Portland cement concrete (PCC) is the most cost-effective, sustainable pavement material available.
Lower overall cost
A typical 20-year asphalt design life requires crack fill maintenance every 2 to 4 years and resurfacing every 8 to 12 years. By comparison, a typical 20-year concrete design-life pavement requires minimal maintenance and depending on use, will provide 30 – 40 years or more of reliable service. Based on initial cost, routine maintenance and resurfacing, total cost of ownership for asphalt can be 300% over that of a similar concrete pavement.
Concrete has been used for hard surface paving for well over 100 years, making it one of the most thoroughly studied and utilized construction materials in use today. We know precisely how to design, prepare, place and finish it for optimum results. Its durability and predictability do not require costly over-engineering.
That’s proven right here in Minnesota’s extreme climate. From Pipestone to Minneapolis, streets constructed of a 6-inch Concrete have stood the test of time, providing municipalities a reliable, low-maintenance city infrastructure serving residents, commerce, industry and institutions. Duluth is home to one of the oldest concrete streets in America, East 7th Street. Paved in 1910, the street is based on a 5 1/4-inch cross section of concrete over a compacted 6-inch sub-base of black cinder and lake gravel, topped with 1 ¾ inches of “Granitoid” scored to simulate pavers.
A 6-inch cross section is often all it takes in many roadway applications. A Concrete pavement test cell constructed in June 2000 is just 5 inches thick and installed over a subbase that mimics Minnesota’s native soils. The 12-foot-wide lanes are placed in 10-foot-long, un-doweled, jointed slabs. Traffic in one lane is subject to 102,000-pound trucks passing 80 times a day. The road is not just holding up well, it’s exceeding expectations required for normal road use in Minnesota’s extreme and varying climate.
Concrete’s lighter color also pays dividends, both in lifetime maintenance cost and illumination. Ever walk barefoot on asphalt during a bright, hot summer day? Darker colored materials absorb the sun’s light and heat, contributing to asphalt’s comparatively higher maintenance costs over time. For this reason, some asphalt mixes contain color-lightening additives. Concrete’s naturally lighter color needs no additives to resist the sun’s damaging rays, thereby reducing maintenance issues and promoting greater sustainability over the pavement’s life cycle.
Concrete’s reflectivity pays a double dividend at night by increasing personal safety and security. Research shows concrete’s lighter color reacts well with the trend in LED lamps being utilized in street and parking lot applications and has saved customers up to 37% in annual energy costs. Retailers have also reported 3%-5% sales increases due to a cooler, brighter, safer environment provided by their concrete parking lots.
What about the sub-base?
Many customers assume that concrete must always be placed over an aggregate base similar to asphalt adding the cost of additional excavation, imported materials and labor to a job. Based on project specific soil conditions Concrete is a rigid pavement and can be placed on a much thinner aggregate sub-base due to high compressive strengths that transfer imposed loads over a much larger surface and directly into the sub-grade.
Doesn’t it need steel reinforcement?
Unreinforced Concrete crack control is achieved with proper panel size facilitated by sawing control joints in pre-determined locations based on the specific design. In general, distributed steel utilized to control cracking adds NO additional load carry capacity than unreinforced concrete pavement and can present significant problems when installed improperly. Many highways, industrial and commercial parking lots are being built with no distributed steel reinforcement.
See what the experts say about concrete paving vs. asphalt.
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