Fixing roads now… and for the future
The right treatment for the right road at the right time. That’s
the mandate for the City’s Transportation Infrastructure
Management team as it goes about the task of repairing roads throughout
division’s goal is to keep the roads in a state of good
repair at a minimal cost to the taxpayer. This cost-effective
way of maintaining the roads is called “life-cycle costing.” It
means fixing the roads as necessary to avoid costly maintenance
in the future and, in essence, postponing the date when an old
road would have to be completely reconstructed.
Typically, a major roadway
is made up of an asphalt top and concrete bottom. In most cases,
a new road’s asphalt has a life span
of 18-25 years. As weather conditions and regular wear-and-tear
occur, cracks and holes appearing in the road are repaired by City
staff. The freeze-thaw cycle is a road’s worst enemy. When
water enters the cracks created in the road, it actually has the
strength and capability of lifting huge chunks of the asphalt.
After the road
has been in existence for about 20 years, inspectors look at
the road and perform engineering tests to determine if
it needs a new surface. If the road is deemed to be in good shape,
no work will be done at this point and the inspectors will return
at a later date to re-inspect the road. If, however, the asphalt
is in disrepair, the City will replace the asphalt surface.
If the road was in need
of repair, but neglected at this stage, the deterioration would
continue right through to the base of the
road. The result would be a costly base reconstruction which usually
costs about three times the amount of repairing the asphalt portion
of the road. Usually, a road’s base will last about 50 years
if preventative measures such as resurfacing are done periodically.
If preventative measures are not undertaken, a road’s base
might last only 25-30 years.
Taking steps to repave
the road before it reaches a state of further disrepair has some
obvious benefits. The work results in an improved
road surface that benefits road users and also avoids the premature
deterioration of the road’s base. Bridges and sidewalks are
maintained in a similar fashion.
This might explain why
certain road work is performed. Some residents might see a road
that, on first glance, they don’t think
requires resurfacing. But, by doing so, the City is prolonging
the life of the road as well as saving money by avoiding a complete
reconstruction. This process -- that is the planned preventative
interventions combined with financial modeling techniques -- forms
the basis of life-cycle costing. These techniques allow staff to
manage “assets” better and assists in conveying financial
responsibility to the taxpayer at large.
Life cycle costing has proven to be a cost-effective process in
maintaining smooth sailing for Toronto’s road users and