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Understanding And Preventing Alligator Cracks In Your Pavement

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One of the common issues that people see with asphalt surfaces is a condition called alligator cracking. They get their name from the pattern formed by the shallow cracks in the asphalt, which are very similar to that of the scales on an alligator. If your roadway is suffering from this condition, you're going to have to have the asphalt removed and a whole new asphalt foundation applied. It's the only way to restore the structural integrity of the road. Luckily, you can avoid the development of these structural cracks with a bit of care and maintenance.

How Does it Happen?

Alligator cracks are also sometimes called fatigue cracks, because they develop due to the pavement's inability to hold up to the weights and traffic volume that it's subjected to. Sometimes, it's a result of a poor installation that's left insufficient foundation support, but in many cases, it's caused by routine traffic that's exceeding the weight rating the road was constructed for. It can also be caused by poor maintenance, because a lack of routine maintenance can allow the roadway to deteriorate.

How Can You Avoid It?

Preventing alligator cracks starts with having the roadway paved by a reputable roadway service. If you aren't part of the initial construction, though, that part is out of your hands. From there, it's up to you to do the routine maintenance that the roadway needs.

Make sure that the road is clearly marked if it has a significant weight limitation. If it's only rated for moderate commercial vehicles, you don't want heavy construction trucks using it as a cut-through to the next neighborhood. Have the surface seal-coated once a year to help prevent any stress cracks, and address existing cracks immediately.

Neglected cracks are a common cause of this condition, because water seeps in under the asphalt surface and then freezes. The expansion of the water causes more cracks in the asphalt, which then intensifies the problem. And, water seeping below the surface of the asphalt can also erode the foundation, causing the cracks to spread even further and damage the structural integrity of the road.

By sealing the pavement surface every year and addressing any signs of damage immediately when you see them, you'll be able to prolong the life of your paved roadway and help keep alligator cracks at bay. The more proactive you are about caring for the asphalt, the less risk you'll face of deterioration and other issues. 

For more information, contact a company like Bituminous Roadways, Inc.