Maintenance of Rural Roads

J. Amsler

As already indicated in the preceding section, roads are built for a given life span, that is, a given number of standard axle weights. Once built, with the best possible quality, they are opened to traffic. As near-surface constructions they are particularly prone to wear and tear and to aging. Over time, the wear and tear from traffic, climate, timber harvesting, and agricultural and other activities reduces the original quality of the road. The state of the road, in particular of the track for vehicles, worsens because of this wear, and also as a result of damage and aging of the building materials. During the life cycle of the road, however, its quality must not be allowed to fall below a given level (see Fig. 3.19).

Roads built with public funds or by a local authority often are subject to legal minimum maintenance standards, designed to ensure safe conditions. This is achieved with the help of periodic road maintenance.

Simple, inexpensive solutions often are adopted for the building of minor rural roads. This inevitably results in slightly higher maintenance costs. If it is possible to increase the

Figure 3.19. Life cycle of a road. Source: [29].
Progressiva improvement standard

(1) Min. construction cost variant

(2) Min, maintenance cost variant

(3) Optimum cost variant

Figure 3.20. Construction and maintenance costs as a function of road standard (economic decision-making model). Source: [29].

service life of a road by proper maintenance, this will also reduce interest and depreciation costs. So, maintenance makes economic sense too (see Fig. 3.20).

The main objectives of road maintenance can be summed up as follows (key items in bold):

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