Sunday, October 28, 2007

What is wrong with roads here?

What is wrong with roads here?
Bangalore roads need a major overhaul yet again. Why? The BBMP blames it on torrential rain and growing traffic. The civic body has sought citizens' cooperation saying it will resume repair work only if there is no rain within a week. But the question is: Why do we need to asphalt roads after every heavy shower? Why is the quality of work so pathetic? When will the BBMP wake up to scientific redesigning of roads? It does not need to go far — the 19 IT/BT roads are a shining example of how roads remain in excellent condition even after two monsoons. Why is the BBMP not learning from that experience? Prathima Nandakumar finds out

Many of us have travelled to New Delhi, Singapore, Tokyo, London and other cities. Have we seen potholed roads being relaid after every spell of heavy rainfall? However, Bangalore defies conventional wisdom that roads are laid to last for years, and not for just one shower. The story keeps repeating every year and nothing seems to change. Why?
The reason is simple — lack of integrated planning, poor quality of material and workmanship, and lack of preventive maintenance. We wonder why the BBMP is not aware of the same.
Two years ago when the industry threatened to boycott Bangalore, the government set up an empowered committee which took up some major
road projects, including 19 so-called IT/BT roads. These stretches have withstood two monsoons and are still in excellent condition. A good example would be Indiranagar 80 Feet Road, which was part of these 19 roads and continues to be in excellent condition, versus Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, which is a standard BBMP road.
How was this achieved?
Let us look at integrated planning. Asphalting to BBMP means putting a thin layer of asphalt, which disappears in the next rain. A road without working drains will not last. BBMP should include provision/cleaning of shoulder and tertiary drains and repair of kerb-stones and footpaths as part of road asphalting to ensure that no waterlogging happens. This will enhance the life of the road manifold. All 19 roads had this aspect of integrated planning covered with drains and concrete footpaths laid before asphalting was taken up.
A 50 mm layer of bituminous macadam with a top layer of 40 mm of bituminous concrete was used for the 19 roads.
High quality of bitumen (60/70 grade as opposed to the usual 80/100 grade) was used, which is more viscous and ideally suited for the trafficheavy roads. A temperature of 140o C was maintained while laying the road. Rolling and compaction was completed before temperature dipped to 1000 C. A computer-controlled batch mixing plant was used as opposed to the common practice of drum mixing. Asphalt laying was done at night to give sufficient time for compaction and setting.
Quality control
A third-party quality control consultant was appointed to monitor the quality of material and workmanship. Payment was made to the contractor only after a satisfactory quality report was submitted by the consultant.
It was decided at the empowered committee meetings that these specification and quality control mechanism would become a standard procedure for all BBMP work. We wonder if this is the case in reality.
The BBMP recently issued an appeal requesting citizens to wait till rain stops so that they can fill potholes or relay the roads. It would be really nice if the civic body followed the above practice to build quality roads, thus saving itself the trouble of appealing for people's patience.
Funded by the World Bank
40 roads identified
11 completed Total length of roads: 130 km Cost: Rs 177.7 crore
ASPHALTING Package 1: Covering 99 km and costing Rs 130 crore. Completed Package 2: Covering 1,000 km and costing Rs 218 crore. Still on
IT-BT ROADS — Including drainage and concrete footpaths Koramangala, Indiranagar: 14 roads; 26.87 km; Rs 50 crore Central Business District Roads: 17 roads; 24.5 km; Rs 48.5 crore Status: Completed
MAJOR ARTERIAL ROADS Roads proposed for strengthening:
Total length - 170 km; cost - Rs 130 crore
What the rule book says
Two rules are followed when roads are made. For existing ones, the IRC 81 (1981) specifications are followed, while new roads are based on those of IRC 37 (2001). Both determine the thickness, composition, soil condition, volume of traffic before laying or relaying the road
Which road needs face-lift?
Of the 4,000 km of roads in the city, which one needs immediate attention? The BBMP maintains a score card with 0 to 5 scales. According to officials, the priority is based on assessment of the condition of footpath, drainage system and volume of traffic.
Layering of roads
Most roads designed in cities have four layers — subgrade (consisting of soil, plastic), wet mix macadam, bitumen macadam and bituminous concrete. Layering of roads is also in variants depending on rainfall intensity, soil condition and pavement temperature


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