Can Permeable Pavements Solve our Road Issues?

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Thinking of Innovative Ways to Solve Flooding and our Road Issues

One of the many challenges we face weekly is our deteriorating roads. Potholes are the subject of many news articles, radio conversations and social commentary over the last few months. Already looking to be a major talking point amongst politicians in the next elections. There needs to be a long-term solution to this problem plaguing our daily commute, as these temporary fixes are clearly not sufficient. Here at Construction Caribbean, we are trying to take a different approach to the current problem-solving methods which are not working.

Roads are made using either asphalt or cement as the major component as well as gravel and other aggregates. Our roads in the Caribbean are made from Asphalt which has the advantage of being cheaper and easier to fix in small areas, but is very susceptible to flooding and requires frequent repairs. Asphalt is temperature sensitive and with the increasing temperatures of our planet and increased flooding as we have seen locally over the past few months causes asphalt to deteriorate faster. The solution according to one cement company last year was investing in cement roads which are more durable and have a 20-year lifespan instead of a 5 or 10-year lifespan seen with Asphalt. The current method of patching up holes is not working, especially in the rainy season. It is a temporary fix and plasters do not fix broken bones.

The government does need to do a better job of maintaining and fixing the roads however with climate change effects including increasing temperatures and rainfall we have to look at the bigger picture. Extreme heat and flooding are two of the issues affecting the durability of our roads. Thus, in our solution maybe targeting the issue of flooding in Barbados could help alleviate some of this pressure. Techno-Bloc is a company that has come up with a solution to flooding in the form of permeable pavements, known as Inflo. If you have 2 minutes I suggest you watch this video which explains the benefits of permeable pavement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOIM2yR_B6k.

Techno-Bloc’s Inflo System – Permeable Pavement
Techno-Bloc’s Inflo System – Permeable Pavement

Flooding occurs in urban and suburban areas where vegetation once maintained the natural cycle of water instead there are concrete roads and sidewalks which block the natural flow of water below the surface. Permeable Pavement is the low cost, environmentally friendly solution that allows water to filter through below the surface and back into the water table, preventing flooding seen on the left-hand side of the diagram below.

Permeable pavement
Permeable pavement on the left and normal asphalt or cement paving on the right causing backflow and flooding

Inflo also reduces the heat island effect, an issue where the temperature sensitive asphalt absorbs heat and causes surface temperatures to rise.

 

Additional Reads:

Would a Road Use Levy be Effective in Mitigating Barbados’ Pothole problem?


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Bianca Cave

Bianca has a BSc in Biomedical Science and has just completed an MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of Sussex in the UK. The focus of her masters dissertation was on renewable energy in Barbados and would consider this one of her main areas of interest. As well as, ways we as an island can come together and empower each other to create a more resilient and sustainable community. She hopes to go back to the UK and work for a few years in both development organisations and sustainable technology companies before returning home to Barbados.

Bianca Cave has 7 posts and counting. See all posts by Bianca Cave