The layer of asphalt laid on two of the most important motorways of the Quebec meets the standards of the ministry of Transport… but this is because these standards are not sufficiently demanding, according to one of the greatest experts in the field.
In the last few months, our Office of investigation has engaged a team of the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal to analyze three samples of asphalt. The objective was to understand why our roads are often in a pitiful state.
These samples came from the work done last summer on highway 20 west in the Montérégie region, on highway 10 in the eastern Townships, and in the entrance to a building to condominiums.
The results demonstrate that the asphalt, or the asphalt, which met the standards, but no more.
“Overall, these are coated and are correct. Is it that they are coated exceptional ? No. Is it that they are coated bad ? No more, ” said professor Alan Carter, who has steered the analyses conducted last fall.
Raising the bar
Depending on which is one of the leading experts in the composition of the asphalt in Québec, there is a way to make it better. Certain requirements of the department could be reviewed.
“The criteria may be increased, but you have to be sure to increase the right criteria,” he says.
The expert gives the example of some kinds of asphalt designed to be applied as a thin layer on the surface, but are sometimes used to enhance the pavement structure and are applied in layers that are too thick.
The other major problem, according to him, is the basis of the road on which is applied the layer of asphalt.
“I’m doing the best that I can, if it is not supported on something totally done it well, well solid, it doesn’t change anything,” he says.
A glaring example of this problem is the section of the autoroute 30 between autoroute 20 and Sorel-Tracy, built on a bad base.
It is one of the worst sections of motorways in Quebec. The repair work must regularly be made to patch up the holes.
Errors in the mixtures
The laboratory of construction engineering, directed by Alan Carter analysis each year hundreds of samples. We test their resistance to heat, cracking and rutting caused by the passage of vehicles. Most of the samples are consistent, but others do not have the right composition.
“Errors at the level of the mixtures, it happens like in anything,” he says.
If this can have a positive effect on the durability of the asphalt mix, other errors may have serious consequences.
“If this is not the smooth asphalt that has been placed inside, it could be cracking more quickly, for example “, says the professor.
Repair the good roads before those that are finished
To ensure that they put the money in the right place in the road, the professor, Alan Carter offers a solution that is surprising. It is necessary to repair the roads that are still in good state before those that are finished.
“The road to be rehabilitated in the first, it is not the one that is broken, it is the one that does not have large-thing. Because fix what is not broken is often a good idea that costs less and makes sure that it will last a long time, ” he says.
According to him, it is better to delay a year to work on a road in poor condition to prioritize those that can be saved by performing a minor maintenance. Work on a road in very poor condition will often be more expensive since it is necessary to redo the entire structure under the asphalt layer.
He admits, however, that this proposal is not necessarily popular and is fraught with other considerations, be they political or financial.
The quebec network is also very taxing for the small population in the province.
“We need to put a lot of money per person to maintain this network, it is mathematical, it is quite simple,” he says, comparing the situation with that of our neighbours, who often have a greater concentration of population.