Veeraragavan recently published in the Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Volume 69-2, July-September 2008 and presented at the IRC Session in Kolkata. The authors havemade a detailed technical and economical comparison of BM with DBM in Section 5.1 of the paper in terms of permeability, structural strength, use as PCC, cost considerations,traffic conditions, and general statements. It was concluded with technical justificationsthat dense graded DBM should be used in lieu of open graded, undrained BM especiallyto obtain long lasting pavements. Numerous positive comments have been received onthis paper, which made a strong case of drastically reducing the number of bituminousmixes in the orange book by deleting some mixes such as Bituminous Macadam (BM)and Semi-Dense Bituminous Concrete (SDBC), which are fundamentally flawed and arenot cost effective.However, despite many fundamental, technical flaws associated with BM as mentioned inthe paper, some engineers still advocate to retain it in the specifications. This is probablydue to the following misconceptions:
Dense graded DBM is not flexible enough to be placed directly on WMM and therefore a “flexible” BM course is necessary between the WMM and DBM.
If theDBM was not flexible it would not rut at all. But that is not the case. If there isuneven settlement /consolidation of WMM, the DBM is flexible enough todeform and adjust similar to BM if that is what is desired. It is a common practicein most countries of the world to place DBM type bituminous base course directlyon crushed stone base course (we call it WMM). That practice has resulted indurable long lasting pavements without any problems.
BM is cheaper than DBM and that is why it is good for a developing country like India.
A detailed, comparative cost analysis given in the paper shows that theDBM is cheaper than the BM by 15 to 21% if the relative structural strengths areconsidered. Only when the BM is used as PCC to correct camber/super elevationit is cheaper than the DBM. But the problem still remains that the undrained BMPCC would trap moisture/water creating a “bath tub” within the pavement andthus will be potentially detrimental to the pavement.Some engineers have suggested retaining the BM but providing outlet for the water trapped in the open graded BM. To do this, the BM has to be extended all the way to theedge of the embankment (that is, day lighted) or pavement edge drains have to beconstructed to drain the BM. Both of these configurations which are shown in Figs. 2(a)and 2(b) of the paper to drain a permeable asphalt treated base (PATB) are very expensive propositions. Even developed countries use the PATB as a drainage layer only on selectedheavy duty roads. It should also be mentioned here that if we must use a drainage layer inIndia in exceptional circumstances, we should use PATB rather than the BM because theformer with 2-3% bitumen content and coarser gradation is not only cheaper but alsomore permeable.If BM is used as PCC for correcting camber, it may not be possible to drain the BMwedge (triangle) especially if it is towards a raised median. Moreover, rainwater falling inthe raised median may also enter sideways into the open graded BM wedge and cause2