarmac, macadam, plant mix, asphalt concrete, or bituminous concrete, asphalt pavements have played an important role in changing the landscape and the history of the U.S. since the late 19th century.

    ====================================================

    From macadamco.com


    Asphalt and Macadam, or is it McAdam?

    Did you know that Asphalt covers almost 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States? It’s the surface of choice for parking lots, driveways, racetracks, airport runways, tennis courts[...]

    Our company name is Macadam, which, at the time, we thought summarized what we did pretty well, because macadam is another name for asphalt. And we know asphalt. We’ve been paving, repairing and beautifying asphalt for years. Asphalt is defined as: “a mixture of substances with gravel, crushed rock, or the like, used for paving.”To deepen the history, the word macadam is derived from the “inventor” of the modern paving surface, John Loudon McAdam.
     
    Last edited:

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I've never heard an American call it "macadam". It's tarmac to me. For some reason, airport runways are referred to as "the tarmac" even though they generally aren't. I think outside of that it's rather out-dated. The modern equivalent is asphalt.
    Tarmac and macadam are both shortened forms of "tarmacadam". And s Myridon stated, in the USA we pretty much limit "tarmac" to airport runways (probably as a result of watching too many John Wayne-Seabees movies).

    I know what "macadam" is, but I rarely hear it, and I even more rarely use it.

    Tarmac and macadam are created by using naturally occurring tar and gravel. "Asphalt" uses a by-product of oil production to replace the tar. Most roadways are asphalt. I'm not certain what "black top" driveways are paved with.

    Crossed with Benny who manages to sound much more erudite than I did. :(
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Tarmac and macadam are both shortened forms of "tarmacadam". And s Myridon stated, in the USA we pretty much limit "tarmac" to airport runways (probably as a result of watching too many John Wayne-Seabees movies).

    I know what "macadam" is, but I rarely hear it, and I even more rarely use it.
    I agree completely. And I'm perfectly fine with calling a road "a strip of asphalt," but I find it extremely strange to call it "a strip of tarmac" (unless the road is a converted ex-airport runway :)).
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I agree completely. And I'm perfectly fine with calling a road "a strip of asphalt," but I find it extremely strange to call it "a strip of tarmac" (unless the road is a converted ex-airport runway :)).
    The reference to the movie "The Fighting Seabees" was because the movie was about building and repairing airstrips in the south Pacific. The image below was not from the movie; it was an actual Seabees Battalion image. The signs call them "strips".

     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
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