Phoenix unveils 'cool pavement' to combat scorching temps during near-record heat wave

City officials in Phoenix, Arizona, are trying to bring down the temperature in the metro by changing the look of the city’s streets. They are applying a light-colored coating to existing pavement that reflects the sunlight and absorbs less heat.

PHOENIX – Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the U.S., and right now, a heat wave is broiling those who live in the Valley of the Sun.

Saturday will mark the 16th consecutive day at 110 degrees or higher this summer in the Arizona city. So far, the average high in July is 113 degrees, with an overall average temperature of 100.6 degrees.

Phoenix city officials are now trying to bring down the temperature by changing the look of the city’s streets. 

The city's Cool Pavement Program is like sunscreen for the road, one engineer told FOX Weather. Essentially, the city is applying a light-colored coating to existing pavement that reflects sunlight and absorbs less heat. It results in a surface that’s cooler than traditional asphalt.


How much cooler is it?

At noon, when the sun is at its most intense, the cool pavement averages 10.5-12 degrees lower in surface temperature than traditional asphalt, according to officials. On average, the cool pavement is 4.8 degrees cooler.

City officials said they also hope that this can help alleviate the city’s so-called "heat island" effect, where heat absorbed by hard surfaces during the day is released at night, resulting in high nighttime temperatures.

Nighttime air temperatures at 6 feet above the ground are, on average, half a degree lower over cool pavement than on non-treated asphalt.

City officials see cool pavement implementation as an important project in keeping the city livable as temperatures trend hotter.

"I'm a native of Phoenix, so I want to make my community a better place to live," city engineering manager Ryan Stevens said. "And so it's important to me to try to innovate and see how we can, again, make Phoenix cooler than it is even today and combat that heat so that we still have a Phoenix in 50 or 100 years from now."


Stevens said residents have mixed opinions of the cool pavement getting rolled out in their neighborhood.

"It's certainly a different color, so it has a certain aesthetic that some find pleasing, and others don't," he said. "But every time we are out talking about cool pavement, I get comments of, 'When is my neighborhood next? How do I get my neighborhood on the list?' So a lot of people are interested."

So far, the city of Phoenix has coated about 100 miles of roadway with cool pavement and aims to reach 118 miles by the end of this year.