Life Cycle of a Paved Street

Wouldn’t it be nice if our streets, roads and highways would last forever?

As with all things, they deteriorate and decay. The average arterial street in Amarillo will last approximately 25-30 years from the day it is built if no maintenance is preformed to extend the pavement life. Sort of like the engine in you car… How long would your engine last if you never changed the oil, filters or spark plugs? The important thing to understand is that if you want the best return on your investment, you need to provide a certain level of maintenance to receive a reasonable amount of time to enjoy your investment.

Why Does Pavement Deteriorate?

Failure will eventually occur anywhere water can seep into or under the asphalt pavement. This is because the base course and sub-grade are weaker when they are wet. The more frequent or heavier the traffic loads on a weakened pavement, the quicker it will deteriorate and the more severe the damage will be. The primary activities involved in pavement maintenance are directed at stopping water from getting into the supporting structural material under the asphalt pavement (the base course and sub-grade).

Pavement “Life-Cycle” Expenses

The graph above simulates the condition (PCI – Pavement Condition Index) of a paved street over a twenty-year period. The maintenance activities to rejuvenate the pavement while it’s condition is in “good or fair” condition are much cheaper than waiting until the pavement is too far gone for maintenance and requires the street to be rebuilt. Not only will the life of the road be extended by the maintenance activities, but the “ride quality” of the road will be extended as well.