Removing barriers to adopting innovative technology is vital, if industry is to meet the Indian government’s ambitious plans to build nearly 84,000km of roads over the next five years, says Tensar India Business Manager Mangesh Shinde.
In its February 2018 budget, the Indian government announced plans to invest 7 Lac Crores (US$108bn) in highway infrastructure over the next five years, with the aim of driving economic growth across the country.
Going hand-in-hand with this spend is a desire to deliver safe road infrastructure efficiently, with schemes that offer value for money (in terms of both construction and whole life costs) and have minimal environmental impact.
Meeting these targets essentially boils down to mitigating risk – a large proportion of which lies in the ground. It is incredibly difficult to predict every possible situation arising during construction.
However, designing to actual ground conditions can deliver more appropriate solutions, mitigate risks and ultimately add more value. This does not necessarily mean spending more money but requires a change of approach and wider acceptance of ‘alternative’ value engineered designs. Inevitably, design codes and standards lag behind technological advances but in some sectors, they are now many years behind.
Take the use of geosynthetics in road pavement design. While stabilisation geogrids have been used on thousands of road projects around the world for the past three or four decades, particularly for construction over weak and saturated ground, they are often viewed as alternative solutions.
This is despite a wealth of empirical evidence and independently-verified research demonstrating how geogrids mechanically stabilise a road’s aggregate layers, helping to delay early failure of flexible pavements, reducing asphalt rutting and cracking, and thereby preventing moisture and contaminants entering and weakening the structure.
Trafficking capacity of pavements incorporating geogrids can be up to six times greater than traditionally-built pavements, making roads safer, for longer. This improved performance reduces maintenance and repair requirements, reducing disruption to road-users and local residents, and the financial burden on local, regional and central government.
While the use of geogrids will be appropriate in almost every part of India, they can bring particular benefits in the North-East of the country, where 1 Lac Crores of the government’s highways budget will be spent in the next three years alone.
Not only can mechanically-stabilised layers enable roads to be built over the region’s weak ground, but they would also reduce the amount of excavation of poor soils and their replacement with imported aggregate (there is a lack of suitable stone in North-East India), making construction faster and safer, as well as delivering better value for money.
Sticking to conventional engineering practice is not going to help meet these ambitious infrastructure plans. A wider acceptance of alternative solutions, such as geosynthetics, will be the answer to delivering reliable, robust and safe infrastructure for future generations.
Mangesh Shinde is Business Manager at Tensar India.
For more information about Tensar’s road technology solutions, visit http://www.tensarinternational.com/roadtechnology
Tensar Geosynthetics India Pvt. Ltd.
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