4 types of Pavement with Full Details

What is pavement?

The pavement consists of sturdy materials such as concrete or asphalt, forming surfaces like roads or driveways.

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In terms of structural characteristics, road pavements are categorized into:

  1. Flexible pavement
  2. Rigid pavement
  3. Semi-rigid pavements
  4. Interlocking cement concrete block pavement (ICBP)

Without delay, let’s delve into the details of the first type of pavement.

Flexible pavement

Flexible pavement is characterized by its minimal flexural strength. Furthermore:

The flexible pavement layer is capable of absorbing both non-recoverable and recoverable deformations from the underlying layers, including the subgrade, up to the pavement surface. 

The maximum vertical compressive stress occurs on the pavement surface directly beneath the wheel load, equivalent to the contact pressure exerted by the wheel. 

Lower pavement layers are subjected to lower magnitudes of stress and do not directly bear the wearing effects of traffic loads or environmental factors. Consequently, less expensive materials can be utilized in these lower layers.

Within flexible pavement layers, the topmost layer must possess the highest strength, as it must endure the greatest compressive stresses from traffic loads, as well as the wear and tear induced by moving vehicles and fluctuating weather conditions.

Next, let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of flexible pavements.

Advantages of flexible pavement

The initial cost can be minimized by installing a thin bituminous surface layer. The standard design load is measured in terms of CSA (Cumulative Standard Axles). Functional deterioration is a factor to consider. Strengthening can be achieved through overlay. There is a high salvage value. Additionally, the pavement can be opened to traffic after 24 hours.

Disadvantages of flexible pavements

Deterioration in stagnant water is a concern. Regular maintenance is necessary. Patching potholes can be costly. The thickness is excessive. Nighttime visibility is significantly reduced.

That concludes our discussion on flexible pavement. Let’s proceed to the next type of pavement.

Rigid pavement

Rigid pavements are characterized by their significant flexural strength or flexural rigidity.

Here are further details:

  • Rigid pavements are typically constructed using Portland cement concrete, hence often referred to as ‘CC pavement.’
  • Construction of rigid pavement involves using high-quality plane cement concrete known as ‘pavement quality concrete (PQC).’
  • Pavement quality concrete (PQC) in CC pavement is generally expected to withstand flexural stresses of up to 45kg/cm2.
  • Unlike flexible pavement layers, in rigid pavements, stresses are not transferred from grain to grain to the lower layers.
  • Slab action in rigid pavements allows for the distribution of wheel load cases over a wider area beneath the pavement slab.

With these details in mind, are you ready to investigate the benefits and drawbacks of inflexible pavements?

Advantages of rigid pavement include:

  • Immunity to deterioration under stagnant water.
  • Reduced thickness requirements.
  • Extended service life of up to 30 years.
  • Very low life-cycle cost.
  • Enhanced nighttime visibility.

Disadvantages of rigid pavement encompass:

  • The necessity for an axle load study.
  • Requirement for designs to accommodate a 30-year lifespan.
  • Challenges associated with restoring pavements under cracking.
  • Risk of surfaces becoming smooth or slippery.

Lengthy waiting period of 28 days before opening to traffic.

Let’s wrap up this section with a comparison.

Here’s a comparison between flexible and rigid pavements:

Flexible Pavement

  • Primarily constructed using bitumen
  • Bitumen can soften in low temperatures, leading to pavement failure
  • Susceptible to potholes when water enters during rainfall
  • Bitumen can become brittle in cold temperatures, causing pavement cracking

Rigid Pavement

  • Often referred to as concrete pavements
  • Longer lifespan and minimal maintenance requirements
  • Resilient to extreme weather conditions
  • The initial cost is typically higher but proves economical in the long run

Semi-rigid or composite pavements occupy an intermediary position between Flexible and Rigid pavements. While their flexural strength is less than that of a concrete slab, they still derive support from lateral load distribution through the pavement depth, akin to flexible pavements.

When intermediate materials such as soil cement or lean cement concrete are employed in the sub-base or base course layers of pavements, they constitute semi-rigid pavement.

Composite pavements consist of both flexible pavement layers and one or more semi-rigid pavement layers.

Finally, there’s ICBP, or Interlocking Concrete Block Pavement, which is another type of pavement worth noting.

Interlocking Concrete Block Pavement (ICBP)

Interlocking Concrete Block Pavement (ICBP) has been widely adopted in various countries as a specialized solution to address challenges where conventional construction methods face durability issues due to operational and environmental constraints.

That concludes our journey through the different types of pavement. If you have any questions about this, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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