Concrete Road Repairs Manual Updated By Highways England

The main governing body for Britain’s roads has updated its handbook for concrete repairs for the first time in 30 years.

The Highways England Concrete Roads Centre of Excellence has published a new version of the Concrete Pavement Maintenance Manual, last published in 2001 and last updated a decade before that, back when Highways England was known as the Highways Agency.

This new publication coincides with a multi-million-pound road repair and resurfacing plan, which includes the 400 miles of concrete motorways and A-roads that predominantly lie along the east of England.

The guidebook updates advice and guidance for maintaining and repairing concrete roads, taking advantage of new repair techniques introduced after the guide’s most recent publication date in 2001.

It collates the knowledge, experience and technical information that has built up over the past two decades in the industry into a single document, and provides the most common methods and techniques to inspect concrete roads and how to repair them efficiently.

It focuses primarily on road surfaces, however it also provides advice on how to repair faults and diagnose underlying structural issues that can often differ from asphalt and tarmac.

Concrete roads are a popular alternative to traditional asphalt roads due to their longevity, smoothness and hard-wearing nature, to the point that several major concrete roads and structures have remained structurally sound long after the end of their expected lifespan.

During the 1960s and 1970s, a period characterised by major developments in concrete construction methods and a general embracing of an architectural style known as brutalism, concrete roads were seen as the future of motorway construction.

Early motorways, such as the Preston by-pass and the M1, were made using asphalt, which whilst having a lower initial cost also require more maintenance than concrete roads, and are particularly vulnerable to heavy rains and storms.

Concrete motorways, constructed properly using large slabs and effective texturing, can last four times as long as an asphalt road, and providing it is used enough to offset the initial expense can be cheaper in the long run, especially given the reduced maintenance needs.

There are also benefits for the driver, as studies suggest that vehicles driving on concrete roads use less fuel than on asphalt roads, as well as better visibility at night due to the concrete surface reflecting light more efficiently than street lamps.

There were even experiments that took place to see if concrete roads could be used to charge electric vehicles whilst they were in motion.

The expected lifespan of a concrete road is estimated to be 40 years. However, many of Britain’s concrete motorways and trunk roads have lasted significantly longer than this without the need for major repairs and the delays that come with it.

Improved technology in concrete construction has also reduced the effect of the few flaws concrete roads have. Reinforced concrete reduces the risk of cracks and stress fractures that could require expensive repairs and improved surfacing reduces the noise sometimes associated with early roads.

As well as this, improved machine learning technology has allowed for aspects of the fault-identification and repair process to be automated.