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White topping - projected panacea?

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Call it election frenzy or a plan being put in place to 'address' major public woe of having a city with bad roads, the govt is in a frenzy to white top major roads in the city.

Working on a concrete road is many times more expensive than working with asphalt roads. So higher initial cost. But yes, concrete roads gives an indication of 'trouble free' roads. But is it the way to go?

Besides higher initial costs, some of the major disadvantages with concrete roads are as below:

  • Vehicles seem to skid on wet roads
  • Maintenance cost is very high

Wet roads effect

 

Wet roads are typically important in the context of Bengaluru, because the city recieves more than the region average rainfall every year . Also, the roads are not all that straight around town and this makes it that much more difficult to navigate during rains. Asphalt trumps concrete in such situations.

High maintenance costs

wether this is a disadvatage or not for govt is debatable. This is because the govt has already experimented with concrete roads starting with the various sections of the city with narrow roads. It is seen that any maintenance is many times more expensive than asphalt roads. In the case of BBMP, which is least transparent in its working, this is a boon, since it allows milking the exchequer with higher bills every time any small work needs to get done. And for sure, they will have works being done regualrly.

So going with whitetopping for Bengaluru roads should ideally have the below considerations addressed:

  • Only straight and long main roads need to be picked 
  • Utilities are ducted properly with right access manholes, so that the roads are never dug up

 

Asphalt also has its advantages like:

  • Asphalt on the other hand is way more chaper to work with.
  • With asphalt milling (ideally done), there is reuse which saves on resources
  • Asphalt gives better grip to vehicles during rains

So how the city decides on what type of roads needs to be based on many factors and not just on 'perceptions'

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