Fully functioning, safe roads and bridges are vital to the economy across our nation. The US contains over 250,000 miles of “high volume traffic”. High volume being defined as over 50,000 vehicles per day. It stands to reason that repairs or replacements of those high volume roadways create major issues when they deteriorate. Typically, an asphalt road surface has a lifespan of 10-15 years while a concrete road service lasts 40 or more years. The increased lifespan of 3 to 4 times longer makes concrete a logical choice for high traffic areas.
Take a look at the video below that shows the heavily traveled I-5 North Highway in Los Angeles. Through the use of precast concrete replacement slabs, improvements to the road were made at night to minimize disruption to commuter traffic and improve worker safety. The sections that were replaced will require no further work for a very long time. If the I-5 Highway had been repaired using traditional asphalt pavement, the road would’ve been closed for an indeterminate amount of time and would have a lifespan of only ¼ that of the concrete replacement slabs that were employed. It’s a “get in, get out” process because the slabs arrive at the site ready for installation. The offsite manufacturing process minimizes disruption and ensures top quality product each and every time all while maximizing worker safety.
Advantages of PCI certified precast prestressed concrete replacement slabs:
Faster construction cycle due to offsite manufacturing in a quality controlled environment
Less disruption (if any) to the daily commuter who typically uses the road
Less construction staging area creates a safer work atmosphere for workers
Projects can range from 1 slab to large multi-lane projects
Ready for immediate use
Weather plays little if no disruption to the installation process
Smaller work crews are needed
Lower life-cycle costs over the life of the roads
Vehicles use 15-20% less fuel of concrete roadways
Concrete roads are more resistant to fuel leakage from cars and extreme weather.
The argument can be made that asphalt roads are less costly and that asphalt can be recycled using a melting process. Asphalt roads are easy to repair using patches or a relayering process. However, asphalt is not the “workhorse” concrete is. Heavy rain and extreme weather take a toll of asphalt. Also, the petroleum needed to produce asphalt, as well as the process itself, is less environmentally friendly than the production of concrete. When considering how to most effectively use precious infrastructure dollars, PCI certified precast concrete replacement slabs is the best solution for high volume roadway under constant use.