Save Dollars with Pavement Preservation

Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 by
In Transportation Engineering, tagged in

Maintaining pavement impacts not only safety, but also a city’s bottom line. To increase performance and ensure roads reach their full service life, it’s important to prevent micro-cracking with surface treatments. Untreated, these small cracks can spread, resulting in an expensive and disruptive, full tear out. We sat down with two of our pavement experts, Kristen Leathers, PE, Assoc. DBIA and Ryan Stobaugh, PE, to discuss how to preserve road quality.

How can cities maintain pavement?
Ryan: Using a granite, chip, or slurry seal prior to seeing minor damage is a first step. The best advice is to start before you see damage. Once cracks appear, it’s too late. We recommend sealing about a half to two-thirds of the way through the road’s service life.

Kristen: Having an allocated budget dedicated to the program is a key component. There are a variety of treatments you can use to prevent deterioration. Ultimately, our advice is to focus on prevention, not rehab.

Which aspects are commonly overlooked?
Ryan: Sometimes, cities tackle more pressing, older roads and then, wait too long to treat newer ones. In many cases, it can be hard to justify the cost of treatment.

Kristen: Identifying the capabilities that are available in-house, as well as what should be outsourced. This can help on costs if there are items that can be done internally. It also assists in planning resources when you’re ready to do the project.

Are there any easy steps that can be taken without much investment?
Ryan: Instead of patching street repairs, cities can use a chip or slurry seal to cover more areas.

Kristen: Implementing a regimen or rating system to help organize the program is one step. It can be as simple as pulling together a spreadsheet, but it allows cities to anticipate their needs and develop a timeline, so they know what and when.

What are the benefits and challenges with each solution?
Ryan: Chip seal is made of limestone, so it can create a lot of dust. Residents don’t often like it. However, granite seal goes down black and has a sheen to it. We’ve had no complaints when using it.

Kristen: The public’s perception of different seals can be a challenge. Granite seal sounds better than chip seal. It also has less dust. However, the life cycle of a treatment should be a consideration too. Slurry looks great, but after two to three years, it has deterioration again. Go beyond the first impression. Look for longevity and performance.

Ryan: I completely agree. Granite and chip seal offer a better bang for your buck. These will actually help slow down deterioration. Whereas, slurry is good for an initial, preventative treatment.

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