If you are responsible for site maintenance at a private development, you may be concerned to see that a series of potholes have formed along an access road. You will need to ensure that these are repaired as soon as possible, of course, but how do they develop in the first place?
Fatigue Cracking in Evidence
Typically, a pothole will only form following the development of surface and subsurface cracks over time. This type of damage may be caused when the hot mix asphalt surface or base starts to move, either due to poor installation, ground conditions or excess weight. Typically, these imperfections will begin underground and gradually rise to the surface to create this form of fatigue cracking. It may then begin to spread out and create a myriad of individual cracks that many people compare to the rough skin of an alligator.
Each of these individual cracks will typically have a sharp edge and will descend for several centimetres. When the cracks become more numerous and start to join together, this can lead to a collapse and the formation of a pothole.
Once alligator cracks have started to form then the surface of the road will be compromised. Moisture will inevitably get into the cracks and cause further degradation, especially if the problem continues to get worse lower down. The pavement will not be able to support the load that it was originally designed for and if subject to heavy vehicles, will rapidly deteriorate. Sooner than later a large network of cracks will begin to develop and the road may become unfit for the purpose.
Effecting a Repair
In an ideal world, you will want to know why fatigue cracking has developed in the first place. You may need to take a core sample to see if the road is still structurally sound or to find out whether moisture below the surface is the major contributor. In the meantime, you should bring in a contractor to repair the potholes as a matter of urgency and before the problem becomes even more acute. They will be able to advise you about the issue and tell you whether the underlying problem is structural or not.
In the future, always be on the lookout for that tell-tale alligator pattern. Once it begins to develop, take action to fill in any potholes and prevent the development of a larger problem.
For more information on pothole repair, reach out to a paving contractor in your area.