Introduction: Road infrastructure plays an important role in a country’s development. There are two major types of materials widely used in road construction, namely concrete and bitumen. Concrete roads require low maintenance expenditure. They are impervious to water and to the ill effects of oil and lubricant spillage. Bitumen is a by-product of the petroleum refining industry. It is proven that the resistance of bitumen surfaces and their strength deteriorates rapidly under the influence of aggressive climate and usage conditions. On purely techno-economic considerations, concrete roads have proved to be far superior as compared to bitumen roads.

Road Infrastructure Abroad: Concrete is the preferred choice of material to build roads in most of the developed world. The US is often cited as the benchmark for rigid pavements. Concrete roads were first built in US a century ago, beginning with a six mile stretch. That multiplied to 11,000 miles in 20 years. It is interesting to note that in US, the growth of automobiles is correlated strongly with the growth of concrete roads. Today concrete roads link the country’s west coast on the pacific with the east coast on the Atlantic. In a country where petroleum prices are much cheaper than here in India, it is cement rather than bitumen/asphalt that is the chosen paving material. Concrete roads make up more than half their roads. In Netherlands as well, motorways and/or freeways are controlled-access highways for fast motor vehicles only and are consistently built with multiple carriageways, guard rails and interchanges with overpasses.

Indian Road Infrastructure: India’s preferred road-laying material has for long been bitumen. However, a few of the National Highways have concrete roads too. In some locations, such as in Kanpur, British-built concrete roads are still in use. Concrete roads are durable, weather-proof and require lower maintenance compared to bituminous roads. Moreover, new concrete technology has developed such as cool pavement, quick pavement and permeable pavement, which has rendered it more attractive and eco-friendly. Just one glance at Mumbai’s most famous landmark Marine Drive will amply demonstrate the durability and resilience of concrete roads. Mumbai residents will scarcely remember a single day when Marine Drive was closed for repairs or maintenance, unlike other bituminous roads. Even after seven decades of its construction, this seafront arterial road shows few signs of distress as compared to much newer stretches built in recent years.

India’s development agenda for the 21st century cries out for new impetus to rapid advancements and progress in building roads which are so vital to our economy. The construction of roads has demonstrated that it can be a major development activity and quite literally the road to economic success.

India is now, hence, quickly accepting and implementing traffic technology solutions in creating safer and durable ways for transport. To learn more about road infrastructure and possibilities related to it, participate in TrafficInfraTech Expo – the future of traffic technology in India.