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Te c h S p e c 7

Repair of Utility Cuts Using Interlocking
Concrete Pavers
North American cities have thousands of utility cuts made such as lost productivity due to delays, and damage to vehicles
in their streets each year. Figure 1 shows a daily occurrence from poor pavement riding quality. While these losses are dif-
in most cities: repairs to underground utility lines for water, ficult to quantify, they are very present.
sewer, gas, electric, steam, phone, fiber-optic, or cable services. The third cost is subtle and long term. It is the cost of pavement
A sample is given below of the number of annual utility cuts damage after the repair is made. Cuts damage the pavement.
in a few cities. Damage can range from negligible to substantial, depending
on the quality of the reinstated area and the condition of the
Billings, Montana 650–730
surrounding pavement. The damage reduces pavement life
Boston, Massachusetts 25–30,000
and shortens the time to the next rehabilitation. The need
Chicago, Illinois 120,000
to rehabilitate damaged pavements earlier rather than when
Cincinnati, Ohio 6,000
normally required has
Oakland, California 5,000
costs associated with it.
San Francisco, California 10,000
Several studies have
Seattle, Washington 10­–20,000
demonstrated a rela-
Toronto, Ontario 4,000
tionship between util-
The Costs of Utility Cuts ity cuts and pavement
The annual cost of utility cuts to cities is in the millions of dollars. damage. For example,
These costs can be placed into three categories. First, there are streets in San Francisco,
the initial pavement cut and repair costs. These include labor, California, typically last
materials, equipment, and overhead for cutting, removing, 26 years prior to resur-
replacing, and inspecting the pavement, plus repairs to the facing. A study by the
utility itself. Costs vary depending on the size and location of City of San Francisco
the cut, the materials used, waste disposal, hauling distances, Department of Public
and local labor rates. Works demonstrated
Second, there are user costs incurred as a result of the repair. that asphalt streets
They include traffic delays, detours and denied access to streets with three to nine util-
by users, city service and emergency vehicles. ity cuts were expected
User costs depend on the location of the cut. A repair blocking to require resurfacing
traffic in a busy center city will impose higher costs and inconve- every 18 years (1). This Figure 1. Repairs to utilities are a
nience from delays than a cut made in a suburban residential represented a 30% re- common sight in cities, incurring
street. There are downstream costs to users from utility repairs duction in service life costs to cities and taxpayers.

© 1996 ICPI Tech Spec No. 7 Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute—Revised September 2013.

Research in Santa Monica. Pavement life was are restored. Annual cost Annual cost Number of years of life compared to streets with less than three Annual cost of of resurfacing remaining before pavement damage = of resurfacing . cause the backfilled soil to be street that is about ready for resurfacing.” streets with utility cuts saw an average decrease in life by a A 1985 study in Burlington. Vermont. and produce discontinui- ties in the soil and wearing surface. This represents a 50% reduction in thoroughfare. California. compacted to a different degree than the Table 1—Annual cost of pavement damage from utility cuts (4). collector . utility cuts produce by cuts all streets thoughfare. The final paver surface is continuous. no matter how well they more often than streets without patches. x resurfacing streets cuts. Removal of concrete pavers for a gas line repair in Figure 3. Reinstatement of the pavers. ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 2 . or 41% the street. or 64% (3). Ohio.. Compaction of the base Dayton.53. “.70 and 2. Utility cuts cause the soil around the cut to The fee would be higher if a street to be cut had been recently resurfaced.) before resurfacing if there are no utility cuts service compared to streets with less than three cuts. showed that inherent consequence of the trenching process.” It further stated that permit fee revenue does not Figure 2. etc. Figure 4. the reduction in pavement service life due to utility cuts is an to 60% (2). weaken the pavement and shorten the life of shortened by factors ranging between 1.even the highest restoration that year standards do not remedy all the damage. notes that “street cuts. Missouri.) total miles (km) of all damage that extends beyond the immedi. Where the: Total miles (km) of The report concludes that while San Annual cost of percent of all Total annual streets resurfaced that Francisco has some of the highest standards resurfacing streets = resurfaced streets x cost of x year of one category (local.75. soil around the cut. and lower for a be disturbed. demonstrated that factor of 2. Therefore. etc. streets resurfaced in ate trench. A 1994 study by the City of Kansas pavements with patches from utility cuts required resurfacing City. damaged by utility cuts that are damaged resurfacing for trench restoration. There are no cuts or damage to the pavement.. collector . Streets with more than nine cuts from utility cuts to one streets damaged streets damaged with utility cuts category of streets by utility cuts by utility cuts were expected to be resurfaced every 13 (local. bedding and joint sand Figure 5. A damage fee would be derived by dividing the annual cost of resurfacing a particular category of street damaged by utility cuts by the number of years of life expected from those streets. Expected years of life years.

and user costs. The rationale for fees to compensate for early Reducing User Costs—User costs due to traffic inter- resurfacing can be based on the following formula in Table 1. ruptions and delays are reduced because concrete pavers Pavement damage fees may be necessary for conventional. Traffic. Cross section of reinstated utility cut into interlocking concrete pavement. showed tate them. Minimizing waste material is cuts by increasing fees or by charging a damage fee. Figure 6. ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 3 . that damage to the pavement extends up to three feet (1 m) Reducing Pavement Cut and Repair Costs— Costs to open from the edge of properly restored cuts (5). Pavement damage from settlement and shrinkage and repair costs. They can also reduce costs of cold patch asphalt. and subgrade has been broken. Since the same for pavement damage after the cut pavement is replaced. Permit fees savings occur because saw-cutting equipment and pneumatic charged by cities to those making cuts often do not fully account jack hammers are not required for removal. monolithic pavements (asphalt and cast-in-place concrete) be- cause they rely on the continuity of these materials for structural performance and durability. Cost and rehabilitation to remedy damage from cuts. When pavement life is shortened. are mitigating the long-term costs of pavement reducing waste and hauling. and in the soil. additional savings can result from cities. in the compacted base. compensate the city for the lost value resulting from street from long term pavement damage. however. Ohio. Some paver units are reinstated. and discontinuities in the surface. conditions and increased landfill costs. They seek important in urban street repairs because of compact working compensation for future resurfacing costs to remedy pave. A 1995 study by the city of Cincinnati. Cuts reduce performance because the continuity of the pavement surface. Reducing Costs with Interlocking Concrete Pavements Interlocking concrete pavements can reduce pavement cut Figure 7. ment damage. and the fees to rehabili- cuts (4). interlocking concrete pavements can be competitive with The cost of pavement damage includes street resurfacing monolithic pavements such as asphalt or poured concrete. rehabilitative overlays are needed sooner than normal. de-icing salts. weather. base. thereby incurring maintenance costs sooner than normal. shorten the life of the repaired cut.

Therefore. Besides providing to the extent that the transition from one surface to the next a pavement surface without cuts. However. 3. as well as residential streets. using cold patch asphalt. there is no damage to adjacent. Figures 2. reinstatement. the pavers cuts or cracks. the cold patch is typically removed and Attractive paver streets and walks without ugly patches can hot mix asphalt is placed in the openings. they do not suffer change in dimensions causes the edge of the cut asphalt to damage from cuts. Furthermore. e. gas lines. The joints allow minor settlement in the pavers caused by discontinuities in the base or soil without cracking. shear transfer. Unlike as- phalt. Several repairs were in streets subject to heavy the modular units in interlocking concrete pavements maintain truck traffic. Furthermore. This reduces the likelihood of settlement and helps eliminate damage to the pavement. With (6). because they are made of high strength concrete. The role of joints in interlocking cessfully used as a replacement for cold patch asphalt (Figures concrete pavement is the opposite from those in monolithic 8 and 9). the joints distribute loads by can barely be discerned by the driver. business district. When pavers are reinstated on a properly compacted base.g. This makes interlocking concrete pavement very cost effective for streets that will experience a number of utility repairs over their life. the cold patch asphalt in a London. The local gas company normally reinstates cut pavement many projects. provides step-by-step guidance for repairs to vehicular and require no curing. Utility cut repair in a residential area in London. long term costs of pavement damage from utility cuts to interlocking concrete pavement can be substantially lower when compared to monolithic pavements. reducing user delays. positively affect this character. Character influences property values and taxes. 4. The pavers were colored ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 4 . The need for street resurfacing caused by repeated utility cuts is eliminated because concrete pavers are not damaged in the reinstatement process. reinstated experimental variation of the techniques in this technical bul- concrete pavers preserve the aesthetics of the street or sidewalk letin is demonstrated in London. There are no patches to detract from the character of ity cuts in asphalt are made with interlocking concrete pavers the neighborhood. They can handle traffic immediately after pedestrian pavements made with concrete pavers. Utility Cut Repairs in Asphalt Pavements Using Interlocking Concrete Pavers Figure 8. intent of being removed in the spring. Costs were less than structural continuity. lower costs from less damage can mean lower fees for cuts when compared to those for cutting into mono- lithic pavements. concrete pavers help define the character of in the winter with cold patch asphalt after making repairs to these areas.. published by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute. In the spring. The modular pavers and joints are superior deteriorate. Any break in monolithic pavement. normally shortens pavement life because the performed so well that the City of London left them in place continuity of the material is broken. and settlement decreases riding quality. Tech Spec 6–Reinstatement of Interlocking Concrete Pavements. In contrast.They were first used as a temporary repair with the pavements. undisturbed units. The riding quality and safety has improved locking paving pattern and sand filled joints. the use of low density concrete fill can help reestablish the broken continuity of the base and subgrade. Figure 7 shows the result of settlement and shrinkage of Reducing Costs of Pavement Damage—Since interlock. utility cut. Ontario. Ontario. The concrete have produced a smooth surface transition from the reinstated units are knitted into existing ones through the inter. where repairs to util- surface. the joints of indefinitely. 5 and 6 show the process of repair and illustrate All repairs in London with concrete pavers and low-density the continuity of the paver surface after it is completed. concrete pavers do not deform. to the cracks from cuts that typically result in accelerated wear Concrete pavers on low density concrete fill have been suc- to monolithic pavements. Ontario. or center city area. The ing concrete pavements are not monolithic. asphalt to the pavers. A unique. joints. In addition.

The sides of the asphalt provide a restraint patch asphalt. or provincial standards. A pneumatic hammer should not be used Repair Guidelines for Using Concrete Pavers for to cut the asphalt. Ontario. Ontario to match the appearance of the asphalt so there would be no has reduced liability. Signing such as warnings. The base material. Cuts in the asphalt pavement should be done with a saw using straight lines. The saw cuts must be vertical and made Utility Cuts in Asphalt Pavement completely through the existing asphalt layer. The smooth riding pavement has increased (25 mm) of bedding sand. (80 mm) thick pavers and approximately 1 in. Ontario. state. suffer from alligator cracking. arrows. Figure 9. flashers. in freezing weather. have been in provide clean corners along the edge of the cut. and City continue to make repairs using this method. labor forces can be placed on a patch of pavers blending with the surrounding pavement. in no settlement. The gas company layer should not be fractured. The use of low-density concrete fill has resulted for the 3. By eliminating the need to remove cold substantial differences in appearance. accord- concrete pavers can be opened to traffic within 24 hours. cones and/or The concrete cures to a sufficient strength that the repair with barricades should be placed around the area to be cut. is a low-strength concrete utility repairs with concrete pavers and low-density concrete poured from a ready-mix truck into the trench opening. Figure 10 shows such patch asphalt in the spring. concrete fill eliminates the need to replace the aggregate base. and be broken with a pneumatic hammer and removed with a ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 5 . In order to The experimental repairs in London. (100 mm). The interior of the cut asphalt can the public image of the utility company and the City. even ing to local. the asphalt place since 1994 and have performed well. more urgent work. ongoing repairs using this method demonstrate that it has The thickness of the asphalt at the opening should be at particular application in cold climates as a substitute for cold least 4 in. Cross section of utility cut repairs with concrete pavers in London.125 in. The fill in London. The or be raveled. controlled low-density concrete fill The following are guidelines from experience with many (sometimes called unshrinkable fill).

should be kept free from standing water. A recom- mended mix can be made with ASTM C 150 (9) Type I Portland cement (or Type 3 for winter repairs). There are many mixes used for low-density concrete fill (7) (8). may crack or break pieces from the cut asphalt edges.2-9C (10).2. The slump of the concrete should be between 6 and 8 in. and in places where the soil or base has fallen from the sides of the trench. and/or or CAN3-A23.5-M type 10 (or type 30 Portland cement) (10). under the edge of the cut asphalt (providing additional support). The low maximum cement content Equipment should be kept from the edges of the opening as loads and strength enables the material to be excavated in the future. and care must be taken to not undermine the not exceed 50 psi (0. Yield. bracing. Others are Figure 10.4 Mpa) as measured by ASTM C 39 (11) adjacent pavement. The maximum 28 day compressive strength should removed asphalt. Trench excavation.07 Mpa) should be achieved within Excavation of the base and soil must be within the limits of the 24 hours. A strength of 10 psi (0. Low density concrete fill (unshrinkable fill) poured into a utility trench from a ready- mix concrete truck. Ontario made with cement.The trench be evaluated for excessive strength after 28 days. shoring. Unshrinkable fill poured into the trench is shown in Figure 11. Excavated Mixes containing supplementary cementing materials should soil and base materials should be removed from the site. Proprietary mixtures in- clude those made with fly-ash that harden rapidly. than 42 lbs/cy (25 kg/m3). and Air Con- tent (Gravimetric) of Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM) Figure 11. (150 and 200 mm) as specified in ASTM C 143 (11) or CAN3-A23. the total air content should be between 4 and 6% as measured in ASTM D 6023 Standard Test Method for Density (Unit Weight). Repaired utility lines are typically wrapped in plastic prior ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 6 . A patch of pavers in a heavily trafficked intersection in London. Air content greater than 6% is not recommended as it may front end loader. or CAN3-A23. or CAN3-A23. These places are normally impossible to fill and compact with aggregate base or backfill material. carefully to prevent damage to the edges. The fills flows into undercuts. When air entrainment is required to increase flowability.5C (10). Cement Content.2-4C (10). Pieces along the saw cuts should be removed increase segregation of the mix. Cement content should be no greater sheeting should be done in accordance with the local authority.

It should be poured should be placed in a sailor course.Figure 13. Joints between pavers should ment. limestone screenings or Make at least four passes with the plate compactor. asphalt.125 in. (100 mm x 200 mm)] should be bonding to the lines and enables them to move independently. Compact the should conform to the grading requirements of ASTM C 33 pavers with a minimum 5. A small stone dust should not be used. Concrete pavers should be at least 3. generally within a few hours after place. This can be accomplished by adjusting the height of the screed pipes. placed against the cut asphalt sides as a border course. ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 7 . Screed the bedding with 1 in. Since the low-density con- crete fill is self-leveling. The bundles should be covered with plastic to prevent water from freezing them to- gether. Remove excess sand from the opening. (25 mm) amount of settlement. They When the fill is poured. In most cases. Rectangular concrete pav. The sand should be moist.. there will be a slope on the surface of the street. i. be delivered in strapped bundles and placed around the opening in locations that don’t interfere with excava- tion equipment or ready-mix trucks. These are typically removed with a paver cart. The bedding sand should be as hard as available and be between 1/ 16 and 5/ 16 in. by 8 pouring the low density fill. This keeps the concrete from ers [nominally 4 in. (11) or CSA A23. They should Figure 12. the long side against the to within 4 in.000 lbf (22 kN) plate compactor.e. but test area of pavers may need to be compacted to check the not saturated or frozen. (2 to 5 mm).ringbone pattern (Figure 12). Bedding sand can be installed when the concrete is firm Place pavers between the border course in a 90 degree her- enough to walk on. (100 mm) of the riding surface of the asphalt. it will create a flat surface for the bed- ding sand. The bedding sand thickness should diameter screed pipe. Most bundles have several rows or bands of pavers strapped together. Mason sand. No cut paver should be smaller than one third of a unit. The bundles need to be placed in locations close to the edge of the opening. The paver bundles should be oriented so that removal of the bands with carts is done away from the edge of the asphalt. Adjustments to the thickness of the bedding sand may be necessary for the finished elevation of the pav- ers to follow the slope on the surface of the street. Pavers are laid in a 90 degree herringbone pattern between the border courses. it is self-leveling. (80 mm) thick and meet ASTM C 936 (12) or CSA A231.2 (13).1 (10). Concrete pavers in utility cuts can be painted as any other pavement.

J. Ltd. the City of Burlington. 1. D. Washington. Street Pavements. The joint nual Meeting. Box 9094. traffic. Ontario K1P 14801 Murdock Street Tel: 703. Pavements in San Francisco. University of Cincinnati. 4. 1985. “Unshrinkable Fill for Utility 1/8 in. Volume I: Study Procedure 12. Box 1150 Uxbridge.657. 9. Farmington Hills. VA 20151 E-mail: icpi@icpi. tion .” Transportation Research Board An- Spread. 1995. certification or as a specification. Ottawa. Pennsylvania.. Ontario.” Union Gas London Division. Maryland. West Conshohocken.. Program. London. 5. specifications and construction of each project..02. ASTM Annual Book of Standards. 2. as to the content of the Tech Spec Technical Bulletins and disclaims any liability for damages resulting from the use of Tech Spec Techni- cal Bulletins. CSA A179 (10). Emery. souri. and Franco. sweep and compact sand into the joints. 1989. p. compaction. 6.” Canadian Portland Cement Association. Bodocsi.” Department of Public Works. ICPI makes no promises. 2013. It is not intended for use or reliance upon as an industry standard. and should 9. 13.icpi.01. 900 Spring Gas Company by ARE Engineering Consultants Inc. (3 mm) above the edge of the asphalt. A.2. 2013. December 1989.Methods of Test for Concrete. Vermont in 1985 and published Sources for additional information on low-density flowable with revisions for the 1986 Annual Meeting of the Trans- portation Research Board. Canadian Standards Association.. “Unshrinkable Fill for Utility Trenches and Streets. “Unshrinkable Backfill Study.05. Professional assistance should be sought with respect to the design. ICPI Tech Spec 7  Page 8 . Street. Mis. Cut Restorations.. ASTM Annual Book of Standards. California. Ohio. ASTM Annual Book of In Canada: P. 1994 with revi- sions in 1995. 1500-60 Queen www. Union Gas Limited. Rexdale. representations or warranties of any kind. Tarakji. L. tel: 613-236-9471 Paved Streets. fill include the Cement Association of Canada. CP004. December 23. Scotts Valley. 7. or crosswalk mark. paper SP93-10. Ontario. Figures 8. Performance Audit—Public Works Department Utility Cuts “Controlled Low Strength Materials (CLSM)” at P. Volume 4. 11. Concrete Materials and Methods of Concrete Construc- may be painted with the same lane. Figure 1 iStock. Volume 4. County of San Francisco. Shahin. adjusted in thickness to yield pavers no higher than 8.6901 Chantilly. a report prepared for Southern California and the National Concrete Ready-Mix Association. Ontario. ON L9P 1N4 Canada The content of ICPI Tech Spec technical bulletins is intended for use only as a guide- line. 7. Publication No. California.O..Y. 2013. Association. Michigan 48333-9094. G.6900 Suite 230 Fax: 703. The pavers 10. Ontario. Volume 4. And Johnston T. “The Effect of Utility Cuts on the Service Life of Pennsylvania. J. City and Society for Testing and Materials.” report prepared by ERES International for Rexdale. American References Society for Testing and Materials. 10 and 11 are courtesy of Gavigan Contracting. “Effects of Util. expressed or implied. M.. West Conshohocken. sand is typically finer than the bedding sand. tel: 810-848-3700. Remove excess sand and other debris. 2013. tel: 301-587-9419. City of Kansas City. The joints must be completely full of sand after Pennsylvania. American conform to the grading requirements of ASTM C 144 (11) or Society for Testing and Materials. Canadian Standards ings as any other concrete pavements (Figure 13). Impact of Utility Cuts on Performance of London. CSA-A231. American and Findings. 2009. 20910. et al. The American Concrete Institute offers publication 229R-94. City Auditor’s Office.. A. The Cincinnati Infrastructure Research Institute. Ontario. 1993. Crovetti.C. Suite 609. Silver Spring. Comprehensive Study to Evaluate Repair Patches for Asphalt Street.O. May 1995. Precast Concrete ity Cut Patching on Pavement Performance and Rehabili. March 1994. Canadian Standards Association. tation Costs.657. Pavers. Ottawa. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineer- ing. West Conshohocken.01P.