By Evan Gurley
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, there are more than 4.1 million miles of roads in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration tracks the state of repair on 996,480 miles of major highways that are eligible for federal aid and in 2011, it found that 187,365 miles, or 18.8% are in poor or mediocre condition and need repair.
The need for rapid repair and replacement of concrete pavement is evident in every large metropolitan area in the U.S., Canada and around the world. Many aging pavements are showing alarming deterioration at the same time traffic is increasing to all-time highs. In many locations, pavement must be repaired alongside traffic since it cannot be diverted for a significant length of time. Real estate for building new roadways is scarce and the availability of viable detours is often non-existent. As a result, agencies are forced to rehabilitate roadways with rapid-repair materials that can be installed without affecting traffic. Making matters worse, money for repair and replacement is limited, so agencies are choosing cheap repair material, even if it won’t last for more than a few years.
A more sustainable approach is to select durable materials that last decades, even if the initial cost is higher. Precast concrete pavement systems (PCPS) offer durable and reliable alternatives to traditional rapid-repair techniques for concrete pavements.
In recent years, many government agencies started investigating strategies for pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction that is faster and produces longer-lasting pavement. A promising alternative strategy is the effective use of modular pavement technologies – principally PCPS.
The National Precast Concrete Association PCPS committee sees the use of Jointed Precast Concrete Pavement (JPrCP) as an emerging market for NPCA members, but it must be developed. At this point, there is little information available about JPrCP for owners and designers who are contemplating using this technology.
To address this lack of information, the PCPS Committee proposed developing a JPrCP Manual to provide guidance on the topics of design, fabrication and installation. It would also provide clear,
unbiased, scientific information to the specifying community. The goal is that the manual will educate designers, specifiers and NPCA producer members, as well as encourage innovation in concrete restoration using JPrCP.
The PCPS Committee is developing the manual with an outside consultant, Dr. Mark Snyder, who is an expert on precast concrete pavement/highway design.
The need for viable and durable methods of rapid repair and replacement of heavily traveled concrete pavement is imperative. JPrCP has emerged as a new and viable method for achieving PCPS that is versatile, efficient and durable. The PCPS Committee believes the manual will become a cornerstone document that will ensure further development by the precast industry and wider adoption by the agencies responsible for our roadways.
Evan Gurley is a technical engineer with NPCA.