A roadmap for how we prepare for paving season
Our public works department cares for over 900 kilometres of roadway and 190 kilometres of sidewalk across the municipality.
That keeps District crews and contractors busy, especially during the paving season in spring and summer. Properly maintaining infrastructure keeps our streets safe and accessible for cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, commercial vehicles and public transit. It also saves money in the long term by extending the life of our roadways.
We have roughly 11 kilometres of repairs planned this paving season, the equivalent of almost 14 Canadian football fields. So how do we decide which roads to fix and when to do the work?
Is there an app for that?
Not quite. In contrast to our culvert management app, we use pavement management software to analyze our road network so our maintenance decisions are aligned with asset management best practices. Every year, this data plus visual inspections are used to determine the highest-priority projects for the annual paving program.
Also, every three years, a consultant collects Pavement Condition Index (PCI) data, which provides a “real-time” condition rating for each road segment. We use this rating to help also guide our decision-making.
“Many factors are considered when creating our yearly road rehabilitation program. We take maintaining the District road infrastructure in a cost-effective manner very seriously,” says Mike Clarke, section manager, Construction and Survey.
The District does its best to minimize traffic and neighbourhood inconvenience by:
- Repairing roads near schools during the summer break
- Preparing the most effective traffic management plan
- Coordinating with Coast Mountain to minimize transit disruptions
- Keeping affected residents informed about projects
Why do we fix roads that may look fine?
Some roads that we resurface may seem in good condition and even offer a smooth ride, but they have hidden cracking and distress.
If these issues are not fixed, the road will continue deteriorating until costly and lengthy full road reconstruction is required.
Grinding off the asphalt surface to provide a new driving surface saves the underlying asphalt and prevents the spread of damage due to water filtration. And therefore prolongs the life cycle of the road.
Sometimes residents point out streets in much worse condition than a road we’re resurfacing and ask why we aren’t doing that road first. It’s a fair question: we are waiting for the right time to repair them.
That means coordinating the paving of these roads with upcoming development, construction or utility upgrades so we spend our budget more effectively and keep disruptions to a minimum.
“We spend countless hours each year coordinating with other internal and external construction projects,” says Clarke.
More sustainable paving
We’ve started using more sustainable paving methods after introducing a pilot study in 2019 using warm-mix asphalt. We found that the new pavement technology reduced emissions without reducing paving quality.
The temperature reduction also reduces the emissions, fumes and odours at the plant and improves the working conditions for crews while paving.
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