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Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

Draft for comment

GRAVEL / LATERITE (SURFACE OPTION No. 3)

DESCRIPTION
One or more layers of compacted natural
gravel / laterite placed directly on the
existing earth. Before placing, the existing
earth should be shaped and compacted
with a camber (crossfall) of about 3 - 7%
from the road centre line.
The overall gravel thickness is typically
15 - 30cm. Finished camber 3 - 7%.
Individual layer thickness up to 15cm
(compacted) maximum.

Source: Intech Associates

ADVANTAGES

DISADVANTAGES

Proven performance in tropical and subtropical, gravel-rich environments.


Usually lower initial cost than most other
surfacing options.
Can be used as an intermediate surface in a
planned and resourced stage construction
strategy.

Occurs in limited natural deposits of variable quality


Gravel WEARS. It is essential to have a sustained
maintenance programme and regular re-gravelling to
replace gravel loss.
High maintenance costs; particularly for re-gravelling.
Dust pollution in dry weather.
Traffic, climatic and longitudinal gradient (<6%)
constraints on use relating to rate of gravel loss.

Note: Laterite is a particular type of natural material used for gravel road surfaces.

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS
GRAVEL LOSS
Material is lost from the gravel road surface due to the action of rain, traffic wear, and dry season dust (fine
material) loss. Typically loss rates are 1 5cm of thickness per year. The rate of loss partly depends on the
rainfall and traffic characteristics. Alignment gradient, surface crossfall, road width, material quality,
compaction and maintenance practices can be expected to influence rates of gravel loss significantly. Gravel
loss is very specific to material and location, and there is some variation between the results of trials and
relationships derived in different regions and conditions. Outline predictions are provided from TRL and HDM,
and summarised on page 8. There is no substitute for local experience and research, which should enable
more accurate predictions to be developed. Gravel loss and dust may influence environmental considerations.
.
STRUCTURAL THICKNESS
Thickness design is not normally used for gravel surfacing. However it is necessary to provide sufficient
thickness to spread the load of the traffic so that it does not over-stress the underlying soil. TRL suggest the
following structural thickness for low traffic roads for a residual foundation rut depth of 40 mm:log N 40

h (CBR) 0.63
=
0.24
190

where: N = no. of standard 80 kN axles


h = thickness of granular material (mm)

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

CBR = subgrade CBR (%)

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

SUGGESTED DESIGNS
In the absence of local research or recommendations based on experience, the following are suggested:-

BASIC TRAFFIC Traffic: Mainly

non-motorised & less than 25 motor


vehicles per day with few heavy vehicles

Strong Foundation In situ soil CBR >


15 (Little traffic damage if earth road is
properly shaped to drain rainwater away)

Recommended Initial Compacted Thickness of Gravel/Laterite Surface


Low Rainfall Less than 1,500mm/year
High Rainfall More than
and little dry season dust
1,500mm/year, or long dry season and
considerable dry season dust

12 cm
(The existing soil may be strong enough to
support light traffic if the earth surface is
regularly re-shaped to drain rainwater away
therefore gravel may not be necessary)

15 cm

Intermediate Foundation - In situ soil


17 cm
20 cm
CBR = 5 to 15
Weak Foundation - CBR < 5 (Serious
wet season traffic damage, even if earth
23 cm
26 cm
road is properly shaped to drain
(Also consider other types of surface)
(Also consider other types of surface)
rainwater away)
The above overall thicknesses allow for 2cm (low rainfall) & 5cm (high rainfall) wear before re-gravelling will be carried out.

MEDIUM TRAFFIC Traffic up


to 100 motor vehicles per day including
up to 20 medium (10t) goods vehicles

Recommended Initial Compacted Thickness of Gravel/Laterite Surface


Low Rainfall Less than 1,500mm/year
High Rainfall More than
and little dry season dust
1,500mm/year, or long dry season and
considerable dry season dust

Strong Foundation In situ soil CBR >


15

20 cm

Intermediate Foundation In situ soil


CBR = 5 to 15

27 cm

32 cm

(Also consider other types of surface)

(Also consider other types of surface)

More than 30 cm

More than 30 cm

Weak Foundation - CBR < 5

25 cm

(Also consider other types of surface)

(Also consider other types of surface)


(Also consider other types of surface)
The above overall thicknesses allow for 5cm (low rainfall) & 10cm (high rainfall) wear before re-gravelling will be carried out.

GENERAL GUIDELINES
It is assumed that good quality gravel is used. Poor quality gravel will lead to higher gravel loss and reduced
surface life. A gravel surface should not be used on road sections liable to flooding.
In areas of medium high volume or intensity rainfall, gravel should not be placed on longitudinal gradients steeper
than 6%, due to erosion caused by rainwater flowing along the road surface.
Gravel should be placed and compacted on a pre-shaped (cambered) and compacted earth road formation. Water
should be added if necessary to obtain good compaction (as close as possible to optimum moisture content). If
earthworks compaction is not possible, the earthworks should be allowed to consolidate for at least one rain season
before (minor reshaping and) covering with the surfacing gravel.
The crossfall on the finished compacted gravel surface should be about 3% in dry regions. In wet regions the
finished crossfall should be 5 7%. Steeper crossfall will probably cause erosion by rainwater.
Maximum gravel layer thickness should be 10cm after compaction with deadweight equipment, 12cm with light
vibro-equipment (e.g. pedestrian vibrating roller), and 15cm if heavy vibro-compaction equipment is used. Where
the total required gravel thickness exceeds these limits, multiple layers should be constructed. For surfacing in
excess of 15cm thick, the excess thickness may be substituted by an imported capping layer of soil of compacted
strength greater than CBR=15, laid on the formation before placing the surfacing gravel layer on top.
The strength of the insitu soil may be checked with a Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP).
Subgrade soil strength measurements should be taken in the wet season for worst case assessment.
If gravel has to be hauled more than 10km, or for traffic levels higher than those shown in the tables above, detailed
initial and whole life cost (as well as socio-economic and environmental) comparisons should be made with other
surface options.
If timely maintenance regravelling is not carried out, the gravel surface will inevitably deteriorate to earth standard.
REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

EXAMPLE DESIGNS (not to scale)

BASIC TRAFFIC

Surface width 3.0 metres


Formation width 5.5 metres
Crossfall 3 7%

Side drain or embankment


At least 30 cm deep

Gravel 15 cm thick
after compaction

MEDIUM TRAFFIC

Surface width 5.5 metres


Formation width 6.5 metres

Crossfall 3 7%

Side drain or embankment


At least 30 cm deep

Gravel 20 cm thick
after compaction

Note that gravel material must be laid to drain across the earth formation and not be boxed in at the shoulders. This will
ensure better drainage and allow maintenance grading/reshaping without contaminating the gravel with shoulder soil.

TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS
Each activity to construct a gravel surface may be carried out using various technology options; from labour, through
intermediate equipment to heavy equipment, depending on local circumstances.

Activity

Technology Options

Quarry preparation

Labour+handtools , tractor-excavator, tracked excavator, bulldozer

Gravel excavation

Labour+handtools , tractor-excavator, tracked excavator, bulldozer

Gravel loading

Labour+handtools , tractor-excavator, tracked excavator, wheeled/tracked loader

Gravel haulage

Wheel barrow, hand cart, animal cart, light truck, tractor+trailer, medium/heavy truck

Unloading gravel

Labour+handtools, tipping equipment

Spreading gravel

Labour+handtools, tractor+heavy towed grader, motorgrader, wheeled/tracked loader

Watering

Towed bowser, truck bowser

Compaction

Pedestrian vibrating roller, medium/heavy smooth steel vibrating roller

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

SPECIFICATIONS
&

TRL Suggested grading of gravel wearing course


Sieve Size
(mm)

37.5
19.0
9.5
4.75
2.36
0.425
0.075

Preferred plasticity characteristics for gravel surfacings

Percentage passing by mass

Climate

Liquid Limit
not to
exceed
(%)*

Plasticity
Index
range (%)*

Linear
Shrinkage
(%)

Moist tropical &


wet tropical

35

49

25

Seasonal wet
tropical

45

6 20

3 10

Arid/semi-arid

55

15 - 30

8 - 15

Maximum size of particle (mm)


37.5

19.0

9.5

100
80 100
55 80
40 60
30 50
15 30
5 - 15

100
100
80 - 100
60 85
45 70
25 45
10 - 25

100
100
100
80 100
50 80
25 45
10 - 25

* Higher limits may be acceptable for some laterites and concretionary gravels that have a structure that is not easily broken down by traffic. Lower
limits may be appropriate for some other gravels that are easily broken down by traffic. Any variation from these limits should be based on carefully
collated local experience.

The principal requirements for


quality of gravel relate to
Percentage passing by mass
Sieve Size
grading of particle size and
(mm)
Maximum size of particle (mm)
plasticity of the fine material
37.5
26.5
19.0
13.2
binding the gravel together.
100
100
100
100
37.5
The larger material must also
100
100
100
85 100
26.5
be strong enough not to break
100
100
80 100
70 100
19.0
down under the effects of
100
75 100
60 85
60 85
13.2
traffic and weather. Material
60 100
50 75
45 65
40 60
4.75
may be used as-dug or may
45 70
35 55
30 50
25 45
2.00*
be blended from different
25 50
18 45
15 40
15 40
0.425
sources to achieve the
7 - 30
7 - 30
7 - 30
7 - 30
0.075*
desirable specification. In dry
* These sieves are the most important
climates a fairly high
proportion of clay particles is
desirable to bind the surface. In wet climates a lower clay proportion is desirable to avoid slippery surfaces and
excessive rutting. The above tables show some of the established specifications in use.
CSRA suggested grading of gravel wearing course (South Africa)

CONSTRUCTION
The principal concerns during construction of the gravel surface should be:

The formation or foundation for the gravel surfacing should be properly shaped and compacted beforehand.
The road drainage system must be adequate and functioning properly.
Gravel quality should be carefully controlled at the quarry by experienced supervisors, and an appropriate level
of testing, if feasible1.
Layer thickness control is essential, simple pegs or profile boards may be used for this purpose. Regular
checks should be made by excavating through the compacted gravel surface. Initial checks should be made on
number of loads delivered loose per unit length of road.
Large (oversize) particles should be removed by hand or broken down with sledgehammers.
The laid gravel material should be at a moisture content suitable for compaction; water should be added if
necessary.
Compaction by vibrating roller will considerably improve durability of the gravel surface. It is important to ensure
that the loose gravel is spread evenly prior to compaction to ensure a uniformly dense and even surface.
Finished compacted crossfall (3 7%) should be checked, for example with a camber board or template, or
using strings stretched longitudinally, transversely and diagonally between the setting out pegs.

For some small scale or remote works it is not possible or cost-effective to arrange for testing of materials at site.
In these circumstances an experienced supervisor is particularly desirable.
REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002
4
PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

PRODUCTIVITY
USING LABOUR AND LIGHT EQUIPMENT
Excavation of gravel by labour:
Hand loading of gravel by labour:
Unloading and spreading gravel by labour:

1.6 2.4 m / worker-day (insitu), 2.0 3.0 m / worker-day (loose)


8 10 m / worker-day (loose)
12 16 m / worker-day (loose)

An efficient fleet of 4 x 60 hp (45kW) tractors and 3 m fixed body trailers can haul about 100 110 m per day on a 5
km haul with labour carrying out all non-hauling activities, and compaction by 1 tonne twin drum rollers. Short hauls are
also suitable for light truck and animal haulage. For further guidance, see references No. 5 and 11.

USING HEAVY EQUIPMENT


An efficient heavy plant operation involving dozer, loader, (8) trucks, motorgrader, bowser and compacter can complete
approximately 450 - 500 m per day on a 5 km haul. The number of trucks may need to be increased for longer hauls.
The use of heavy equipment is not recommended for basic access roads.
Productivity depends particularly on the quality of planning and site management.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS
Costs will vary considerably depending on a wide range of factors such as scale of works, cross section, management
quality, material haul distances, technology used, finance costs, fuel costs, equipment utilisation and support, labour
costs, market conditions, payment arrangements, etc., and these should be carefully assessed for local circumstances.
Guidance on costing is provided in LCS Working Paper No 3 2. Gravelling by heavy equipment usually requires
considerable (and high risk) investment in expensive imported equipment. Labour and intermediate equipment
approaches can be more attractive and cheaper for small local enterprises and communities, and small scale work.
The principal factor influencing costs is the haulage distance as indicated in the example figure below. These costs
include quarry development, loading and royalties for placed COMPACTED material. Compacted gravel volume unit
costs will be approximately 30% higher than for material volume measured loose in the vehicles.
To the quarry & haulage costs
have to be added those of
preparation, setting out, placing,
shaping, (watering) & compaction
etc. These additional cost items
can amount to approximately
US$4.0 5.0/m of placed
COMPACTED gravel.

US$/cubic metre (compacted)

Gravel quarrying and haul costs


12.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
2.0
0.0
0

10

20

30

40

50

Haul distance (km)

60

These example costs are from S.


E. Asia in 2001 prices for
excavation by heavy plant and
haulage by trucks due to the long
distances involved. Prices include
overheads and profit for contractor
works. They should only be used
for indicative purposes. Wage
rates were approximately
US$1/worker day. Supervision
costs would be additional and can
be expected to be approximately 5
- 10% of the works costs.

LCS Working Paper No 3, Costing of Roadworks, R C Petts, 2002.


REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002
5

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

EXAMPLE BILL OF QUANTITIES for 1km of 3 metre wide, 15cm gravel surface for a basic access road
Item

Description

Unit

Quantity
-

A10

Setting up site operation, signs, safety,


diversions etc.

Lump Sum

B10

Clear worksite and repair drainage system

Linear metre

B11

Setting out alignment and thickness controls

B12

Price (US$)
per unit

Total Cost
(US$)

400.00

400.00

1,000

0.25

250.00

Linear metre

1,000

0.07

70.00

Preparation of formation or existing gravel


surface

Square Metre

5,500

0.10

550.00

C10

Quarry clearing, preparation & haul road

Lump Sum

200.00

200.00

C11

Excavate, load, haul and deposit gravel at


road site, maximum haul 1 km

Cubic Metre
(compacted)

450

1.60

720.00

C12

Haulage extra over 1km

Cubic Metre
(compacted) - km

1,800

0.17

306.00

D10

Spread, water and compact gravel to 15cm


final thickness

Square Metre

3,000

0.15

450.00

E10

Dismantling worksite and make good site and


quarries

Lump Sum

150.00

150.00

TOTAL (US$)

3,096.00

All rates to include royalties, fees, overheads and profit etc.


Does not include earthworks, drainage and other preparatory works.

MAINTENANCE
The PIARC International Road Maintenance Handbook (Reference 8) provides guidance on the maintenance of gravel
surfaces. Gravel surfaces wear and distort under the influence of traffic and weather. Routine or regular maintenance
involves reshaping or grading of the surface to remove ruts and corrugations and draw material back into the desired
camber shape and crossfall. This is important to prevent standing water which leads to pothole formation. Reshaping
can be achieved by labour, by light or heavy towed graders, or by motorgraders. Possible use of large modern
motorgraders should be considered carefully as their size and power can cause excessive damage to the surfacing and
mixing of unsuitable material into the surface, especially on narrow roads with thin surfaces. Grading should not be
carried out in conditions when the gravel is too dry to reconsolidate. Dragging can be effective in the dry season to
remove corrugations and spread loose material. Any potholes should be filled with gravel material prior to
grading/reshaping. The frequency of these operations on a section of road can be expected to be once or more per
year.
The loss of gravel from the road surface necessitates the periodic operation of regravelling. This is a high cost operation
and can be expected to be required after a period of a number of years, depending on the factors discussed under
DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS.

MAINTENANCE COSTS
Routine maintenance can be expected to cost from about US$250/network-km/year3. Periodic maintenance can be
expected to cost US$400 2,000/network-km/year for the range of normal conditions and considerations. These costs
are based on 2001 prices using labour and intermediate equipment methods, a labour wage rate on US$1/day and
include normal overheads and profit for contractor works. Costs can vary considerably as discussed in the section on
CONSTRUCTION COSTS. It should be noted that gravel / laterite surfaces will usually have higher maintenance needs
and costs than other surface types.

A Tractor & Labour Based Routine Road Maintenance System, Gongera & Petts, IRF Paris, 2001.

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

Maintenance costs and arrangements should be a key consideration in selection of road surface type.

Example Whole Life Cost Analysis


Assumptions:
Construction Cost

US$/km
4,128

Maintenance Year 1
Maintenance Year 2
Maintenance Year 3
Maintenance Year 4
Maintenance Year 5
Maintenance Year 6
Maintenance Year 7
Maintenance Year 8
Maintenance Year 9
Maintenance Year 10

200
200
2,064
200
200
2,064
200
200
2,064
200

Total Maintenance Cost (yrs 1-10)

7,592

Total Const. + Mtce. Cost (yrs 1-10)

Surface:
Rainfall regime
Haul Distance:
Subgrade CBR (%)

Gravel
High
5km
9

Initial gravel thickness (cm)


Gravel Loss (cm/year):
Residual thickness allowed (cm)
Regravelling thickness (cm)
Paving width (m):

20
3
14
10
3.0

11,720

NPV of Const + Mtce (yrs 1-10)

8,600

Residual Value end Year 10

4,128

NPV of Net Costs @ 10%

7,007

Construction cost to formation level, drainage and structures not included.


Routine road surface maintenance by labour: US$200/km/year
Does not include 'off-pavement' maintenance (drainage, vegetation, emergency)

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

USEFUL REFERENCES
For detailed guidance on construction and maintenance of gravel road surfaces, refer to the following
documents:1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.

R S Millard TRL, 1993, Road Building in the Tropics.


J Lebo & D Schelling, 2001, World Bank Technical Paper No 496, Design and Appraisal of Rural Transport Infrastructure,
Ensuring Basic Access for Rural Communities.
TRRL, 1988, Overseas Road Note 5, A Guide to Road Project Appraisal.
CSRA South Africa, 1989, TRH 14, Guidelines for Road Construction Materials, (reprint).
Ministry of Works Tanzania, 1998, Labour Based Roadworks Technical Manual.
Andersson, Beusch & Miles, 1996 Road Maintenance and Regravelling (Romar) using Labour-based Methods, Handbook
and Workbook.
Toole, Morosiuk, Petts & Done TRL, 2002, Management Guidelines for Unsealed Roads.
PIARC (World Road Association), 1994, International Road Maintenance Handbook. Available from PIARC in a number of
languages.
TRRL, 1987, Overseas Road Note 1, Maintenance Management for District Engineers (2nd edition)
TRRL, 1987, Overseas Road Note 2, Maintenance Techniques for District Engineers (2nd edition)
ASIST 1998, Technical Brief No 2, Productivity Norms for Labour-based Construction
R C Petts, 2002, LCS Working Paper No 3, Costing of Roadworks.
PIARC, 2001, HDM4 documentation.
TRRL, 1984, LR 1111 The Kenya Maintenance Study on Unpaved Roads: Research on Deterioration, Dr T E Jones.

ANNEXES
GRAVEL LOSS RELATIONSHIPS
1. TRL (source: LR 1111)
GLA = [(TA/( TA + 50)] (4.2 + 0.092TA + 3.5RF + 0.188GR)f
where
f

GLA
TA
RF
GR

material factor, which for


laterite
= 1.3
quartzites = 1.5
volcanics = 0.96
coral
= 1.5
sandstone = 1.4
calcrete
= 2.0 4.5
= Annual gravel loss (mm)
= Annual traffic flow (000s)
= Annual rainfall (metres)
= Gradient (metres/km)

2. PIARC-World Bank HDM4 (source: HDM4 documentation)


MLA = Kgl 3.65 [3.46 + 0.246(MMP/1000)(RF) + (KT)(AADT)]
where
KT = Kkt max [0, 0.022 + 0.969(HC/57300) + 0.00342(MMP/1000)(P075)
-0.0092(MMP/1000)(PI) 0.101(MMP/1000)]
and
MLA
KT
AADT
MMP
RF
HC
PI
Kgl
Kkt
P075

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

annual material loose, in mm/year


traffic-induced material whip-off coefficient
annual average daily traffic, in veh/day
mean monthly precipitation, in mm/month
average rise plus fall of the road, in m/km
average horizontal curvature of the road, in deg/km
plasticity index of the material, in percent
calibration factor for material loss
calibration factor for traffic-induced material whip-off coefficient
amount of material passing the 0.075mm sieve, in per cent by mass

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates

Rural Road Surfacing

EXAMPLE SURFACE OPTIONS (Provisional)

PHOTOGRAPHS (sources Upstream Project, Cambodia & Intech Associates)

1. Preparation of earth formation prior to


gravelling, using string & peg control of camber

2. Excavation of gravel by labour and loading


into trailers for tractor haulage

3. Unloading of gravel into pre-marked


bays (gravel may also be hauled by truck)

4. Watering and compaction of gravel surface

5. Maintenance reshaping of gravel by labour

6. Light maintenance grading of gravel surface

7. Heavy towed grading of gravel surface

8. An unnecessarily wide gravel surface is a


waste of construction and maintenance resources

REF: RR SURFACE 3f May 2002

PIARC, TRL & Intech Associates