Why road maintenance is so important

10th June 2019

A Hazell & Jefferies tarmac lorry laying tarmac on a road, followed by workers

Roads make a crucial contribution to the economic developmental growth in our society. Although you may not realise it, they are of crucial importance to UK industry not to mention the fact that they are the pillars of most of our day-to-day activities. In addition to this, roads provide us with access to employment, social, health and education services making a road network crucial in fighting against poverty. Roads open up more areas and stimulate economic and social development. For those reasons, road infrastructure is one of the most important of all public assets. World Bank are quoted as saying that roads “are among the most important public assets in any country.” with this in mind, keeping our roads safe and in efficient working order is crucial. Whether your roads are paved or unpaved, regular maintenance is critical to preserving strength, quality and most importantly, safety. However, proper road maintenance requires consistent upkeep and maintenance rather than just intervening when there’s a visible issue.

In this blog post we will discuss the importance of road maintenance in society and what the consequences of insufficient road safety are. Read on to find out more.

The price of neglect

Without consistent and professional maintenance, roads can rapidly fall into disrepair. Despite the initial investment in roads, over time, this infrastructure becomes damaged and deteriorates, requiring not only ongoing road maintenance services to maintain the existing roads, but also new investments to improve and expand the system. Without this ongoing maintenance and expansion, roads will continue to deteriorate, requiring significant repairs or even replacement after just a few years.

A lack of road maintenance services in an area ultimately results in a failing transport system, soaring costs and a significant financial cost to the local economy and population. Specifically, insufficient road maintenance leads to reduced service delivery and decreased safety on the roads.

What does proper road maintenance look like?

Road maintenance can come in a number of forms, but ultimately the end goal is to keep the road as similar to its original state as possible. In a lot of ways, the aim of maintenance is prevention, to keep minor defects from turning into major ones.

Some of the most frequent road maintenance issues include:

●blocked gullies or drains in the road (not on private property)

●carriageway (road) potholes

●carriageway (road) requires resurfacing

●defective or missing gully or grid covers in the road

●defective or missing man-hole covers on the pavement (not on private property)

●defective or missing road signs

●defective or missing street name plates

●defective utility boxes

●footway (pavement) needs resurfacing

●grass on public land needs cutting

●hedges need cutting

●overgrown weeds in public land

●defective guardrails

●defective road markings

●uneven footway (pavement)

Pavement preservation is a main focus of most municipal departments dealing with keeping the roadways intact. There are three main types of road maintenance:

●Emergency road maintenance

●Reactive Road Maintenance

●Preventative Road Maintenance

Understanding the difference in each of these is important for understanding road maintenance itself.

Emergency maintenance

This particular type of maintenance is due to unplanned circumstances and is usually a little stressful to deal with. Frequently, it’s extreme weather that creates the cause for emergency maintenance. For example, heavy rain can cause mudslides, and a storm can trigger swollen, rivers that can overflow. In countries with more extreme weather, devastation caused by hurricanes and tropical storms can disrupt entire road networks.

Reactive maintenance

This is a category of maintenance that involves fixing issues after they occur. They are the problems that weren’t on the municipality’s ‘to-do’ list until they were found to exist.

Whether it is a pothole, a missing drainage grate or an open manhole – scenarios such as these can’t go unattended and crews must be dispatched to remedy the situation. The most common one as we all know is patching potholes. A pothole doesn’t form on a good, well-paved road. It typically starts forming and growing on roads that already have existing issues, such as cracks. It is clear that at one point or another, potholes were preventable.

Continually relying on reactive maintenance is not a sustainable way to work on roads. It costs more and makes roads unsafe.

Preventative maintenance

Adequate planning helps avoid having to act out of a reactive stance. It can even mitigate an emergency. All that time spent on deciding which roads will be fixed and when helps keep them operating as designed.

Regular inspections, timely road-life-extension treatments, and a timetable that keeps streets from crumbling under the wear and tear of normal use help steer away from more serious problems. It also keeps residents happier.

General road maintenance – what does this consist of?

Every year roads are treated to keep them free from potholes, skid-proof and water-proof, much of this work is referred to surface dressing. The roads are sprayed with a hot, tar-like substance and covered with stone chippings, the road is then rolled to make it flat. Roads can also be treated with micro-asphalt, this is a cold bitumen material.

Surface dressing

This is essentially a principle method of routine maintenance of road surfaces; the concept is straightforward and in its simplest form involves a thin layer of bituminous binder which is applied to the road surface along with stone chippings and spread and rolled into the road. A successful application is weather dependent and the road surface temperature is critical.

Why use surface dressing?

Surface dressing performs two basic functions:

●Safety – skid resistant surfacing increasing the texture of the road’s surface with minimum use of scare high-quality aggregate. These properties directly affect the skid-resistance of the road.

●Durability – surface dressing seals the underlying surface against the ingress of water and air which cause deterioration of the structural courses of the road.

Highway maintenance

The term highway maintenance covers a vast range of general activities which you can group together as follows:

●Reactive maintenance – this includes responding to inspections, complaints and emergencies. This could be anything from filling potholes from clearing and making safe damage from car accidents.

●Routine maintenance – this could include surface patch work and cyclic activities such as grass cutting, weed spraying, road sweeping maintenance of planted areas and trees along the highway.

●Programmed maintenance – this is maintenance carried out within a planned schedule and includes surface dressing, resurfacing, strengthening or reconstruction of roads or footways.

●Winter services – which seek to keep the network functioning safely by salting and clearance of ice and snow.

●Emergency response – this is a response to weather and any other kind of emergency affecting the highway network.

●Regulating and inspecting – activities of others within the road network.

Hazell and Jefferies highway maintenance and tarmacing Contractors since 1971

At Hazell & Jefferies Ltd we offer high quality highway surface dressing solutions for whatever your road maintenance requirements are. We will guarantee that your roads receive the highest standard of service to improve water and skid resistance. Limit the damage to the road surface and foundation caused by winter temperatures and heavy traffic by treating your roads with a protective layer. Whether you need road maintenance services for a commercial or domestic project in Oxford, our surface dressing contractors are here to help you. Get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.

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