Essentials of Asphalt Road Maintenance
Asphalt road maintenance is the most important and essential task road managers and pavement engineers face every day. But maintenance has a slightly different meaning to each manager and agency. It can mean pothole repair, resurfacing, sealing and/or proactive preservation.
Whatever the topic of asphalt road maintenance suggests to you, there are a few essentials we can all agree on that are fairly simple, but not necessarily easy. Let’s break it down:
No matter how good we are at our tasks, it takes a certain amount of funding to get asphalt road maintenance done. And in times of economic uncertainty, decisions on how to allocate limited funding are always a challenge. This naturally leads to the next concern.
To get a fairly accurate idea of what funding is needed, we need to know our pavement conditions. This can be accomplished by in-house folks or by hiring an outside company to rate your roads and report on their conditions. One advantage of hiring an outside consulting firm is third-party objectivity. This gives managers a good bit more leverage when selling the need for funding to their superiors.
There are numerous companies that do this type of work, and they offer different programs to meet a variety of budgets and circumstances. Keeping it simple will make a plan meaningful to elected officials and to the tax paying community you are serving.
One major advantage of funding good roads is that asphalt road maintenance is very visible and a value that benefits all users of our transportation networks immediately.
Prioritizing Treatments and Repairs
This is where road maintenance managers truly earn their salaries. Selecting which roads get what treatments often appears to be an overwhelming task. But there are good methods for making headway when you develop an overall asphalt road maintenance program that addresses all of the different priorities.
After your road conditions have been properly rated, it is logical to put your funding toward the worst roads first. However, this may not be the best approach. The reason is that some roads are so bad that nothing short of major rehab or reconstruction will do the fix. So, we are barely making a dent in the overall condition, because just a few roads eat all the funding.
The Right Treatment at the Right Time
A good asset management plan will not only give you road conditions but will also recommend the best treatments for each condition, that is, a variety of “fixes” to address emergency repairs, resurfacing and preservation.
As illustrated in the example below, a lot less effort, money, and hassles are required to preserve and maintain roads than to completely rehab them. A small investment as a percentage of your asphalt road maintenance funding will cover lots more pavement and yield better conditions over time. The same money goes farther, creating better road conditions for your constituents. It’s not unlike investing in a portfolio: you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket such as emergency repairs. By investing a small portion of your funding in extending roadway life, you will over time reduce the need for emergency repairs.
Treating new roads with asphalt preservation treatments is essential because asphalt begins to deteriorate the day it is laid. This happens slowly at first, and then rapidly as the asphalt becomes brittle – resulting in raveling, cracking, and a rough driving surface. The root cause is the gradual depletion of the maltene asphalt components that glue asphalt together. This is an oxidation process that starts during high-temperature asphalt manufacturing and is hastened by continuous exposure to weather.
The long-term asphalt road maintenance solution is right time treatments. Asphalt problems begin before you see their effects. Surface preservation with maltene-enriched asphalt-based rejuvenator is a good first step in your asphalt road maintenance system. By replenishing the maltene fractions that keep asphalt resilient and sealing the pavement surface from the intrusion of moisture, those roads will maintain good driving conditions longer – and in the long run, that will save you money.
Maltene replacement treatment preserves ten miles of pavement for less than the cost of paving a single mile – which means a small percentage of your asphalt road maintenance budget will gain you a lot of pavement life.
- Maintain smooth pavement longer for improved driving conditions
- Avoid costly end-of-life emergency repairs
- Extend pavement life from four to five years
This process has 60 years of use history on roads like yours and is an affordable, effective and essential method of asphalt road maintenance, used by public works agencies across the U.S. and around the world.