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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Road surface (British English) or pavement (American English) is the durable surface material laid down on an area intended to sustain traffic (vehicular or foot traffic). Such surfaces are frequently marked to guide traffic. The most common modern paving methods are asphalt and concrete. In the past, brick was extensively used, as was metalling. Today, permeable paving methods are beginning to be used more for low-impact roadways and walkways.



Metalling has had two distinct usages in road paving. The term originally referred to the process of creating a carefully engineered gravel roadway. The route of the roadway would first be dug down several feet and, depending on local conditions, French drains may or may not have been added. Next, large stones were placed and compacted, followed by successive layers of smaller stones, until the road surface was composed of small stones compacted into a hard, durable surface. Road metal later became the name of stone chippings mixed with tar to form the road surfacing material tarmac. A road of such material is called a "metalled road" in British usage, or less often a macadam road. The word metal is derived from the Latin metallum, which means both "mine" and "quarry", hence the roadbuilding terminology.

Asphalt paving

A road in the process of being resurfaced.

Asphalt (specifically, asphalt concrete) has been widely used since 1920-1930, though in ancient times asphalt was already used for road-building. The viscous nature of the bitumen binder allows asphalt concrete to sustain significant plastic deformation, although fatigue from repeated loading over time is the most common failure mechanism. Most asphalt pavements are built on a gravel base which is generally at least as thick as the asphalt layer, although some 'full depth' pavements are built directly on the native subgrade. In areas with very soft or expansive subgrades such as clay or peat, thick gravel bases or stabilization of the subgrade with Portland cement or lime can be required. In some countries with soft soils, a foundation of polystyrene blocks is used instead. The actual material used in paving is termed HMA (Hot Mix Asphalt), and it is usually applied using a free floating screed.

Closeup of asphalt on a driveway.

An asphalt concrete pavement will generally be constructed for high volume primary highways having an Average Annual Daily Traffic load higher than 1200 vehicles per day.[1] Advantages of asphalt roadways include relatively low noise, relatively low cost compared with other paving methods, and perceived ease of repair. Disadvantages include less durability than other paving methods, less tensile strength than concrete, the tendency to become slick and soft in hot weather and a certain amount of hydrocarbon pollution to soil and groundwater or waterways.

In the 1960s, rubberized asphalt was used for the first time, mixing crumb rubber from used tires with asphalt. In addition to using tires that would otherwise fill landfills and present a fire hazard, rubberized asphalt is more durable and provides a 7-12 decibel noise reduction over conventional asphalt. However, application of rubberized asphalt is more temperature-sensitive, and in many locations can only be applied at certain times of the year.

Concrete paving

Concrete pavements (specifically, Portland cement concrete) are created using a concrete mix of Portland cement, gravel, and sand. The material is applied in a freshly-mixed slurry, and worked mechanically to compact the interior and force some of the thinner cement slurry to the surface to produce a smoother, denser surface free from honeycombing.

Concrete pavements have been refined into three common types: jointed plain (JPCP), jointed reinforced (JRCP) and continuously reinforced (CRCP). The one item that distinguishes each type is the jointing system used to control crack development.

Jointed Plain Concrete Pavements (JPCP) contain enough joints to control the location of all the expected natural cracks. The concrete cracks at the joints and not elsewhere in the slabs. Jointed plain pavements do not contain any steel reinforcement. However, there may be smooth steel bars at transverse joints and deformed steel bars at longitudinal joints. The spacing between transverse joints is typically about 15 feet for slabs 7-12 inches thick. Today, a majority of the U.S. state agencies build jointed plain pavements.

Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavements (JRCP) contain steel mesh reinforcement (sometimes called distributed steel). In jointed reinforced concrete pavements, designers increase the joint spacing purposely, and include reinforcing steel to hold together intermediate cracks in each slab. The spacing between transverse joints is typically 30 feet or more. In the past, some agencies used a spacing as great as 100 feet. During construction of the interstate system, most agencies in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. built jointed-reinforced pavement. Today only a handful of agencies employ this design, and its use is generally not recommended as JPCP and CRCP offer better performance and are easier to repair.

Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavements (CRCP) do not require any transverse contraction joints. Transverse cracks are expected in the slab, usually at intervals of 3-5 ft. CRCP pavements are designed with enough steel, 0.6-0.7% by cross-sectional area, so that cracks are held together tightly. Determining an appropriate spacing between the cracks is part of the design process for this type of pavement.

Continuously reinforced designs generally cost more than jointed reinforced or jointed plain designs initially due to increased quantities of steel. However, they can demonstrate superior long-term performance and cost-effectiveness. A number of agencies choose to use CRCP designs in their heavy urban traffic corridors.

One advantage of cement concrete roadways is that they are typically stronger and more durable than asphalt roadways. They also can easily be grooved to provide a durable skid-resistant surface. Disadvantages are that they typically have a higher initial cost and are perceived to be more difficult to repair.

The first street in the United States to be paved with concrete was Court Avenue in Bellefontaine, Ohio, but the record for first mile of concrete pavement to be laid in the United States is claimed by Michigan.

Composite pavements

Composite pavements combine Portland cement concrete and asphalt pavement. They are usually used to rehabilitate existing roadways rather than in new construction.

Asphalt overlays are placed over distressed concrete pavement to restore a smooth wearing surface. A disadvantage is the joints between the underlying concrete slabs usually cause cracks, called reflective cracks in the asphalt.

Whitetopping uses Portland cement concrete to resurface a distressed blacktop road.

Bituminous Surface Treatment (BST)

Concrete pavers

Bituminous Surface Treatment (BST) is used mainly on low-traffic roads, but also as a sealing coat to rejuvenate an asphalt concrete pavement. It generally consists of aggregate spread over a sprayed-on asphalt emulsion or cut-back asphalt cement. The aggregate is then embedded into the asphalt by rolling it, typically with a rubber-tired roller. BSTs of this type are described by a wide variety of regional terms including "chip seal", "tar and chip", "oil and stone", "seal coat" or "surface dressing".[2]

BST is used on hundreds of miles of the Alaska Highway and other similar roadways in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and northern British Columbia. The ease of application of BST is one reason for its popularity, but another is its flexibility, which is important when roadways are laid down over unstable terrain that thaws and softens in the spring.

Other types of BSTs include micropaving, slurry seals and Novachip. These are laid down using specialized and proprietary equipment. They are most often used in urban areas where the roughness and loose stone associated with chip seals is considered undesirable.


Thin membrane surface

A thin membrane surface (TMS) is an oil treated aggregate which is laid down upon a gravel road bed producing a dust free road.[3] A TMS road reduces mud problems and provides stone free roads for local residents where loaded truck traffic is negligible. The TMS layer adds no significant structural strength, and so is used on secondary highways with low traffic volume and minimal weight loading. Construction involves minimal subgrade preparation, following by covering with a 50 to 100 millimetres (2.0–3.9 in) cold mix asphalt aggregate.[1] The Operation Division of the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure in Saskatchewan has the responsibility of maintaining 6,102 kilometers (3,792 mi) of thin membrane surface (TMS) highways.[4]

Granular pavements

A granular pavement can be used with a traffic volume where the average annual daily traffic is 1,200 vehicles per day or less. There is some structural strength as the road surface combines a sub base, base and is topped with a double graded seal aggregate with emulsion.[1][5] Besides the 4,929 kilometers (3,063 mi) of granular pavements maintained in Saskatchewan, over 90% of New Zealand roads are unbound granular pavement structures.[4][6]

Otta seal

Otta seal is a low-cost road surface using a 16-30 mm-thick mixture of bitumen and crushed rock[7].

Other paving methods

A brick main street in Lebanon, Illinois

Pavers (or paviours), generally in the form of pre-cast concrete blocks, are often used for aesthetic purposes, or sometimes at port facilities that see long-duration pavement loading. Pavers are rarely used in areas that see high-speed vehicle traffic.

Brick, cobblestone, sett, and wood plank pavements were once common in urban areas throughout the world, but fell out of fashion in most countries, due to the high cost of labor required to lay and maintain them, and are typically only kept for historical or aesthetic reasons. In some countries, however, they are still common in local streets. Likewise, macadam and tarmac pavements can still sometimes be found buried underneath asphalt concrete or Portland cement concrete pavements, but are rarely constructed today.

Acoustical implications

Roadway surfacing choices are known to affect the intensity and spectrum of sound emanating from the tire/surface interaction.[8] Initial applications of this knowledge occurred in the early 1970s. Roadway surface types contribute differential noise effects of up to four dB, with chip seal type and grooved roads being the loudest and concrete surfaces without spacers being the quietest. Asphaltic surfaces perform intermediately relative to concrete and chip seal. These phenomena are, of course, highly influenced by vehicle speed. Rubberized asphalt has been shown to give a very significant 7-12 decibel reduction in road noise when compared to conventional asphalt applications.

Pavement deterioration

Deteriorating asphalt.

As pavement systems primarily fail due to fatigue (in a manner similar to metals), the damage done to pavement increases with the fourth power of the axle load of the vehicles traveling on it. Civil Engineers consider truck axle load, current and projected truck traffic volume, supporting soil properties (can be measured using the CBR) and sub-grade drainage in design. Passenger cars are considered to have no practical effect on a pavement's service life, from a fatigue perspective.

Other pavement failure modes include ageing and surface abrasion. As years go by, the binder in a bituminous wearing course gets stiffer and less flexible. When it gets "old" enough, the surface will start losing aggregates, and macrotexture depth increases dramatically. If no maintenance action is done quickly on the wearing course (seal coating, surface dressing, etc.), potholing will take place. In areas with cold climate, studded tires may be allowed on passenger cars. In Sweden and Finland, studded passenger car tires account for a very large share of pavement rutting.

Several pavement design methods have been developed to determine the thickness and composition of pavement required to carry predicted traffic loads for a given period of time. Pavement design methods are continuously evolving. Among these are the Shell Pavement design method, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) 1993 "Guide for Design of Pavement Structures". A new mechanistic-empirical design guide has been under development by NCHRP (Called Superpave Technology) since 1998. A new design guide called Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) was developed and is about to be adopted by AASHTO.

According to the AASHO Road Test, heavily loaded trucks can do more than 10,000 times the damage done by a normal passenger car. Tax rates for trucks are higher than those for cars in most countries for this reason, though they are not levied in proportion to the damage done.[9]

The physical properties of a stretch of pavement can be tested using a falling weight deflectometer.

Further research by University College London into pavements has led to the development of an indoor, 80-sq-metre artificial pavement at a research centre called Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA). It is used to simulate everyday scenarios, from different pavement users to varying pavement conditions.[10]

Line notes

  1. ^ a b c Gerbrandt, Ron (2000). "Guidelines must be followed strictly - No exceptions". Effect of Cold-in-place recycling on the Heavyweight Trucking Industry. 6th International Conference on Heavy Vehicle Weights and Dimension Proceedings. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  2. ^ Gransberg, Douglas D. (2005) (Digitised online by Google books). Chip Seal Best Practices. National Cooperative Highway. Transportation Research Board. pp. 13–20. ISBN 0309097444, 9780309097444.,M1. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  3. ^ Lazic, Zvjezdan (2004). "Feasibility of Alternative salt storage structures in Saskatchewan Neilburg case study" (pdf). Measuring performance indicators for decision-making in winter mainenance operations. 2004 Annual conference of the Transportation Association of Canada. Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  4. ^ a b "Highways and Infrastructure — Government of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2008-04-15.  
  5. ^ "Surfacing Aggregate". Product brochure. South Africa. 20008.$File/Surfacing%20aggregate%20lr.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  6. ^ Oeser, Markus (2008). "Experimental and numerical simulation of loading impact on modified granular pavements". 8th World Congress on Computaitonal Mechanics 5th European Congress on computational methods in aplied sciences and engerineering ECCOMAS. 6th International Conference on Heavy Vehicle Weights and Dimension Proceedings. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  7. ^ New dust supression method on, retrieved 28 february 2009
  8. ^ C.M. Hogan, "Analysis of highway noise", Journal of Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, Volume 2, Number 3, Biomedical and Life Sciences and Earth and Environmental Science Issue, Pages 387-392, September, 1973, Springer Verlag, Netherlands ISSN 0049-6979
  9. ^ Statement Of Garth Dull For The Senate Epw Committee
  10. ^ BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Scientists walk on tech pavement



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