Roads, Functional Lifespan and Repair

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Published: 24th January 2011
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Roads are the only means of transportation on land. They are paved in different sizes according to the number of vehicles they accommodate. Some roads supporting over a million vehicles a day require a wider cross section and quality mixture of concrete materials to provide enough running space and durable resistance to continuous friction.

Roads can be made of asphalt or concrete. Asphalt roads are smoother and more flexible to friction than concrete roads, which have very low elasticity. But the functional lifespan of concrete roads is twice longer than asphalt roads. Since they are naturally grayish to white in color, concrete roads are safer for travelers at night.

Geodetic engineers are the ones making sure roads are correctly paved with perfect alignment, strength, durability and precautions set on curves and angles. The strength and durability of roads are measured on the thickness of its grade and the kind of materials used. Class A concrete is the most common mixture used in paving roads to ensure its strength, and creating sublevels on its cross-section profile makes it last long despite abrasion.

No matter how long roads can last, roads have definite functional life span. Most concrete roads are expected to last for 10 to 15 years. Those in big cities are designed to last for even more than 20 years. After this time, abrasion will finally diminish the concrete covering, surfacing the boulders and even the steel reinforcement and dowels. Such a state poses lots of vehicular accidents, thus the road must undergo immediate concrete repair restoration.

Concrete repair and restoration is done in various ways depending on the damage caused by the abrasion. Slab stabilization is applied when voids have already formed beneath the surface of the road, right between the concrete and the steel bars. This is done to avoid cracking, which will require more complex restoration methods. On the other hand, a dowel bar retrofit is done to reestablish connection between road slabs with significant cracks.

Although many old roads can still be restored by these methods, some need to be demolished and replaced with new roads for safety measures. A new technique used by engineers today that will extend the functional lifespan of the road at the same time improve its abrasion yield is called asphalt overlay. Overlaying asphalt on a concrete pavement will extend its lifespan by 50% and lessen concrete repair restoration expenses.

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