September 30, 2010

our roads their roads

I recently asked an engineer why our roads get bruised after a few rains while roads in Europe, where it rains throughout the year, remain in good condition. I have my own notions about corruption etc, but beyond that too, it is lack of imaginaiton and no application of available technology that is responsible for such sorry state of roads. I share these reasons here:

Surface engineering defects:
  • Surface is left uneven and slanted towards the middle of the road. Because of this, water collects on top of bitumen and remains there.
  • The top is not sprayed with coaltar soaked sand. Not doing this means there are big pores between gravel and the bonding is not proper. Traffic, especially heavy trucks, weaken these weak bonds further.
  • Drains on the roadside are either not planned or are allowed to choke. So, whenever there is rain, it collects on the road.
Underground engineering defects:
  • Poor stuffing and pressing with rollers before laying bitumen layer. This results in sinking and breaking of road, especially after heavy and prolonged rains as happened this year.
  • Poor stuffing of road after cable / sever/ pipe laying. This also results in similar problems.
  • Pipes etc are not checked when laid and they later leak at joints. This also results in caving of roads and springing of water from under.
  • Laying of sever lines under the road and leaving manholes on the road.
  • Proper dusting and coaltar wash is not done before laying new road or maintenance. When water falls, it seeps to the mud below and detaches the upper bitumen layer which in turn bears the burden of traffic.
Maintenance issues:
  • Haphazard patchwork during maintenance.
  • Very late maintenance. If the road is maintained regularly, the maintenance is cost-effective in the long run. However, in India, roads are maintained very late and by the time of next maintenance, they are full of potholes and the maintenance is very expensive.
These are only few simple things, all inexpensive and require a bit of sincerity on the part of construction and maintenance agencies. I am told, even with 50% 'commission' and profit margin roads would last much better if these and such other aspects are looked into.

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