Although the technical know-how is in place to ensure the durability of our roads, a severe paucity of funds prevents the government from embracing this know-how to the hilt. Although the method currently followed by KSTP is deemed best, there are not many takers for this method due to the cost factor.
The methodology used by KSTP ensures that water does not come into contact with road metal even during heavy rains. “Road surfaces are damaged when the road metal absorbs water thereby losing its binding capacity with the tar. The entire foundation of the road is removed initially. Then the soil surface undergoes multiple processes of compaction. When we use our technology, a layer of wet mix macadam is paved on the surface before laying the bituminous macadam course. The top surface of the road is coated with bituminous concrete (BC). While the layer of wet mix macadam prevents permeation of water from the soil, the top coating of BC shields the road metal from moisture,”said KSTP project director Joseph Mathew. “The thickness of each layer depends on the volume of traffic, load bearing requirements and the availability of fund. Re-coating of the top BC layer will be required as it would deplete with the passage of vehicles in course of time,” he added.
At the same time, there is an urgent need to put in place an effective drainage mechanism to ensure the durability of roads. Natpac (National Transportation Planning and Research Centre) senior scientist Tomy Cyriac said: “Observing the good condition of roads built by the KSTP over the years, it appears that the same technology could be adopted to construct roads across the state. However, the setting up of drainage system and its effective maintenance are equally important.” The majority of the roads in the state lack proper side drains, Cyriac noted. “Even if there is one, it would not be maintained properly. Whenever it rains, these roads would turn into streams damaging the road surface. In countries like Malaysia, where it rains almost every day, they give utmost importance to proper maintenance of the drainage system,” he added. The Thodupuzha- Moovattupuzha- Angamali stretch completed by the KSTP in 2003 at a cost of Rs 2 crore per kilometre is still in a good condition. The Venjaramoodu- Kilamanoor-Nilamel stretch of the Thiruvananthapuram- Chengannoor MC Road completed in 2007 is also in good condition.