Pavement failure is caused by a number of variables including, water intrusion, stress from heavy vehicles, expansion and contraction from seasonal temperature changes, and sun exposure. It is important to keep up with proper maintenance like crack and asphalt sealing to prevent cracks from spreading or forming.
Asphalt cracking by far makes up for the majority of pavement failure issues because of its tendency to spread and the wide variety of elements that can cause cracking. It is fairly normal for an asphalt surface to crack over time due to the settling of soil and the exposure to the outdoor elements, however, there are some less usual and common cracking issues that can form from improper mix design for pavement construction.
Alligator cracking forms when the subgrade and asphalt base begins to compress from bearing heavy vehicles. Alligator cracking is commonly found at intersections where vehicles are stopped for a continuous amount of time. Initial cracks will form and spread through water intrusion and further asphalt base compression.
Edge cracking forms along the edge of a road and is typically caused by water damage, insufficient base material, and heavy road usage.
Block cracking is formed by seasonal temperature differences that cause the asphalt to expand and contract. Block cracking will form if an asphalt surface has too rigid of a mix design that does not give the surface room for seasonal density changes.
Potholes are formed through prolonged water intrusion from existing cracks in the surface. If alligator cracks and other asphalt stress cracks are not treated, water will begin to erode the surface all the way down to the sub base. This will cause large holes to form in the asphalt which will spread and cause damage to vehicles. Once a pothole is formed a patch can be applied to the surface, but because the sub base has been destroyed the area will continue to become compacted.
A depression in an asphalt surface is formed by uneven sub-bases or compactions over time. Depressions have a lower elevation than the asphalt surface which will cause the area to hold water for longer. Water buildup can cause further issues like raveling or potholes.
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