Road construction is a serious business as roads are important links connecting towns and cities. An improperly designed and built road is a recipe for disaster as it develops premature cracks and breaks and causes fatal accidents. Construction materials are chosen depending on how heavy and fast traffic is. Take a look.
Asphalt is a trusted road construction material. It’s recommended for heavy and fast traffic where surfaces need to endure heavy loads over a lengthened period. The material itself is a mixture of binders, fillers and aggregates with the last consisting of sand, gravel, slag or rock.
Also called bitumen, asphalt makes up the largest percentage of road construction materials. It can also be mixed with a small amount of cement to build asphalt concrete pavements.
Asphalt has received a bad rap for emitting poisonous fumes which directly affect construction workers. However, there are safety standards put in place to reduce negative effects on health.
In spite of these misgivings, the material continues to be widely used because it offers up numerous benefits. It provides significant noise reduction and is in fact, the most silent of traditional road surfaces. With new technology, there’s also rapid water dispersal so drivers can see better in wet conditions. If the material is the porous variety, water drainage is facilitated which is important to prevent vehicles from skidding.
The most beneficial quality of asphalt is its recyclability which is 100 percent. This reduces the need for virgin gravel, saving money, fuel and time to transport new materials.
Concrete is known to last very long – up to 40 years in some cases – and doesn’t require much maintenance. It also helps vehicles consume less fuel as it doesn’t deflect under heavy weights. Extreme weather does little to damage it and it doesn’t suffer much from leaking vehicle oils. But perhaps the biggest advantage is its eco-friendlier nature as it doesn’t have to be melted before being laid.
Where it does fall short is in repair problems as unlike asphalt, when a portion of concrete road cracks or breaks, the entire slab needs to be replaced. This triggers inconvenience for motorists and is expensive.
Another failing point is safety as concrete roads can get very slippery when wet.
Brick is not a good choice for motor able roads though it can be used. Unlike bitumen and concrete, the noise generated is more even when sitting inside a vehicle. It also deflects under heavy weight which means more repair and more expenses.
Brick is an ideal choice for low traffic driveways, however, and its popularity can still be seen around historic buildings. Together with cobblestones, it has the ability to give an instant boost to aesthetics.
Like brick and cobblestone, gravel surfaces can’t endure heavy traffic. Still, some regions make use of it more than concrete and leave bitumen for city street and highway construction. The cost of laying a gravel surface is cheaper than bitumen or concrete one so community may opt for gravel on low traffic roads.
However, despite the cheaper construction cost, gravel surfaces are more expensive to maintain. This applies to gravel roads that see more than 200 vehicles plying them every day. Further, noise reduction is not significant but that seems to have little issue for communities in favor of them.