An investigation into the reduction of ongoing maintenance costs by sealing fullwidth on two-way, rural roads

Robertson, Samuel (2019) An investigation into the reduction of ongoing maintenance costs by sealing fullwidth on two-way, rural roads. [USQ Project]

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Roads are an essential part of a developed country and provide numerous economic and social benefits, which is why it is vital to ensure road networks are maintained to an expected level of service (Burningham, S & Stankevich, N 2005). However, road construction and maintenance is an expensive exercise, with over $23.8 billion was spent on Australian road infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year alone (BITRE 2017). With an ever-growing population this is placing increasing strain on existing road infrastructure, resulting in greater pressure for road authorities to stretch funding as far as possible (AGRD 2015, Pt 1).

A review of the literature has identified that it is widely claimed that road maintenance can be reduced by sealing the shoulders, however there is no information to quantify just what impact this has. To bridge this gap in the literature, this dissertation investigates the financial feasibility of sealing full width on certain rural roads in an effort to reduce ongoing maintenance costs. It also discusses the other consequences of this treatment as they also play an important role in the final decision.

Using expert knowledge and historic maintenance data from a regional Council in Queensland, a theoretical analysis has been conducted to compare maintenance costs for both sealed and unsealed shoulders over the life expectancy of the road pavement. This analysis attempts to predict if spending additional money upfront to fund a wider seal will save money in the long-term due to reduction in shoulder maintenance.

From the results of the analysis it is confirmed that sealing full width does reduce ongoing maintenance costs in some situations. Potential savings of more than $70,000 per kilometre may be achieved over the 20-year design life of the road by sealing shoulders in particularly high maintenance situations. On the other hand, in very low maintenance situations, it is suggested that having unsealed shoulders may be the most economical design. The findings also indicate approximate timeframes for return on investment for a varying levels of shoulder maintenance. Whilst there are many variables which play a role in road shoulder maintenance, this analysis applies a simplistic approach to predict, as accurately as possible, the effects on maintenance costs by sealing full width. The results of this analysis are intended to assist road authorities in providing effective design and whole-of-life cost strategies when approaching similar situations. By taking these findings on board, this will result in a network with reduced maintenance costs and enable funding to stretch further.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Thorpe, David
Qualification: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Civil)
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2021 04:50
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023 23:06

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