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Review of Practices for Improving Ride Quality and Periodical

Renewal of Bituminous Pavements in India


By
Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal* and Prof. A. Veeraragavan**

[Paper No. 662 published in the Journal of the Indian Roads Congress,
Volume 77-3, October December 2016]

ABSTRACT

Improving ride quality and periodical renewal are the two major components of
rehabilitation of existing bituminous pavements, which are generally practiced across
India. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has provided guidelines through
circulars on how to improve ride quality and practices for periodical renewal of
bituminous pavements on national highway stretches. These practices are also
generally followed on other highways across India.

It has been observed that bituminous mixes/applications currently used in the so-
called Improving Ride Quality Programme (IRQP) and Periodical Renewal (PR) do
not generally produce durable bituminous pavements, which result in unsatisfactory
condition of roads especially during monsoons.

This paper gives a review of all practices currently used in IRPQ and PR across India.
Detailed guidelines have been given in this paper for selection of acceptable
bituminous mixes/applications based on durability and economics in case of IRQP
and PR. Primarily, recommendations have been made not to use open graded,
permeable bituminous mixes and use only dense graded bituminous mixes. Use of
surface dressing in lieu of premix carpet has also been recommended for low volume
traffic roads based on economics and durability.

INTRODUCTION

Two major components of rehabilitation of bituminous pavements generally practiced


across India are: improving ride quality and periodical renewal. (Unfortunately,
recycling has not made much headway in India as a means for rehabilitating
bituminous pavements.) Ride quality of bituminous pavements can deteriorate
prematurely due to several factors such as uneven consolidation of subgrade and/or
subbase; substandard granular subbase (GSB) and/or wet mix macadam (WMM); and
stripping, rutting and/or fatigue cracking of bituminous courses. Periodical renewal of
bituminous wearing courses is required because bitumen being exposed to sun and air
gets oxidized with time and becomes brittle resulting in raveling and subsequent
disintegration. Bituminous wearing courses can also develop top down cracking under
intense traffic loads.

* Associate Director Emeritus, National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT),


Auburn University, USA (currently Jaipur) < pkandhal@gmail.com>
** Professor of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai
<av@iitm.ac.in>

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The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has provided guidelines through
circulars on how to improve ride quality and practices for periodical renewal of
bituminous pavements on national highway stretches. These practices are also
generally followed on other highways across India. State highway agencies and other
agencies such as Border Roads Organization (BRO) have their own practices in
addition to those in the above guidelines.

It has been observed that bituminous mixes/applications used in the so-called


Improving Ride Quality Programme (IRQP) and Periodical Renewal (PR) do not
always produce durable bituminous pavements which result in unsatisfactory
condition of roads especially during monsoons.

CURRENT PRACTICES

As mentioned earlier in introduction, MORTH issued Revised Guidelines for


Selection of National Highway Stretches for Improving Ride Quality Programme
(IRQP) and Periodic Renewals (PR) in September 2002 (1). Although these
guidelines are meant for national highways, other organizations like state highway
agencies, Border Roads Organization, also use similar guidelines for other highways
across India. Some agencies also use other variations of bituminous
mixes/applications. So there is a significant proliferation of practices used in the
IRQP and PR of bituminous pavements across India.

Table 1 gives MORTH guidelines for IRQP in terms of various unbound and bound
pavement courses/applications depending on the thickness of existing pavement.

Table 1. Various MORTH Options in Improving Ride Quality Programme


(IRQP)
Existing pavement Options
thickness
Less than 200 mm 225 mm WMM + 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat
Less than 200 mm 225 mm WMM + 20 mm MSS
Between 200 and 250 150 mm WMM + 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat
mm
Between 200 and 250 150 mm WMM + 20 mm MSS
mm
Between 250 and 300 75 mm BUSG + 25 mm SDBC
mm
Between 250 and 300 75 mm BUSG + 25 mm MSS
mm
More than 300 mm 50 mm BM + 25 mm SDBC
More than 300 mm 75 mm BM + 25 mm SDBC

Primarily, six courses/applications are included in Table 1: Wet Mix Macadam


(WMM), Bituminous Macadam (BM), Semi Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC),
Built Up Spray Grout (BUSG), Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS), and Premix Carpet
(PMC). These courses/applications have been reviewed in the next section of this
paper.

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Table 2 gives MORTH guidelines for PR in terms of bituminous courses/applications
depending on daily number of commercial vehicles. Primarily, the following
courses/applications are included in this table: Semi Dense Bituminous Concrete
(SDBC), Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS), and Premix Carpet (PMC). These are also
reviewed in the next section.

Table 2 . MORTH Guidelines for Periodical Renewal (PR)


Number of Commercial Vehicles per Option
Day
Less than 1500 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat
Less than 1500 20 mm MSS
More than 1500 25 mm SDBC
More than 1500 25 mm BC*
* Only if existing surface is also BC.

REVIEW OF BITUMINOUS MIXES/APPLICATIONS FOR IRQP AND PR

This section gives a review of all bituminous mixes/applications currently used and
proposed to be used for IRQP and PR across India. The following have been
reviewed: Bituminous Macadam (BM), Semi Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC),
Dense Bituminous Macadam (DBM), Bituminous Concrete (BC), Premix Carpet
(PMC), Surface Dressing (SD), Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS), and Built Up Spray
Grout (BUSG). The fundamental suitability of these mixes/applications in flexible
pavement has been examined (2,3).

Bituminous Macadam (BM)

Bituminous Macadam (BM) is an open graded, permeable, and recipe type mix
produced without any quality control on its volumetrics or strength (stability). The
primary problem with the BM mix is that being very open graded, it is highly
permeable and therefore will trap moisture or water. BM and SDBC were developed
several years ago, when conventional hot mix plants were not common. At that time,
hot mixing was done in small portable plants or concrete mixers in which much fine
aggregate could not be used due to limitations of the available heating and mixing
equipment. Now, good hot mix plants are normally available almost all across India.

Figures 1 and 2 show cross-sections where BM has been used as a base, binder or
profile corrective course (PCC) with no outlet for water thus creating a bath tub
situation within the pavement.

The fundamental question thus boils down to BM versus DBM. Should open graded
BM be deleted and densely graded DBM used instead in all cases? To answer that
question BM and DBM should be compared both from the engineering aspect

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Fig. 1 Flexible pavement with BM as a base course or PCC

Fig. 2 Flexible pavement with BM as a base/binder course

(primary) and economical aspect (secondary). This has been done considering the
following factors (2):

Permeability: It has been acknowledged in many IRC and MORTH publications that
BM is a much more open mix compared to the densely graded DBM. The MORTH
Manual for Construction and Supervision of Bituminous Works (4) states on page 52,
Because of the open-graded aggregate matrix, the voids content (in the BM) can be
as high as 20-25 percent.

Figure 3 shows the open texture of compacted BM Grading 1. When these specimens
were placed under a water tap, the water readily passed through them indicating very
high permeability.

So undoubtedly the BM is a highly permeable mix compared to the dense graded


DBM. No permeable asphalt layer is desirable within the pavement structure (unless it
is specifically for drainage with proper outlets) whether it is a PCC, base course,
binder course or whatever. If this fundamental requirement is disregarded, the
potential for premature pavement distress
is increased. A permeable layer always attracts and traps water, moisture or moisture

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Fig. 3 Open surface texture of compacted BM Grading 1

vapour. Water can come from the top, from the sides, or from the unbound courses
underneath (5,6). This leads to stripping of bitumen in the permeable layer as well as
in the adjacent layers overlying or underlying it due to traffic action thereby resulting
in premature failure of the road (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Premature failure of a road in Eastern India


due to presence of water in the BM

Structural Strength: Many highway agencies across the world give structural value
to a BM type mix (used for drainage with proper outlets) of 50% of dense graded
DBM type mix. IRC Publications 37 and 81 on flexible pavement design state that 7
mm of DBM is equal to 10 mm of BM. In either case, the DBM is far superior to the
BM in terms of structural strength and fatigue life.

Use as a PCC: It has been surmised that BM is a good material for profile corrective
course (PCC) because it resists reflection cracking. It does not appear that this
conclusion is based on any research. No other country is using a permeable, water-
trapping type mix for PCC. Only dense graded mixes such as DBM or BC are used
for transverse or longitudinal profile correction in other countries (7) in courses called
scratch courses, levelling courses or wedge courses, which are same as Indias PCC.

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Cost Considerations: The use of BM is quite often made on the premise that BM is
cheaper than DBM and, therefore, it is suitable for use in developing country like
India. That is simply not correct as discussed below.

Comparative cost analysis of BM and DBM has been done based on the 2013 Basic
Schedule of Rates (BSR) of BM and DBM obtained from the Rajasthan PWD Circle
in Jaipur. The cost of BM Grading 2 in place is Rs 5,354 per cu m and the cost of
DBM Grading 2 in place is Rs. 6,851 per cu m. Considering that 100 mm thick BM is
equal to 70 mm thick DBM as per IRC guidelines, the actual cost of DBM in place
comes out to be Rs. 4,796 per cu m. That is a saving of Rs. 558 per cu m or about 10
percent, when DBM is used in lieu of BM. That is a lot of savings on a road project.
The preceding cost analyses have clearly established that DBM is much cheaper than
the BM on equivalency cost basis. This fact should not be ignored by pavement
designers.

Traffic Conditions: According to some highway engineers, BM is intended for low-


traffic roads only, although it is being used indiscriminately on national highways and
state highways. However, the fact remains that any layer, which traps water, should
not be used whether it is a low-volume or high-volume road. The concept of perpetual
pavement or long lasting pavements is relevant even for less traffic roads.

Even the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has stated in 2008 the following in
their investigational report (8) on premature failure of NH-91 in Uttar Pradesh: For
ensuring long term pavement performance, focus now must shift to the use of dense
graded bituminous mixes (such as DBM and BC) rather than the open graded and
semi dense bituminous mixes (such as BM and SDBC).Bituminous Macadam is
a highly permeable mix which is prone to rutting and water induced damage.
Bituminous Macadam, though is widely used at present, but needs to be gradually
replaced with DBM in the coming years, because it is not cost effective in the long
run and does not perform better during the design life of a pavement subjected to
heavy traffic. Similarly, the use of Semi-Dense Bituminous Concrete is also needed to
be discouraged as it suffers from "pessimism" voids, which have potential to trap
water resulting into damage due to moisture. It should be substituted by Bituminous
Concrete as it is a better performing mix and is also cost effective in the long run.

It is evident from the preceding discussion that BM should not be used at all in
flexible pavement.

Semi Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC)

There is no engineering logic in using a semi-dense mix when only dense,


continuously graded mixes are technically desirable. In most developed countries (7)
either dense mixes (HMA) are provided or the open graded asphalt friction course
(OGFC) is provided as wearing course. Semi-dense mixes which are neither dense
graded nor open graded, contain the so-called pessimum voids when constructed.
Terrel and Shute (9) advanced the concept of pessimum voids for stripping.
Pessimum represents opposite of optimum. The objective is to stay out of the
pessimum void range. A semi-dense mix, which has a potential for having
pessimum voids in it, is likely to trap moisture/water and cause stripping. As

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mentioned earlier, this also has been acknowledged by the CRRI while investigating
NH-91 in Uttar Pradesh (8).

Unfortunately, the use of SDBC has been advertently promoted to some extent
because only SDBC Grading 2 has been specified by MORTH for a thin layer of 25
mm. However, the fact remains that thin 25 mm mat cools rapidly after lay down and
it is not possible to compact it to the desired level. This results in high permeability
and reduced life. It should also be noted that BC is only 10 percent more expensive
than the SDBC as is evident from the following prices obtained from the 2013
Schedule of Rates of Rajasthan PWD, Jaipur Circle:

Semi-Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC) Grading 2 Rs. 7,758 per cu m


Bituminous Concrete (BC) Grading 2 Rs. 8,553 per cu m

Unfortunately across India the extremely undesirable combination of BM and SDBC


continues to be used even in heavy rain areas like northeast India. It is simply
unacceptable. Rainwater permeates through the semi dense SDBC (or its cracks) and
is stored in the underlying BM bath tub. The water or moisture vapor from the BM
can cause stripping in the BM as well as in the overlying SDBC, quite often also
causing debonding (scaling) of the SDBC from the BM. This scaling results in
numerous shallow potholes on the road as shown in Figure 5. These shallow
potholes are sometimes repaired with premix carpet (PMC) mix which can perpetuate
the problem.

Figure 5. Shallow potholes (scaling) on SDBC on highway in South India

Although MORTH has rightly deleted SDBC in its revised 2013 Specification (10), it
is being used at the present time by some states.

Dense Bituminous Macadam (DBM)

At the present time the dense bituminous macadam (DBM) is specified for use as a
base course and/or binder course. Two gradations of the DBM are specified in Section
505 of 2013 MORTH specifications: Grading 1 has a NMAS (nominal maximum
aggregate size) of 37.5 mm and Grading 2 has a NMAS of 25 mm.
Table 3 gives the existing MORTH composition of DBM Gradings 1 and 2. The
specified percentage of fine aggregate is the same in both gradings (28-42 percent),

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the main difference is just some large size aggregate particles (25-45 mm size) are
contained in Grading 1. Use of large stone mix (NMAS of 37.5 mm or larger) has
several disadvantages such as segregation (Figure 6) and high permeability (2). These
disadvantages outweigh the marginal gain in stability, if any, over a 25 mm NMAS
mix. Since Grading 1 is highly permeable, it has to be sealed or overlaid before rainy
season otherwise water will penetrate it and damage the underlying WMM course.
Experienced Indian highway engineers advise this but the solution is to simply ban
the problematic DBM Grading 1 altogether and use only the DBM Grading 2. On
many national highways in India deteriorated DBM Grading 1 in the lower lift of the
total DBM, which was disintegrated due to stripping, could not be retrieved intact by
coring. One case is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 6. Segregation of DBM Grading 1 (37.5 mm NMAS mix) resulting in


honeycombing

Figure 7. Deteriorated DBM Grading 1 used in lower DBM lift could not
retrieved intact while coring

TABLE 3. EXISTING MORTH GRADATIONS FOR DENSE BITUMEN


MACADAM (DBM) (Ref. 10)

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Grading 1 2
Nominal Aggregate Size 40 mm 25 mm
Lift Thickness 80-100 mm 50-75 mm
Sieve, mm Percent Passing
45 100
37.5 95-100 100
26.5 63-93 90-100
19 - 71-95
13.2 55-75 56-80
9.5 - -
4.75 38-54 38-54
2.36 28-42 28-42
1.18 - -
0.6 - -
0.3 7-21 7-21
0.15 - -
0.075 2-8 2-8
Bitumen Content, % Min. 4.0 Min. 4.5

Based on the preceding discussion, problematic DBM Grading 1 should not be used in
flexible pavement.

Bituminous Concrete (BC)

Two gradings of the Bituminous Concrete (BC) have been specified in Section 507 of
the MORTH Specifications (2013). According to MORTH, BC can be used for
wearing and profile corrective courses. Grading 1 has a NMAS of 19 mm and
Grading 2 has a NMAS of 13 mm.

As discussed earlier, DBM Grading 2 was selected as base course. Now, there is a
need to select a binder course and two wearing (surface) course. BC Grading 1 with a
NMAS of 19 mm is suitable for a binder course because by definition it binds the base
course (NMAS of 25 mm) and the wearing course (NMAS of 13 mm) with an
intermediate (transition) NMAS of 19 mm. BC Grading 2 with a NMAS of 13 mm is
suitable for a wearing course. Therefore, BC Grading 1 should be renamed as a binder
course and used as such in the pavement design in lieu of the upper lift of DBM. This
conforms to general practice in developed countries.

There is a need to add a new BC gradation with a NMAS of 9.5 mm, which can be
used for light to medium traffic, and in urban areas to provide smooth and highly
impermeable and durable bituminous road surface. BC Grading 3 is also suitable for
thin asphalt lifts and should be preferred over BC Grading 2. This BC gradation with
a NMAS of 9.5 mm is being used successfully across the US even on interstate
(national) highways. Such a gradation was proposed in the IRC paper by Kandhal,
Sinha and Veeraragavan (2). All three BC gradations are shown in Table 4.

TABLE 4. AGGREGATE GRADING FOR BITUMINOUS CONCRETE (BC)


GRADINGS 1, 2 AND 3

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SPECIFICATION BC GRADING NUMBER*
Grading 1 2 3

Nominal maximum 19 mm 13.2 mm 9.5 mm


aggregate size
Layer thickness 50 mm 25/40 mm 25/40 mm
IS Sieve size (mm) Percent passing by weight
26.5 100
19 90-100 100
13.2 59-79 90-100 100
9.5 52-72 70-88 90-100
4.75 35-55 53-71 55-75
2.36 28-44 42-58 40-55
1.18 20-34 34-48 29-44
0.6 15-27 26-38 21-33
0.3 10-20 18-28 14-25
0.15 5-13 12-20 7-15
0.075 2-8 4-10 4-7
Bitumen content (min.) 5.2% 5.4% 5.7%
Note: BC Grading 1 should be used as binder course; BC Gradings 2 and 3
should be used for wearing courses. Proposed BC Grading 3 should be
preferred over BC Grading 2 for thin asphalt lifts and city streets.

Premix Carpet (PMC)

Before the premix carpet (PMC) is discussed, a little history is in order. When the first
author was serving as highway engineer in the Rajasthan PWD during early 1960s, it
was very common to use bituminous surface dressing (SD) or chip sealing on most
types of roads. Surface dressing was very effective in water-proofing the WBM roads
because of heavy bitumen application rate followed by chip application. Surface
dressing was scheduled once in 3 or 4 years on all roads. Very few potholes dotted the
roads at that time. Traffic volumes were generally less during that time period. Road
construction was largely manual and hardly mechanized. Bitumen for surface dressing
was applied with perforated tin cans. Spreading the surface aggregate (chips) by hand
was an art learnt through practice, usually by swirling the basket containing
aggregate.

As is usual with surface dressing, chips were dislocated and became loose if the
treated road was opened too soon to traffic or slow speeds were not maintained just
after construction. The finished road surface was not black and therefore not too
appealing to the public.

Too overcome these perceived problems, the premix carpet (PMC) was introduced
with the IRC publishing its specification for the first time in 1962. As mentioned
earlier, road construction was still manual. Single size chips (nominal size 12 mm)
were either broken by labourers by hand or obtained from stone crusher plants (if
available nearby). Hot bitumen was applied as tack coat through perforated tin cans.
The mix containing almost single size aggregate (11.2 mm to 13.2 mm) could easily

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be coated with about 3-3.5% bitumen either by hand on flat pans placed over wooden
log fire; or small drums rotated by hand; or small portable mixing plants. Under such
circumstances graded aggregate could not be used.

The mix was taken in hand carts and spread over tack coated road surface using hand
rakes. After rolling the road surface appeared shining black, no loose stone and
impressive to public unlike surface dressing. It was realized that the PMC was highly
permeable to rainwater due to single size aggregate being used in the mix. Therefore,
the use of sand seal coat was warranted to seal the surface of the open graded mix.
Sand was mixed with about 7% bitumen, applied on the open surface, and rolled.

With the advent of the PMC, surface dressing started to die across India and is almost
non-existent in many states such as Rajasthan. This is ironical that surface dressing is
still being used extensively and successfully on low to medium-trafficked roads in
developed countries such as US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Some
Indian engineers argue that surface dressing is successful in those countries because
the construction (bitumen application and chip spreading) is mechanized there.
However, the engineers can require/mandate bitumen distributors (already available
for tack coat work) and mechanized chip spreaders (being manufactured in Gujarat)
(11).

The PMC has probably served India well for over 50 years especially during the time
mechanization was almost not there. However, due to significant increase in vehicular
traffic and PMCs inherent water-trapping characteristics its service life has decreased
significantly in recent years. Time has come now to think out of the box and consider
surface dressing in lieu of PMC for low to medium-trafficked roads because it is
highly economical (as discussed later) as well as highly effective in water-proofing
the road pavement.

The undesirable water-trapping characteristic of the PMC, which causes potholes due
to increased hydraulic pressure under traffic, is discussed below.

To keep things in perspective, lets compare PMC with open graded asphalt friction
course (OGFC), which is used in developed countries primarily for road safety.
Although OGFC is not used in India, experience with OGFC is applicable to PMC
used in India in certain aspects. Both are highly water permeable (porous) mixes and
are placed 20 mm thick. The OGFC is placed on dense bituminous concrete (similar
to BC Grading 2) to provide a skid resistant wearing surface during rainfall or when
the pavement is wet. The rainwater penetrates the open surface of the OGFC; goes to
its bottom; then flows within 20 mm thick OGFC towards the shoulders; and then
exits from the exposed edge of the OGFC onto shoulders. Since there is no rainwater
on the surface of OGFC there is no hydroplaning or skidding of motor vehicles on its
surface. OGFC is highly permeable to water since it has over 18% air voids (12). The
OGFC is durable despite high air voids because it has about 6% polymer modified
bitumen content, which provides thick bitumen film around the aggregate particles.

The premix carpet (PMC) on the other hand is substantially more open graded and
more porous (permeable to water) than the OGFC because the former uses very
coarse aggregate (nominal size of 11.2 to 13.2 mm). Its air void content is estimated
to be over 25 percent. Although a sand seal coat is provided on the surface of the

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PMC, it is not completely effective in making the PMC waterproof at the surface.
Even if there is a small patch where the PMC has lost its sand seal, the surface water
on the road can penetrate it at that spot, flow side wards like in OGFC, and flood the
entire PMC below the sand seal (Figure 8). The hydraulic pressure induced by traffic
in the water trapped within the PMC below the seal coat is likely to cause stripping
within the PMC and the underlying bituminous course. If the underlying course is
WMM or WBM, it would get saturated and lose its strength especially if it contains
some plastic material.

Figure 8. Surface water entering the premix carpet (PMC) through an unsealed
area saturating it under the seal as well, causing stripping within PMC and the
underlying bituminous course when subjected to traffic loads.

Intrusion of water from the unsealed areas of PMC is analogous to porous 20 mm


OGFC (PMC in our case) overlaid by dense BC which has cracks. Surface water can
penetrate the OGFC through cracks and flood the entire OGFC (Figure 9). The first
author has observed this phenomenon while conducting forensic investigation in
Australia (Figure 10). It was hard to believe the sight of water oozing out of the
OGFC although it had not rained for weeks. That is why; OGFC is always milled off
before placing a dense bituminous surfacing.

Figure 9. Premix carpet (or OGFC) sandwiched between two BC courses can be
saturated with surface water entering through the cracks in the top BC course,
causing stripping in the PMC and adjacent BC courses.

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Figure 10. Free water oozing out of the OGFC sandwiched between two BC
courses. It was observed when a section of the road was cut by cold milling.

The surface water permeability of an in-service PMC was determined recently with a
grease ring method. Although it is simple, crude, falling head water permeability test,
it does give some relative permeability values. A ring about 225 mm in diameter and
about 25 mm high is made on the road surface to be tested using heavy grease. Putty
can also be used in lieu of heavy grease. The ring is filled with water up to a depth of
12.5 mm and timer is started. Time taken by the water to penetrate and disappear from
the road surface is measured in seconds as measure of relative water permeability.

The first test (Fig. 11) was made on PMC without any seal coat. It was not even
possible to fill the ring with water because it was penetrating the PMC as fast as it
was poured. On filling rapidly, water penetrated fully in about 5 seconds. The second
test (Fig. 12) was made on PMC with moderate amount of sand seal coat. The
measured field permeability was 105 seconds. The third test (Fig. 13) was made on
PMC with adequate amount of sand seal coat. The measured field permeability was
545 seconds. It is not uncommon to see non-uniform application of sand seal coat on
PMC because it is usually spread manually (Fig. 14). It is a matter of great concern.
During a similar test on BC wearing course, water remained at 12.5 mm level for
hours and therefore the field water permeability was almost zero (Fig. 15).

Fig. 11. Field permeability of PMC without any sand seal coat

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Fig. 12. Field permeability of PMC with moderate sand seal coat

Fig. 13. Field permeability of PMC with adequate sand seal coat

Fig. 14. PMC surface with non-uniform application of sand seal coat

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Fig. 15. Field permeability of BC Grading 2

Fig. 16. Steel ring used for field permeability test

More field permeability test data have been obtained by students at Rasta, Bangalore;
IIT Guwahati; MNIT, Jaipur; and Kautilya College of Engineering, Jaipur. A steel
ring (Figure 16) rather than grease or putty ring was used to expedite testing. Unlike
BC, test data has indicated a very wide range of water permeability from very high
permeability (60 seconds) to almost none. As mentioned earlier, it appears to be a
function of variability in sand seal coat application in terms of its quality, its quantity
and its mode of application. Practically, it is not possible to apply consistent and
adequate amount of sand seal coat throughout a PMC project.

Recent investigations by IIT Guwahati have also shown PMC to be highly permeable
to water (13).

It is quite evident from the preceding field experiments that generally the PMC with
sand seal coat would easily take in and trap water during rains in many cases. Once
the PMC is saturated with water, the hydraulic pressure resulting from traffic above

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can loosen up the sand seal in other areas of the PMC. This phenomenon has been
observed on Jaipur streets (Figure 17). As already mentioned, the hydraulic pressure
also causes stripping in the PMC as well as in the underlying bituminous courses.
That is why; PMC deteriorates rather rapidly during monsoons especially in towns
and cities where streets usually get flooded. The average life of PMC in Jaipur is
about 1-2 years. Its bitumen content is about 3.5 percent.

Figure 17. Failure of premix carpet (PMC) during the first monsoon within
Jaipur city

Obviously, there are cases where PMC with good, uniform sand seal coat and/or very
dry climate has endured well. However, fundamentally the question is why to place a
highly porous bituminous mix like PMC in the first place and then try to seal it. There
is no available data as to what depth, if any; the estimated 6 mm thick sand seal coat
really penetrates the 20 mm thick PMC when rolled.

There are numerous other questions related to PMC which need to be answered: total
air voids in PMC; absolute volume of sand seal coat; unfilled voids in PMC; depth of
sand seal penetration in PMC; etc. etc. It is surprising to note as to why no such
research was conducted in India for the last 60 years to answer these legitimate
questions. On the other hand, hundreds of research papers have been published across
the world in case of surface dressing in terms of its rational design, construction and
performance. How come hardly any research has been conducted in India where PMC
is used, especially on its structure, volumetrics, performance and durability? It
appears there is conventional wisdom only that PMC does work and is good for
India and therefore there is no need for any research on it.

No published data on average life of PMC in India could be found in the literature
either. Some PMGSY engineers revealed its average life to be 2 years without
significant distress such as ravelling and potholes. This is not acceptable.

If the PMC is a panacea for low to medium trafficked roads in India, why this
technology is not used in developed countries? However, that would require

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fundamental, sound engineering justification which is almost non-existent and hard to
come by in case of the PMC.

Therefore, time has come now to ban the PMC altogether because its continued use
cannot be justified technically as well as economically anywhere; be it city streets,
low volume roads (such as PMGSY), or medium to high volume roads.

So what are the alternatives for PMC in India? The discussion follows.

For low to medium-trafficked roads where PMC is used right now, use single or
double surface treatment. If black road surface is desirable for surface dressing to
impress motoring public as well as minimize chip loss, precoated chips can be used.
It should be noted all these alternatives are much cheaper than the PMC as shown in
Table 5. Note that the cost of single coat surface dressing is only 1/3 of the cost of
PMC. It is not understood as to why it cannot be used on low volume roads such as
PMGSY; that would save India thousands of crores of rupees every year. Even if
double surface dressing with precoated chips is used, its cost is only three-fourth (3/4)
of the cost of PMC.

Table 5. Comparison of Costs for PMC and Recommended Alternates (base year
2013)

No. Option Cost per sq m in Cost per km lane


rupees in rupees
1 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat 210 7.88 lacs
2 25 mm BC Grading 2 205 7.69 lacs
3 Surface dressing, single 70 2.62 lacs
application with VG-10, nominal
chip size 13.2 mm, mechanical
means
4 Surface dressing, single 79 2.96 lacs
application with VG-10, nominal
chip size 13.2 mm, mechanical
means with precoated chips
5 Surface dressing, double 140 5.24 lacs
application with VG-10, chip size
13.2 mm, mechanical means
6 Surface dressing, double 149 5.58 lacs
application with VG-10, chip size
13.2 mm, mechanical means with
precoated chips
7 40 mm BC Grading 2 320 12.00 lacs
Notes: All options except surface dressing include one tack coat. Precoated chips
coated with 1% VG-10 costs Rupees 1,107 per cu m. In case of double surface
dressing, only top application used precoated chips. Lane width = 3.75 m

Pandey and his associates have made the following observation recently, While a
wearing course of surface dressing has been known for its durability all over the
world on low volume roads, the wearing course of premix carpet and seal coat is very
common in India though frequent pothole repair and patching well within five years

17
of construction are not uncommonThe thick film of bitumen in the surface dressing
oxidises slowly and retains flexibility for a longer period. (14).

Section 7.3.3 on Type of Bituminous Surfacing of IRC:SP:72-2007, Design of


Flexible Pavements for Low Volume Rural Roads (15) states the following. For the
low volume rural roads, when a bituminous surfacing needs to be provided, two
alternatives viz, Surface Dressing and 20 mm Premix Carpet are generally available.
The recently revised and vastly improved IRC Specifications for Surface Dressing
(16) adopt the concept of Average Least Dimension (ALD) of stone chips and take
into account, the factors of traffic, climate and type of chipping. A standardised chart
is used for the determination of design binder content and chipping application rate.
The adoption of the revised IRC specifications makes Surface Dressing both suitable
and economical for low traffic volume conditions, as borne out by its popularity in
several countries abroad.

The Indian Roads Congress has a very good standard specification for surface
dressing; it should replace the PMC as soon as possible.

Besides significantly lower construction cost, surface dressing offers the following
functional advantages compared to PMC (11):

1. Excellent sealing of road surface, which does not allow ingress of rainwater
into the lower layers thus resulting in a durable pavement
2. Minimizes oxidation of bitumen because it exists in thick film and stone chips
provide protection from sun rays
3. Higher resistance to skidding which reduces accident hazards
4. Retards reflection cracking because of flexible behaviour
5. Environmental friendly because chips need not be heated

Obviously, the highway agencies have to mandate the use of mechanized bitumen
distributor and chip spreader, which are already available in India, to ensure the
functional success of surface dressing.

For medium to heavy-trafficked roads and city roads, use BC Grading 2 in lieu of the
PMC. Although it is permissible to lay BC Grading 2 in 25-40 mm depth according to
IRC:111- 2009 (17), it is preferable to use 40 mm depth to ensure adequate
compaction during construction (thin lifts cool rapidly). It is ironical that the cost of
25 mm BC Grading 2 is lower than the cost of PMC (Table 5).

Although the initial cost of 40 mm BC Grading 2 is about 50% more than the cost of
20 mm PMC, BC Grading 2 is actually 24.1% cheaper than the PMC based on life
cycle cost analysis (LCCA) given in Annexure. This is a very conservative analysis in
that the remaining service life, salvage value, maintenance expenses, and user
operating costs were not even considered, which all favour BC. Therefore, savings
will be much more than 24.1 percent. More importantly, BC Grading 2 provides
significant structural strength to the road pavement for future traffic growth whereas
PMC has almost zero structural strength to offer (18).

Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS)

18
The Indian Roads Congress adopted the Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS) specification
IRC:SP:78-2008 (19) probably as an alternate to the PMC; both are applied in 20 mm
thickness. Since hot mix asphalt plants are now widely available across India, it was
considered practical and easy to adopt a hot mix which would encompass or
incorporate both the PMC and the sand seal in one mix rather than two different
applications. This would also reduce cost of construction. As shown in Table 6, two
gradations are specified for MSS: one is closed gradation (Type A with NMAS of
9.5 mm) and the other is open gradation (Type B with NMAS of 9.5 mm or 12.5
mm). Since the closed graded mix has NMAS of 9.5 mm it can be placed in 20 mm
thick course similar to PMC. Both are recipe type mixes with no mix design
requirements such as Marshall required for BC.

TABLE 6. AGGREGATE GRADINGS FOR MIX SEAL SURFACING


IS Sieve size, mm Type A Type B
% Passing by weight % Passing by weight
13.2 --- 100
11.2 100 88-100
5.6 52-88 31-52
2.8 14-38 5-25
0.090 0-5 0-5

Both MSS mixes are not really dense graded mixes similar to BC Grading 2. Recent
research conducted by IIT Guwahati (13) has demonstrated MSS is highly permeable
to water compared with BC mixes. The question is: why not adopt well designed
dense graded BC Grading 3 with NMAS of 9.5 mm proposed earlier under BC to
achieve the same purpose? Gradations of BC Grading 2 and proposed BC Grading 3
are included in Table 4 for comparison. That would ensure an almost impermeable
and durable mix, also designed with the Marshall Method. Grading 3 is even used as a
wearing course on US interstate (national) highways with satisfactory performance.

Therefore, MSS should be replaced with a more densely graded, and more durable BC
Grading 3.

Built-up Spray Grout (BUSG)

Built-up Spray Grout (BUSG) has been recommended as a base course for flexible
pavements. It is not a bituminous mix; rather a two-layer composite construction of
compacted, almost singe sized crushed aggregates with application of hot bitumen
after each layer. Single sized key aggregate is then applied at the top. Obviously, this
type of bituminous construction is highly permeable because the sprayed bitumen
does not fill the voids in the coarse aggregate adequately. Therefore, this type of
construction is considered water trapping. This has been proven from the fact that
potholes repaired with BUSG technique quite often reappear in a year or two.

Therefore, BUSG should not be used at all in India. Although BUSG has been rightly
deleted from recently revised 2013 MORTH Specification (10), it is still used by
some highway agencies.

19
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING RIDE QUALITY PROGRAMME
(IRQP)

Improving Ride Quality Programme (IRQP) is practiced across India for the implied
purpose. As mentioned earlier, MORTH issued revised guidelines for IRQP for
national highway stretches in September 2002 (1). The guidelines are also used by the
state highway agencies for roads other than national highways with all kinds of
variations as noted from NITs published in newspapers. Table 7 gives various options
for IRQP along with costs based on 2013 Rajasthan PWD Basic Schedule of Rates
(BSR). The first seven options are listed in the MORTH circular of September 2002.
Options 8 and 9 have been used by some states. Option 10 has been proposed in this
paper in lieu of Options 1 through 9 as discussed later.

Based on the preceding detailed technical discussion, BM, SDBC, PMC, MSS and
BUSG should be deleted from the Indian Specifications (both MORTH and IRC) and
therefore should be excluded from Table 7. Use of WMM (see options 1, 2, 3, and 4
in Table 7) is not advised if IRQP is being conducted on an existing road consisting of
bituminous course because that would mean abandoning its structural contribution (in
terms of tensile strength) to the rehabilitated pavement system.

Table 7. Comparison of Costs for Various Options in Improving Ride Quality


Programme (IRQP)

No. Option Cost per sq m Cost per km-lane


in rupees in rupees
1 225 mm WMM + 20 mm PMC with sand 541.34 20.30 lacs
seal coat
2 225 mm WMM + 20 mm MSS 511.34 19.18 lacs
3 150 mm WMM + 20 mm PMC with sand 446.22 16.73 lacs
seal coat
4 150 mm WMM + 20 mm MSS 416.22 15.61 lacs
5 75 mm BUSG + 25 mm SDBC 461.00 17.29 lacs
6 50 mm BM + 25 mm SDBC 521.50 19.56 lacs
7 75 mm BM + 25 mm SDBC 684.25 25.66 lacs
8 50 mm BM + 20 mm MSS 518.50 19.44 lacs
9 50 mm BM + 20 mm PMC with sand seal 561.50 21.06 lacs
coat
10 60 mm BC Grading 2 in two applications: 525.20 19.70 lacs
20 mm (average) Scratch or leveling
course + 40 mm wearing course
Notes: All options except BUSG include two tack coats. Lane width = 3.75 m

Therefore, Option 10 consisting of 60 mm BC Grading 2 in two applications: 20 mm


(average) scratch or leveling course applied with a paver to fill depressions followed
by 40 mm uniform thick wearing course in recommended. In developed countries,

20
dense graded wearing course mix is used for leveling for practical purposes and also
for ease in feathering of mat thickness. It also provides a dense wearing course. Both
leveling and wearing courses provide highest structural strength to the pavement
compared to the first nine options.

Cost of Option 10 is very comparable to the other 9 options listed in Table 7 even
without considering life-cycle costs. More importantly, Option 10 is also considered
most durable and would therefore revolutionize the conditions of roads across India.
There are hardly any logical technical and economic reasons to use Options 1 through
9 in lieu of Option 10. If so warranted for the ride quality and/or pavement design, the
thickness of BC Grading 2 scratch or leveling course can be increased from 20 mm to
30 mm in Option 10.

MORTH Circular also recommends use of CRMB or PMB in bituminous mixes used
for IRQP. Whereas PMB with elastomers is acceptable and should be used in courses
within 100-150 mm from the road surface; CRMB should not be used because of its
inadequate specifications and lack of quality control in the field (20,21).

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PERIDICAL RENEWAL (PR)

Periodical Renewal (PR) is also practiced across India for the implied purpose.
MORTH also issued revised guidelines for PR for national highway stretches in
September 2002 (1). Again, the guidelines are also used by the state highway agencies
for roads other than national highways with all kinds of odd variations as noted from
NITs published in newspapers. Options 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Table 8 are listed in the
MORTH guidelines circular along with costs based on 2013 Rajasthan PWD Basic
Schedule of Rates (BSR).

Based on the preceding detailed technical discussion, problematic SDBC, PMC, and
MSS should be deleted from the Indian Specifications (MORTH and IRC) and
therefore should not be used for PR as well.

As mentioned earlier, single or double surface dressing with or without precoated


chips (Options 5, 6, 7, and 8 in Table 8) should be used for low to medium trafficked
roads. Surface dressing would really waterproof the pavement structure compared to
PMC and MSS. It is unbelievable to note that the cost of PMC is about three times the
cost of singe surface dressing. Even double surface dressing with precoated chips is
much cheaper than the PMC. It should be noted that surface dressing is used world
wide with high degree of success. PMC is used only in India despite its high costs and
unacceptable durability.

For medium to heavy trafficked roads, BC Grading 2 listed as Option 9 should be


used. Although the cost of 25 mm BC Grading 2 (NMAS of 12.5 mm) is comparable
to problematic SDBC, PMC and MSS, it would be better to use BC Grading 3
(NMAS of 9.5 mm) to facilitate thin lift paving. However, thin lifts do cool rapidly
and it is difficult to obtain adequate compaction. Therefore, use of 40 mm BC
Grading 2 should also be considered in terms of constructability, structural strength,
longevity, and lower life cycle costs. Budget constraints are unfairly used often to
justify use of undesirable bituminous mixes/applications.

21
MORTH Circular also recommends use of CRMB or PMB in bituminous mixes used
for PR. Whereas PMB with elastomers is acceptable and should be used; CRMB
should not be used as explained earlier.

Table 8. Comparison of Various Options for Bituminous Periodical Renewal


(PR) with Costs

No. Option Cost per sq m in Cost per km lane in


rupees rupees
1 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat 210 7.88 lacs
2 20 mm MSS 180 6.75 lacs
3 25 mm SDBC 183 6.86 lacs
4 25 mm BC Grading 2 205 7.69 lacs
5 Surface dressing, single 70 2.62 lacs
application with VG-10, nominal
chip size 13.2 mm, mechanical
means
6 Surface dressing, single 79 2.96 lacs
application with VG-10, nominal
chip size 13.2 mm, mechanical
means with precoated chips
7 Surface dressing, double 140 5.24 lacs
application with VG-10, chip size
13.2 mm, mechanical means
8 Surface dressing, double 149 5.58 lacs
application with VG-10, chip size
13.2 mm, mechanical means with
precoated chips
9 40 mm BC Grading 2 320 12.00 lacs

Notes: All options except surface dressing include one tack coat. Precoated chips
coated with 1% VG-10 costs Rupees 1,107 per cu m. In case of double surface
dressing, only top application used precoated chips. Lane width = 3.75 m

MAIN CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Of some ten types of bituminous paving mixes used in India, seven are open graded
(water-trapping) mixes. Examples: Bituminous Macadam (BM) Gradings 1 and 2;
Semi Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC) Gradings 1 and 2; Dense Bituminous
Macadam (DBM) Grading 1; Premix Carpet (PMC); and Mixed Seal Surfacing
(MSS). The Built-Up Spray Grout (BUSG) is no different. Their use generally results
in poor performing roads in India. The remaining three are dense graded (and
therefore desirable) mixes. These are: Dense Bituminous Macadam (DBM) Grading
2; Bituminous Concrete (BC) Grading 1; and Bituminous Concrete (BC) Grading 2.

Therefore, these seven bituminous mixes should not be used in Improving Ride
Quality Programme (IRQP), and in Periodical Renewal (PR) programme. Detailed
guidelines have been given in this paper for selection of acceptable bituminous

22
mixes/applications based on durability and economics in case of IRQP and PR. They
are given briefly as follows:

Improving Ride Quality Programme (IRQP). Do not use WMM if the existing
road consists of bituminous course(s). Use 60 mm BC Grading 2 in two applications:
20 mm (average) scratch or leveling course (with a paver) followed by a 40 mm
wearing course. The thickness of the scratch or leveling course can be increased from
20 mm to 30 mm if so required. Of all the options given in MORTH guidelines
circular this is not only economical but would also result in a highly strong, durable,
and smooth road pavement.

Periodical Renewal. Single or double surface dressing with or without precoated


chips should be used for low to medium trafficked roads. Surface dressing would
really waterproof the pavement structure compared to PMC and MSS. The cost of
PMC is about three times the cost of single surface dressing. Even double surface
dressing with precoated chips is much cheaper than the PMC. It should be noted that
surface dressing is used world wide with high success. PMC is used only in India
despite lack of research on it, its high costs, its generally high permeability, and its
unacceptable durability.

For medium to heavy trafficked roads and city streets, BC Grading 2 should be used.
Proposed BC Grading 3 (NMAS of 9.5 mm) can be considered for thin lift paving.
However, thin lifts do cool rapidly and it is difficult to obtain adequate compaction.
Therefore, use of 40 mm BC Grading 2 should also be considered in terms of
constructability, structural strength, longevity, and lower life cycle costs.

The preceding recommendations have the potential to obtain more durable flexible
pavements in rural and urban India regardless of traffic intensity.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Valuable comments/suggestions given by Dr. Mittar Dhir, former Director of Central


Road Research Institute (CRRI), R.S. Shukla, former Head, Flexible Pavement
Division of CRRI; Prof. A.N. Arora, Kautilya College of Engineering, Jaipur; Kirori
Mal Modi, Paving Contractor; and Sanjay Garg, MORTH are acknowledged.

REFERENCES

1. MORTH. Revised Guidelines for Selection of National Highway Stretches for


Improving Ride Quality Programme (IRQP) and Periodic Renewals (PR). Circular
No. RW/NH-33044/10/2000-S&R dated 26 September 2002.

2. Kandhal, P.S., V.K. Sinha and A. Veeraragavan. A Critical Review of Bituminous


Mixes Used in India. Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Volume 69-2, July-
September 2008.

23
3. Kandhal, P.S., A. Veeraragavan, and R.K. Jain. Guidelines for Long Lasting
Bituminous Pavements. Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Volume 71-3, 2010.

4. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. Manual for Construction and Supervision
of Flexible Pavement Works. Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi, November 2001.

5. Kandhal, P.S. Moisture Susceptibility of HMA Mixes: Identification of Problem


and Recommended Solutions. National Asphalt Pavement Association, Quality
Improvement Publication (QIP) No. 119, December 1992.

6. Kandhal, P.S., C.W. Lubold, and F.L. Roberts. Water Damage to Asphalt Overlays:
Case Histories. Proceedings, Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, Vol. 58,
l989.

7. Roberts, F.L., P.S. Kandhal, E.R. Brown, D.Y. Lee, and T.W. Kennedy. Hot Mix
Asphalt Materials, Mixture Design and Construction. NCAT Textbook, NAPA
Education Foundation, Lanham, Maryland, Second Edition, 1996.

8. Central Road Research Institute. Investigation of NH-91 in Uttar Pradesh. Indian


Roads Congress, Report on Road Research in India, 2008.

9. Terrel, R. L. and J. W. Shute. Summary Report on Water Sensitivity. SHRP Report


SHRP-A/IR-89-003, November 1989.

10. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. Specifications for Road and Bridge
Works, Fifth Revision, 2013, Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi.

11. Government of Gujarat. Roads and Buildings Department. Surface Dressing: An


Effective But Inexpensive Maintenance Technique. Accessed at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/94645292/12-Final-Surface-Dressing-Rawal-Gujarat on
23 June 2014.

12. Kandhal, P.S. Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Open-Graded Asphalt


Friction Courses. National Asphalt Pavement Association Information Series 115,
May 2002.

13. Choudhary, Rajan, S.K. Singh, A. Kumar, and S.S. Porwal. Permeability
Characteristics of Bituminous Premix Carpet and Mixed Seal Surfacing. Journal of
the Indian Roads Congress. Volume 77-2, July-September 2016.

14. Saboo, N., M.A. Reddy and B.B. Pandey. Durable Wearing Course for
Bituminous Pavements. Indian Roads Congress, Indian Highways, May 2014.

15. Indian Roads Congress. Guidelines for the Design of Flexible Pavements for Low
Volume Rural Roads. IRC:SP:72-2007

16. Indian Roads Congress. Standard Specifications and Code of Practice for Design
and Construction of Surface Dressing. IRC: 110 -2005.

24
17. Indian Roads Congress. Specifications for Dense Graded Bituminous Mixes.
IRC:111-2009.

18. Kandhal, P.S. Bituminous Road Construction in India. Textbook cum Reference
Book. Prentice Hall of India. New Delhi, July 2016.

19. Indian Roads Congress. Specifications for Mixed Seal Surfacing (MSS).
IRC:SP:78-2008.

20. Kandhal, P. S. Quality Control Requirements for Using Crumb Rubber Modified
Bitumen (CRMB). Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Volume 67-1, April-June
2006.

21. Kandhal, P.S. and M.P. Dhir. Use of Modified Binders in India: Current
Imperatives. Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Volume 72-3, October-
December 2011.

ANNEXURE

Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) of Premix Carpet (PMC) and Bituminous
Concrete (BC) Grading 2

Analysis period = 6 years


Assumptions:
Average life of 20 mm PMC with sand seal coat = 3 years (real 2 years)
Average life of 40 mm BC Grading 2 = 6 years (real 7-8 years)
[This means 20 mm PMC will be required for rehabilitation of the pavement
after 3 years.]
Cost of 20 mm PMC per km lane = 7.88 lacs
Cost of 40 mm BC Grading 2 per km lane = 12.00 lacs
Real discount rate = 4%
Net present value (NPV) = Initial cost + Rehab cost (1/(1+r)n)
Salvage value considered equal after the 6 years analysis period (although BC
would have a significantly higher structural strength whereas PMC strength is
almost zero)
Remaining service life after analysis period of 6 years considered equal
(although BC would have more service life because it is dense graded)
No maintenance activity considered during 6 years period (although PMC is
likely to require some activity)
User operating costs considered equal (although BC would provide a smoother
ride and less operating costs)

Deterministic Approach was used for LCCA, which is easy and is used
traditionally. The Net Present Value (NPV) was calculated for PMC and BC for
the 6-year period as follows:

NPV of PMC = 14.89 lacs


NPV of BC Grading 2 = 12.00 lacs

25
This means, PMC is 24.1% more expensive than BC Grading 2.

If the remaining service life, salvage value, maintenance costs, and user operating
costs are considered (which all are in favour of BC), PMC would be much more
expensive than 24.1 percent, which was calculated with very conservative
assumptions listed above.

************************************

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