Pavement Lifecycle

Overview

The typical lifespan of bituminous asphalt pavement is between 20 and 30 years.

This lifespan varies on numerous factors such as initial design and construction, environmental, water drainage, traffic loading, and the upkeep and maintenance that the pavement receives over the years. Understanding why specific pavement failures are occurring is the first step to creating a long-lasting, high-quality repair solution.

Factors affecting pavement lifecycle:

Initial design and construction: Every pavement structure must be designed to withstand the loading characteristics that it is expected to receive over the course of its lifetime. If the initial design and construction were flawed or otherwise insufficient, such as insufficient base support, or insufficient asphalt depth or type, the pavement will be subject to premature failure.

Environmental Factors: Each environment poses its own unique stress on asphalt pavements. For example, a wet and humid environment tends to present weakened subgrade load-bearing capability, requiring a heavier base construction. Over time moisture can seep under the pavement and saturate the base, reducing its ability to bear loads. Hot and dry climates accelerate the oxidation of the asphalt, resulting in the pavement becoming prematurely brittle.

Water Drainage: There two main types of water issues that have an adverse impact on pavement lifespan. These are sub-surface water saturation, and insufficient surface drainage. By far the most devastating is the sub-surface water saturation where leaking irrigation or high water tables saturate the main support structure under the asphalt, placing a higher degree of load-bearing stress on the asphalt and resulting in the eventual catastrophic failure of the asphalt and its base structure. These are extremely costly repairs that can be avoided through early identification and preventive action.

Traffic Loading: It's obvious that heavy traffic will adversely affect the life of pavement structures, especially those not designed to carry the current loading characteristics. But did you know that too little traffic loading is also detrimental to asphalt pavement? Too little loading can result in the asphalt becoming brittle sooner and shrinkage cracks developing throughout.

Upkeep and Maintenance: It’s a proven fact. A well-maintained pavement can add many years to the life of asphalt pavement. A regular regimen of sealing and crack filling slows down the rate of oxidation and prevents water from seeping under the pavement, thus preventing damage to its subsurface load-bearing structure. Proactive repairs, such as repairing a fatigued area as they appear, will also help to minimize water damage and ensure that the load-bearing base is maintained to continuously support the traffic that it bears. Occasionally a structural overlay may be required to enhance the load-bearing capability of a pavement as the loading requirements increases over time. This prevents costly stress and fatigue failures from occurring.