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Thread: Need life cycle cost comparison for road surfaces

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Need life cycle cost comparison for road surfaces

    I am working with our council, and want to compare the life cycle costs of different types of road surfaces. Many of our roads are seal coat and I know switching to concrete or asphalt over the long run would be more cost effective. Does anyone here any good comparisons of this or any good links? Also, if there is a newer surface we should consider, I would be interested as well.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    In engineering school we are taught to design asphalt/concrete roads to last 20 years. However, to get 20 years out of a road, preventive maintenance must be done. Seal coating is just a part of preventive maintenance @ about 10 years out, expect 5 years out of seal-coating. Crack sealing should take place at 3-5 years of a new pavement. If enough preventive work is done properly, pavements are supposed to last perpetually - in theory. Costs (and preventive maintenace periods) vary by the region, as temps, heavy traffic volume and freeze/thaw affect the life cycle of each type of pavement. Check with your state DOT for this info, they should have it readily available.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    concrete ALWAYS lasts longer. We specify concrete on heavy truck routes.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Here is place you start...

    http://www.highwaysmaintenance.com/design.htm


    There are good references to TRB publications in this link, and by researching it you may understand what you are being asked to recommend.

    I do not believe your choice is just between asphalt or concrete. Different types of asphalt mixes are used for different areas for different reasons. Is the goal to last as long as possible? Prevent weather cracking? What type of base is available in your area? The degradation of the base material can trash the road surface.

    I like Superpave, an asphalt mix that incorporates tiny bits of granite I believe. We use a lot in Florida.

    And like Ssnyderjr said, your DOT should have area pricing, plus material cost, plus testing info for surfaces it has laid test sections for (it really is about your specific area).

    Hope this gives you a place to start...next ask about how to calculate ESALs...that way we can figure out how THICK your pavement needs to be to last 20 years.
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    query buzzwords like

    Pavement Management System

    I second contacting your State DOT. Look for sections known as 'engineering services', 'local agency assistance', or 'bidding and obligation'.

    Concrete does not always last longer. Under a lot of conditions (extreme temps, traffic load, design of road), concrete can break-up faster and cost more to maintain. Every road is different.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Aliquippa Pa
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    Many of our roads are seal coat and I know switching to concrete or asphalt over the long run would be more cost effective.
    Seal coating is just a part of preventive maintenance @ about 10 years out,
    From the context, I question whether Hawkeye66 and ssnyderjr are using the same defintion of "seal coated". Hawkeye66, might you be instead referring to what might otherwise be called "tar and chip" (as distinguished from actual Hot Mix Asphalt)?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Here are a couple of pictures that illustrate our main streets problem. Most residential streets are seal coat with ill defined borders. Storm water drainage is poor in several areas thus leading to break up. What I know intrinsically is that curb and gutter with good drainage and defined street and yard/parking areas is more cost effective, but I want to demonstrate and quantify it. We have many residents who park right off the street and even gravel a little section for parking thus making the storm water problem worse.

    Yes Digger...Let me clarify that. I mean Chip-Seal Road. People use different names for it. It's a step below asphalt. I have heard of people using recycled asphalt and was looking into that as well.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Park 3rd to 2nd.jpg   Park 3rd to 2nd II.jpg  

    4th Street W of Center.jpg  

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    From the 3 photos, drainage aside, the roadway base looks to be in good condition. If you are looking to install curb and gutter you will likely have to reconstruct which means complete removal of existing road in order to lower the road profile - you do not want to trap water on adjacent properties.

    Concrete is more expensive (although the trend may be shifting due to petroleum prices) up front but it has a much longer life span. If concrete breaks up, it is due to poor construction.

    I typically deal with high traffic volumes. I am rehabilitating a 1.5 mile stretch of road through our CBD. The existing roadway is flexible base (asphalt). We have extreme failure at the intersections so we decided to replace the intersections with rigid base (concrete). Part of the problem has to do with leaky steam lines that warp the asphalt pavement so we decided to invest and protect ourselves b/c the concrete will not warp if we have leaks again.. I could go on and on as an ex-highway engineer.

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