2. UDOT News

Good Roads Cost Less

UDOT’s “good roads” strategy is a budget savvy, holistic approach that also helps road users save money.

UDOT maintains thousands of miles of roadway, an investment worth tens of billions of dollars. And while UDOT only has responsibility for 13 percent of all roads in the state, those roads carry a lot of traffic. Using Vehicle Miles Traveled – the measure of the total number of vehicles that travel a specific road segment over a given period of time – sixty-eight percent of the state’s traffic is on roads maintained by UDOT.

Ralph Hilsman of UDOT seals cracks on an asphalt road 

Once built, roads and bridges need regular up-keep in order to serve road user’s needs for the intended length of time. For example, a concrete road is designed to last approximately forty years. Some of the planned maintenance activities for concrete roads include joint sealing, grinding the surface to restore smoothness and repairs to chipped areas.

Asphalt roads are designed to last up to twenty five years. During the life of asphalt roads, thin surface treatments and pothole and crack repair can keep the top in good shape and less susceptible to weather. “Temperature changes from hot to cold really stress the material and break it down,” says UDOT Pavement Maintenance Engineer Gary Kuhl. As asphalt roads reach get older, thicker and more aggressive maintenance surface treatments will be needed.

By applying surface treatments to roads before major damage occurs, UDOT can maintain and preserve our roads at a comparatively low cost.

For each road segment, UDOT engineers develop a pavement preservation plan that takes into account the type of road, the amount of traffic and the expected life of the roadway.  Each surface maintenance treatment is tracked, and the next optimal treatment is planned. When it comes to road maintenance, timing is everything.Applying the right treatment at the right time prevents serious damage. A seriously damaged road will need costly major rehabilitation or full reconstruction sooner than anticipated.

The right maintenance surface treatment now can extend the life of the roadway. This graph shows how dollar for dollar, preservation costs less than rehab or reconstruction.

Good roads cost you less too.

A long term pavement performance study shows the benefits of good roads to road users. Based on a ten percent improvement in ride quality, when roads are smoother, road users consume less gas, produce less air pollution, and sustain less vehicle damage.

New processes in construction and maintenance, such as improving the chemistry of asphalt to make it more durable, are being used. But, keeping pavement in good condition in the first place is still the most effective and least costly way to prevent deterioration and extend pavement life. Over the long haul, good roads cost less for UDOT and taxpayers and road users.

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