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"Bun is such a sad word, is it not?" -- Watt, "Waiting for Godot"
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The road between here and the nearest town is a fucking
nightmare. There has been a repair crew working on it
constantly for the last 5 months and it's less than 10
distance. All they do is move from pothole to pothole,
filling them with some shit that doesn't solve the
now that's been said by way of preamble... moving
right along, I propose an entirely new kind of road.
This one is made from heavy duty interlocking pallets of
recycled plastic, about a foot thick by 10ft wide and 20ft
or even 30ft long. Add gravel to the mix, if that means
they are heavy enough that they won't float away when
Tapered slightly on three sides, they are laid alternately,
with one (large side up) slipping down between two with
small side up, thus:
and so on. You'll have to imagine that they are solid to a
thickness of a foot, with a high grip tread pattern on the
road surface (maybe impregnation with gravel solves
Laid between concrete barriers on either side of the
road to prevent them joggling away under repeated
traffic load and cornering forces, they should provide a
stable road surface.
Extra lanes can be added by putting another row
alongside the first and second rows, to create wider
roads. This system still needs a fairly solid road base
but the pothole damage that currently occurs should be
Unlike concrete they should also give a bit and reduce
the "bump-thump" shock that concrete block roads
Then, if a block fails it's a matter of simply lifting it out
and dropping another in its place then taking the busted
one off to be melted down and recycled into a new road
[senatorjam, May 18 2011]
Density of PET is 1.4g/cm^3
[Voice, Nov 13 2011]
||I like the idea of a modular road, which doesn't need all this labourious repair work using hot tar and shovels which all seems a bit 19th century. I'm not sure about plastic which might fatigue under repeated deformation - perhaps something a bit more rubbery, using recycled tyres, might work? In general, we have to think of the failure mode, given that failure will occur when a fast-moving truck is on the road surface. Plastic tends to fail catastophically, shattering or shearing, whereas traditional concrete or tarmac roads tend to fail a little bit at a time.
||Not naysaying the idea, but if you've a vehicle which is putting out 25hp at the wheels, that's 25hp literally pushing the road; I don't think plastic is going to cut it.
||Why not? If the rubber of the tires can take it, a plastic or rubberized plastic definitely can.
||Sadly, no. The reason most areas get potholes is
because water seeps into the road and freezes.
Water expands as it converts to ice and pops out
some bit of road. Your system would actually be
worse than existing systems as whole sections of
road would be lifting up.
||A pothole is caused by a significant break in the road surface (possibly caused by ice as mentioned, sometimes thermal cycling or loading based fatigue) which allows movement of the broken chunks to wear away at the inside of the hole. The edges formed also act to magnify the stresses of vehicles rolling over the pothole, causing the edge to further deteriorate. Therefore I don't think this would be vulnerable to ice, other than a build-up in the surface.
||I like this, but would be wary of a plastic surface polishing smooth. Perhaps a different surface fitted, but I like it nonetheless.
||You would need expansions joints between sections, similar to bridge joints.
||Worth a try, at least. And a bun. [+]
||It hasn't frozen here since the last ice age, and we
got enough potholes to make another
||I think it's because the road substrate gets a little
water down through a crack in the bitumen and
repeated hydraulic shock from passing vehicles
does the rest.
||I also added gravel to the mix when I proposed the
idea, to prevent it getting all slick and shiny.
Having sharp gravel protruding from the surface
should make it as grippy as asphalt.
||As for your 25hp moving the road blocks... a block
of PET 9.0m x 3.0m x 0.3m is about 11,000kg. It's
not going to move far.
||Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion of PET is
higher than for steel, so there will need to be
some room for expansion. That was part of the
idea behind the tapered shape, which should take
up some of the expansion/contraction.
||"Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion of PET is higher than for steel, so there will need to be some room for expansion. That was part of the idea behind the tapered shape, which should take up some of the expansion/contraction."
||Actually, what that will do is cause your road surface to have very pronounced differences in height between lower panels and upper panels as they warm. Are you sure that's the effect you're looking for?
||It's still got to be better than the bone-jarring ride
I'm currently enduring whenever I drive from home to
||I cracked an alloy wheel rim on my car the other day.
It was fitted with a 60 series tyre on a 17in rim.
Potholes are so deep they would double as foxholes.
||If a normal road is made of asphalt-bound gravel,
and these plastic pallets are full of asphalt-bound
gravel, I do not understand why being in the pallet
makes the gravel less likely to crack and wear
away. You would have intrapallet potholes, no?
||Modular roads like modular floors or carpet make
sense. Heavily trafficked roads like interstates are
made in this way, I think, with slabs of poured
||Re "a little water down the crack" I have noticed
just in the past year a new way to address cracks
in roads. They are drilled out and then filled with
sealant - the result being a meandering line of
sealant following the old path of the crack.
||That's hardly a new method. Up here in the Great Frozen
North our rural highways resemble road maps of Estonia
from all of the squiggly lines of sealant tracing the cracks.
||Not that it does a blind bit of good, mind you.