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Highway (Road) Maintenance, Repair, and Rehabilitation

Highway (road) maintenance is defined as preserving and keeping the serviceable conditions highway as normal as possible and practicable. The main objectives of road maintenance men are the allocation of available maintenance resources according to actual needs and priorities. If the maintenance works are not done at all or done faulty or the pavement structure inadequate for present-day and loading.

A highway (Road) surface level is deteriorating in its level of serviceability due to many causes, some of them are given below:  

  1. Traffic factors:-  The traffic operating on the facility can cause different types of distress like rutting, corrugations, raveling, etc. The amount of deterioration depends upon the intensity of traffic, wheel load, and its repetitions.
  2.  Environmental factors:-  The external influence of environmental factors like rainfall, temperature variations, snowfall, landslides, etc. also deteriorate the road pavement. Rainfall causes erosion of shoulders while snowfall cause ingress of water into the pavement structure. Similarly, temperature variation causes adversely affect the performance of the bituminous surface and cement concrete pavements.

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 Improper maintenance also invites for a huge investment of funds and uncomfortably of highway location, design, and quality of construction. e poor designed roads the cost of maintenance may be higher than the initial cost.” Road maintenance is a series of interdependent activities carried out for preserving and keeping road, roadside, highway furniture, structures and other facilities in the best possible condition provide satisfactory and safe transportation along the highway with the optimum cost”

Need for Maintenance or Road (Highway)

To preserve the road asset and to deliver the designated level of service to the road

(i) Dollar one investment in maintenance saves Dollar 3 to 6 required later for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Purpose of Maintenance of Road

  • Reducing deterioration
  • Lowering vehicle operating costs
  • Keeping the road open
  • Safety
  • Environmental issues

Depending upon the various types of failure and remedial maintenance operations highway maintenance can be classified as:

1. Routine maintenance:-

Maintenance operations of localized nature required continually on any road whatever it’s engineering characteristics. The works are generally carried out by forced labour or petti contractor. It covers the following activities:

1. Sweeping of roads

2.  Maintenance of shoulder 

3. Cutting of grasses

4 Cleaning of culverts

& Clearing of bridges

& Cleaning of minor slides

7. Cleaning of road furniture

8. Cleaning of side drains

9. Minor reshaping of drains

2. Recurrent maintenance:-

Maintenance operations of localized nature of limited extent carried out at more or less regular intervals of six months to years with a frequency that depends on traffic volume. This type of works are generally carried out by contract by using minor equipment . It covers the activities like pot hole patching, edge repair, holes and ruts, repair of depression, local reconstruction, crack sealing, maintenance of drains, repair of road furniture etc.

3. Periodic maintenance:-

 Maintenance operations of large extent required at intervals of several years(generally at interval of 6 years in case of black top and 4 year in case of gravel road depending upon the volume traffic). covers the renewal of wearing surface, repairing the damaged portions of side drains, repairing earth retaining wall, repairing parapet walls & railings at bridges and culverts, resealing, resurfacing etc.

4. Specific maintenance:-

When the maintenance required at certain location of road then it is called specific maintenance. The judgement of this mintenance is done by the supervisor.

5. Preventive maintenance:-

This types of maintenance is required to adapt the road to the changing nature of the slopes and streams, i.e. to the geophysical environment

(i) Slope stabilization works

(ii) Catch/intercepting drains

(iii) Subsurface/french drains

(iv) Horizontal drilling for taking water out

(v) Toe protection

(vi) Checkdams, catchpits and Drainage cascades etc

If a pavement is constructed and no maintenance is done, the pavement may not last as long as it should. Preventive maintenance is a strategy to extend the serviceable life of a pavement by applying cost-effective treatments that will slow down pavement deterioration and prevent new distress from forming. Preventive maintenance is also intended to improve the condition of the pavement by sealing cracks or covering existing distresses such as ravelin or oxidation.

6. Emergency maintenance:-

Maintenance operations of highways generally done after 10 years or any unfavorable conditions are known as emergency maintenance. Thus emergency maintenance is divided into two categories:

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  • Reinstatement of road after critical period is over by reconstruction of the pavement, the structure and the drainage as the case may be. It is also known as rehabilitation.
  • Urgent emergency maintenance works needed for reopening the road construction of temporary diversion to allow the traffic to pass around the obstruction such as slides, wad wash-out etc.

Routine and recurrent maintenance is needed for any type of road whether it is designed and constructed with specific bias or not. Since the highways are exposed to moving traffic and adverse climate conditions, these would be worn out.

  • Even if the highways are not used, they also would need maintenance for their up keep, as the factors that cause damage to pavements are more than one. Traffic is one of the many factors.
  • The longitudinal and cross drains would need attention under the routine maintenance work. One of the common items of maintenance work is the removal of silt, rubbish and weeds from the longitudinal and cross drains.
  •  Special repairs and strengthening of pavement with overlays are needed to pavement failures.
  • Special repairs of sub-surface drainage system and cross-drainage structures may be needed in some cases: Improvements of highway geometric may also be included under special repairs.

Difference Between Maintenance and Rehabilitation of Road

 The distinction between maintenance and rehabilitation is not so easy to define. The works performed to upkeep a pavement in its as-constructed condition are considered maintenance whereas measures improving the structural strength of the pavement are considered as rehabilitation.

What are the basic objectives of highway (Road) maintenance?

The term highway engineering is defined as the preserving and keeping of each roadway, structure, and facility as nearly as possible in its original condition as constructed or as subsequently improved and such additional work as is necessary to keep safe movements of traffic.

The highway maintenance is a challenge to the engineering competence. The street and highway network is a dynamic system subject to environmental and operational influence. In fact, the efficient highway maintenance is an extremely challenging management problem.

The job of a highway engineer is not only to design and construct the roads but to provide a comfortable, economic and safe surface for modern high-speed vehicles. The concerned highway agency must maintain and repair highways in such a way that they are free of danger for all who use them.

The highway maintenance consists of correcting deficiencies in the highway which have developed as the result of age, wear, weather and damage and taking steps to prevent or delay the development of other deficiencies. In this way, there are two types of maintenance, namely, preventive and breakdown. In preventive maintenance, an attempt is made to anticipate potential failure and to do something to prevent or delay the failure. In breakdown maintenance, the failure has already occurred and steps or measures must be taken to determine and correct the cause as well as to repair the damage that has taken place.

Highway maintenance is affected by budget restrictions, political influences, and numerous environmental and other variables. All these factors must be suitably accommodated in the highway system. As new needs are emerging, the maintenance procedures are also kept changing. For instance, precast pavement sections have been developed to provide a prompt replacement of localized sections of deteriorated pavement with minimum interference with the flow of traffic.

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Pot-Hole Repair (Patch repair)

Patch repairs may be needed for the damaged portion of the road and potholes or for removing inequalities in shape and surface and removing waviness in order to smooth a rough or uneven riding surface. A pothole is usually due to localized poor gradation of surface materials provided there is no foundation trouble. Corrugations on the road surface are often created by incorrect gradation of aggregates.

pot hole formation the road surface
Fig.2. pot hole formation the road surface

The amount of patching needed to make up pot holes and localized failures may vary from 0 to 25 percent of the surface area annually. Patching increases the surface life of the pavement up to when there will more economical and desirable to renew the surface entirely.

Patching can be done by following methods:

  • sand premix
  •  open-graded premix
  •  dense-graded premix
  • penetration patching or
  • surface dressing.

Patching consists of the following sequence of operations:

  • Cleaning the area by brooming.
  •  Trimming the sides vertically and the shape to a rectangular or square and making the bottom level.
  • Holes should be cleaned of all loose aggregate, dust, foreign matter, and water before the patch is applied.
  • Painting the sides and bottom of the hole with a tack coat if a premix material is used following the regular specifications of the treatment.
  • Patching material should be compacted with roller and reveling will not take place If the depth of the hole is more than 75 cm, generally the patch is done in two or more layers with proper tapping and rolling of each layer.
  • Pot-hole should be maintained in such a way that filled materials project 10 mm above the existing level.

Inspection, Prioritization, and Planning of Maintenance Operations or Road

After the construction of roads, our main aim is to get reliable service at the minimum possible cost for the whole life. This is achieved by inspection of roads, planning, and prioritizing the defects for their maintenance.

During the inspection, we can find a lot of defects, and we have to repair that. The maintenance of these defects is done at different times according to our fund. So these defects are arranged according to priorities.

Advantages of Site inspection

  • To familiar with road conditions in the area and recognize trouble spots and other places where difficulties are likely to occur.
  • Gives first-hand knowledge of the extent and quality of the maintenance that has actually been carried out.
  • Helps to assess maintenance priorities more confidently.
  • The morale of the road gangs and their standards of work is tremendously boosted.

Prioritization is a part of planning in which we fix the sequence of work to be done. More important and urgent works should be done before less important works.

The maintenance of roads should be done according to the priorities list without political or personal interference. But sometimes by the interference of political leaders listed priorities are not followed and these create practical problems and finally aspected service of roads are affected.

The various factors to be included in the planning of maintenance system are:

  • Minimum  serviceable standards for the maintenance of different categories of roads to acceptable limit,
  • Field survey to evaluate and justify the need for maintenance.
  • Study of Various factors that influencing the maintenance works like sub-grade, soil, drainage, climate, traffic etc.
  •  Estimation of rate of deterioration of the pavement in the existing set of condition.
  • Available of financial resources, materials, man power and equipment.
  • Need based allocation for optimum utilization of inputs and fixing maintenance priorities.

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