Sustainable solutions for damaged hill road sections

Each monsoon, a number of Indian roads gets washed away, and those with potholes brace themselves for added deep damage. Depending on topography, different regions endure varied difficulties in monsoons.

International Road Federation (IRF) Landslides, areas being cut off, and chaos in the road network and infrastructure is what Uttarakhand deals with. It’s important that those concerned rebuild infrastructure here with ecologically sustainable techniques. It’s essential to turn to apt investigative tools in determining reasons for failure. Depending on this, proven technologies that meet specific needs have to be adopted.

Use of Non- Destructive Testing (NDT) Technologies reduce cost and time of subsurface characterization based on proper combination of validation with invasive techniques. NDT tools for hill roads of Uttarakhand are Seismic Electrical Resistivity (ER) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). GPR is used in subsoil investigations to determine concrete characterization of different layers, besides pavement structure integrity. Both tools are used in subsurface imaging, sinkhole determination, and their extent, and depth to bedrock and fill depths.

Bailey BridgeSeismics are key in studying boulder strata/weathered strata/and depth to base rock, and facilitates demarcation of rock types without invasive methods, which are self limiting. Road agencies should value the importance of much needed geotechnical investigations in hilly terrain to determine the right remedial measures.

Outer and Lesser Himalayas comprise of unstable strata owing to the young folded mountains comprising weak to weakly cemented sedimentary rocks lacking inherent strength. Cutting slopes in the regions warrants caution duly recognising that road foundations and slopes are susceptible to slope or foundation failure because of saturation of underlying water, overloading of slopes beyond designed limits for pavement and structure foundations.

With inputs from K. K. Kapila, Chairman, International Road Federation (IRF) Geneva based Road Safety Body, Chairman & Managing Director, ICT (P) Ltd., & Co-Chair FICCI’s Infrastructure Committee.