Introduction - Cement Concrete Roads
Road Transport is a critical infrastructure for economic development of a country. In India Road Infrastructure is used to transport over 65% of total goods and 85% of total passenger traffic. We have a fairly extensive network of roads, the Second largest in the World after U.S. Out of over 49 Lakhs km (4.9 million km) total road length, 92,851 km are National Highways/ Expressways, consisting of 1208 km Expressways predominantly access controlled, 22,757 km 4/6/8 lane and remaining two lane and single lane roads. Further, there are 1,64,360 km State Highways (SH) and 46,28,251 km Major District, other District and Village Roads including Municipal Roads.
The inadequacies of the road system are proving to be a drag on our economic growth. Roads need upgradation to propel our country as one with reliable infrastructure of international standards. Even long lengths of National Highways, which form the backbone of our system, are single-lane and thus incapable of handling the explosive growth of traffic that has taken place in recent years.
There are two main options available for new and as also for widening and strengthening of existing road pavements – bitumen and concrete. In spite of Government of India stretching its budgetary allocations year after year to upgrade Indian Roads to meet the global standards, our roads are still not in good condition mainly due to the preference hitherto given to conventional Bitumen Roads which deteriorate faster requiring heavy expenditure on maintenance.
If the dream of the Government of India to provide a durable and long-lasting road infrastructure with world-class standards catalyzing multi-faceted development in the country has to be realized, the only alternative available is to go in for Cement Concrete Pavements on a large scale, both for future construction and for repairing existing pavements as a conscious National Policy.
It is, indeed, heartening that our dynamic Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport and Highways, being convinced of the positives of Cement Concrete Pavement such as environment-friendly construction, reduced Green House Gas emissions, saving of fuel consumption, etc. has taken a bold initiative through a conscious policy decision of adopting techno-economically superior Cement Concrete Roads in the country in National Highway construction which would give a fillip to our economy and put it on a trajectory of fast growth.
As a follow up, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued Circular No. RW/MH/33044/31/ 2014/S&R(R) (Pt) dated 4th August, 2014 (Annexure-I) prescribing Rigid Pavement as the “default mode” of construction, even if the initial price comparison with bituminous pavement is higher upto 20%. Similar initiatives if taken by State Govts. and local bodies for construction of State Highways, Rural Roads, Urban Roads and Panchayat Roads in Cement Concrete would go a long way in contributing to the creation and implementation of durable road connectivity.
The Indian Cement Industry with its capacity, world-class quality of cement from State-of-Art-Technology manufacturing facilities, assures of adequate availability of cement for this nationally important mission.
MAJOR ADVANTAGES OF CEMENT CONCRETE ROADS:
- Long life (30 – 40 years)
- Low maintenance cost
- Fuel saving @ 14% for load carriers
- Utilise up to 35 per cent of fly ash – disposal of which is a great problem
- Always economical when life-cycle-cost is compared. Often initially cheaper than bitumen roads
- Pollution- free construction
- Frequent repair/maintenance of bituminous pavement causes inconvenience to users which is not the case with cement concrete pavement
- Good riding quality throughout life
- Faster vehicle movement and reduced travel time, leading to fuel saving for all vehicles
- No effect of spillage of oil
- Concrete surface more resistant to water
- Concrete does not lose strength with age unlike bituminous mixes
- Concrete gains strength with passage of time
- Concrete road can withstand extremes of weather
- Better performance even over poor soil sub-grade
- Better light reflectivity – save power in street lighting
- Safer night driving due to better visibility
- Does not increase the ambient temperature at all. On the contrary, the rate of increase of ambient temperature is actually reduced by adoption of cement concrete pavement
There has been a general impression in the past that the initial cost of Cement Concrete Road is higher than that of Bitumen Road. However, in the current scenario when the prices of Bitumen are skyrocketing at a faster pace, construction cost of Cement Concrete Highway has definitely turned out to be cheaper than Bitumen ones, even at the initial stage of construction. On a life-cycle-cost basis, in any case, Concrete Pavement on Highways is conclusively cheaper than Bituminous Pavement.
In case of new construction of rural road and strengthening of urban road by White-Topping (A cement concrete layer of suitable thickness provided on top of an existing bitumen pavement to improve its structural adequacy and riding quality.), Cement Concrete Pavements would work out to be somewhat costlier at the initial stage of construction, but on life-cycle-cost basis would definitely be cheaper and also help avoid repetitive expenditure on repairs etc.