In every nation, roads maintenance is critical because roads are a key national asset. They provide the basic foundation for economic activities and development and as well ensure day-to-day activities run smoothly and safely. Road infrastructures have a great impact on the economic developmental growth of every society because they create enabling environment for socio-economic development that provides access to employment, social welfare, health care delivery, or education services.
As a result of this, keeping roads in safe conditions and operational is of the utmost importance. This is why road maintenance is eminently important.
What is Road Maintenance?
Road maintenance is a process of preserving and keeping the existing roadways, roadsides, and other road structures in good working condition to allow the proper flow of traffic and safe transportation of goods and services. Road maintenance plays an important role in preserving the life span of roads. Adequately maintained road structures will prevent the wear and tear of vehicles tires and as well reduces the petrol consumption of vehicles.
Advantages of Road Maintenance
Roads are considered the major parts of infrastructural development for better movement of goods and services from one place to another. Thus, it is important to keep road infrastructure in shape at all times for the safety of lives and ease of movement.
Road maintenance can have an immediate and lasting impact on the lifestyle of a society. Beyond the instant benefits of accessing social amenities such as schools, hospitals & health facilities, worship centers, sports centers, and markets for trade and commerce to create jobs and wealth for the benefit of all.
Adequately maintained roads are safer and more durable. They are completely rid of potholes and other road defects that can affect the safety of road users. Fewer accident cases mean fewer injuries and a lower risk of death. This in turn saves money on healthcare but also prevents real-life danger for those who may be victims of this type of situation.
The following are the major advantages and the importance of road maintenance :
- Road maintenance is carried out to ensure the safety of roads and the comfort of vehicular movement of road users from one destination to another.
- Routine maintenance of the roads prevents accidents caused by damaged and faulty roads.
- It is essential for the free flow of traffic, safety, and smooth ride of vehicles.
- It increases the life span of the road and keeps roads in good condition all through their service year.
- Proper maintenance of various components of roads such as side edges, pavement drains, shoulders, etc provides better service to the road users.
Types of Road Maintenance Operations
There are three major types of road maintenance operations. These include:
- Preventative road maintenance
- Reactive maintenance
- Emergency maintenance
Preventative Road Maintenance
Preventative road maintenance requires strategic planning to avoid where possible any form of emergency or reactive road maintenance. This involves regular inspection of roads for damages, and preventative repairs are carried out to avoid further damages, accidents, or more elaborate repair works in the future.
This road maintenance operation help keeps roads traffic flowing, ticking over, and road users safe. Some of the measures required for preventive road maintenance include road emulsions, surface treatments, and highway preservation.
Reactive road Maintenance
Reactive road maintenance usually is carried out as a result of an existing problem. The common form of reactive road maintenance is majorly pothole repair. As we all know, potholes are created over time on road surfaces where cracks and eroded portions of the road form depressions or hollows on the roadway.
Reactive road maintenance can be quite expensive, most especially if what starts as a small issue is left unattended to that finally result in a much larger and potentially dangerous problem.
Emergency Road Maintenance
Emergency road maintenance is usually required when something catastrophic happens that has an immediate and tangible visible impact on the flow of traffic or the safety of road users. For example, earthquakes or floods as a result of heavy rains may disrupt the entire road network and poses a very high risk of injury or death to road users and even pedestrians.
Emergency maintenance requires immediate action to prevent disruption of traffic and injury to road users.
Component of Road Maintenance
The various components of road maintenance include the following:
- Roadside and drainage maintenance
- Shoulder and approaches maintenance
- Surface maintenance
- Snow and ice control
- Traffic service
- Culverts & Bridges maintenance
Roadside and Drainage Maintenance
Depending on the nature of the roadside, grassy roadside should be regularly cut, mowed, plow, or spray with weed killer to keep the grasses under control as much as possible.
To improve the sight distance and visibility of vehicular movement growing grasses along roadsides should also be trimmed regularly. Likewise, slope erosion by seeding, and mulching, must be checked and controlled to ensure slope and shoulder stability. Furthermore, cleaning up dirt and waste along the roadside should be routine work.
Drainages, side ditches, culverts, manholes, and other drainage structures, should always be kept clean and ready to allow the flow of water. Sediments deposited as a result of heavy flow in drainages must be removed immediately and dikes should be properly protected to prevent a recurrence.
Shoulder and Approaches Maintenance
Road shoulders are usually constructed parallel to the roadway surface that extends to the outer edge of the road carriageway. They are commonly used by traffic in an emergency but they are originally constructed to give the roadway lateral support, provide protection to the roadway surface, and give some measure of protection to traffic, and road users in an emergency. Shoulders are to be kept reasonably smooth, free of potholes and ruts, and properly sloped to provide surface drainage away from the pavement edge.
The road shoulder maintenance depends majorly on the nature of the earth’s surface of the area where the maintenance and repair are carried out.
Road Shoulder Types
The following are some of the common road shoulders types:
1. Earth and sod shoulders: Earth shoulders are usually shoulders where turf has not been established. They require adequate maintenance, most especially in the period just after construction. Every effort must be made to ensure that the turf is established and any turf present along the roadside is properly protected to prevent the resultant loss of soil through erosion and flood.
2. Aggregate surfaced shoulders: Usually aggregate surfaced shoulders vary in thickness, which affects the amount of maintenance required. On-road shoulders where the aggregate surfacing is light, the turf is usually established to some extent which helps to provide additional stability and prevent erosion. For maintenance purposes, an appreciable thickness of aggregate should be bladed periodically to ensure the surface is kept flushed and leveled with the edge of the roadway. Immediately after a soaking rain blading should be carried out to prevent the segregation of aggregates.
3. Bituminous surface-treated shoulders: are usually placed on a prepared flexible base. This base may consist of stabilized aggregate, rolled stone, asphalt stabilized aggregate, or soil cement. The surface may be treated with a prime coat or seal coat. Moat prime coats are usually referred to as “color” coats and they are mostly placed to provide for color differential or delineation.
4. Bituminous paved shoulders: are road shoulders surfaced with bituminous material, usually on a well-compacted base or subgrade. On some modern roads, the shoulder paving is an extension of the surface of the roadway pavement. The shoulder is seal coated to provide delineation to prevent erosion.
5. Concrete paved shoulders: These types of shoulders are mostly found in cities or urban areas where conditions warrant their construction. They are usually constructed with Portland cement concrete.
Road maintenance and rehabilitation programs helps in restoring the riding quality and maintain the structural integrity of the road throughout its design life. Regular surface maintenance usually helps to protect the pavement from water seepage; seal cracks or crews routinely patch and damaged areas.
Surface maintenance may be single or multiple. And usually the best type of surface course for roads surface maintenance is pre-mix carpet.
In road maintenance, for good surface treatment it is important that:
- The base course is adequately prepared to its profile and made more free from ruts and pot holes.
- Before the first surface dressing coat applied, the base should free from dust, loose soil, debris etc.
- An excellent road surface dressing depends upon the correct binder aggregate proportion.
In bituminous roads it is important that the new surface posses a bond with the existing base at the interface and the base should be nearly impervious.
Snow and Ice Control
In roads maintenance, you can apply abrasive to heavily traffic roadways and streets to reduce the effect snow and ice on the road surface. The most suitable materials that can be used are clean and sharp sand, washed stone screening, and cinders. Snow and ice on roadways reduces the coefficient of friction between vehicle tires and the road surface, which makes vehicle control almost impossible.
Traffic Service generally include road stripping, road signage repair and maintenance most especially during stormy weather.
Culvert & Bridge Maintenance
Culverts and Bridges are part of the major components road infrastructures and their maintenance is a major part of roads maintenance. Bridges or culvert can be maintained and kept in good condition by following the maintenance guidelines below:
- Any exposed steel must be cleaned by sand blasting flame or other means and then repainted on regular basis to avoid rust.
- Remedial measures should be applied to correct serious scour or spelling around and under piers and abutments.
- Extruded or dirt filled deck joint should be kept clean and resealed when necessary.
- If the culvert or the bridge deck become rough resurfacing is required to keep the road safe.
- Damage to guard rail caused by out of control vehicle must be repaired and strengthened immediately.
Factors That Affect Road Maintenance
The following factors can generally affect road maintenance:
- Increase volume of vehicular traffic: year in, year out vehicular traffic volume tend to increase tremendously therefore posting great challenge to maintenance activities on the road corridors.
- Poor Road design and construction: when roads are poorly design or constructed, maintenance needs becomes frequent which is usually uneconomical.
- Poor road management system: adequate and efficient maintenance of roads requires an efficient management system to monitor, plan and execute maintenance activates.
- Poor funding: funding of road maintenance has always been a critical matter to policy makers because of the enormous resources required to fund maintenance of roads.