‘International Road’ upgraded to concrete

When the Town of Morrisville, N.C., confronted a deteriorated asphalt roadway—one that carries a thousand trucks a day of traffic—and desired improved, direct access to the once-again thriving Raleigh/Durham International Airport, municipal engineers needed a solution. The cost of the work and the durability of the repair were the primary considerations. The answer presented itself: repave Morrisville’s International Road with concrete.

International Road is a mile-long, non-residential collector road located adjacent to Airport Boulevard and Aviation Parkway and services two concrete plants and two trucking companies doing business there. With constant use—trucks hauling deliveries to and from the plants and trucking concerns—the wear and tear created major failures on the asphalt surface.

Over the course of a year, members of the North Carolina Concrete Pavement Association (NCCPA), including Len Swederski, president of Swederski Concrete and Paving; Jerry Reece, executive director of the NCCPA; and Danny Alford, territory manager with Argos, USA, demonstrated to Blake Mills, Morrisville’s public works director, through a software application entitled “StreetPave,” the life-cycle cost analysis of choosing concrete pavement to improve the failed roadway.

“Concrete has a much longer useful life of at least 40 years, versus 15 years for asphalt, and the cost was only about 20 percent more than asphalt,” says Mills. “Asphalt really didn’t cut it the first time, therefore a high-strength concrete road seemed like the only viable solution.”

After Mills was convinced that International Road was the ideal “concrete” candidate, the team had to move quickly to get the job done without disruption of business. “In this challenging situation, where hauling requires 24-hour access to the roadway, we could not shut any businesses down,” said Reece. “Our goal was to use a high, early-strength mix in order to achieve concrete strength in three days to get the traffic back on. We beat that goal and had traffic back on the road before Monday.”

In a predominantly asphalt state, the town of Morrisville took a bold step forward by embracing the option to pave with concrete on International Road. While an asphalt thoroughfare, International Road went through repeated cycles of “patchwork” maintenance, but was never adequately restored at any point in time. Redesigned as a durable 8- to 10-in. concrete slab, International Road will now be extended three miles into the Raleigh/Durham Airport. “Concrete provided a maintenance solution, it was cost competitive and the entire project was completed in 30 days,” says Reece. “It looks beautiful now, and it will be there for at least the next 50 years, if not 100.”

In addition to concrete’s strength, durability and reduced heat island effect from using lighter-colored material, the town was also able to benefit by reclaiming the asphalt that was removed by Swederski and placing the material in an area of the town that needed fill material, completely eliminating any waste. — Southeast Chapter, American Concrete Pavement Association, www.pavementse.com