Repetitive stress and strain on concrete leads to a constant deterioration in the quality of concrete. This can mean the creation of potholes, cracks in the concrete and general rough patches that may appear in the pavement: all of which are dangerous for driving. Additionally, these dangers are detrimental to the quality of the concrete over time, and in order to preserve it while maintaining a certain level of safety, concrete pavement preservation techniques have been developed and diamond grinding is among them. Other techniques include road slab stabilization, dowel bar retrofit, joint and crack sealing, cross stitching longitudinal cracks, and both full and partial depth repair. Diamond grinding, however, restores smoothness in rideability by removing imperfections in the concrete that are created during construction or natural wear by automobile use over the concrete.
Profile grinding helps prevent cyclical loading, a key cause of pavement deterioration.
The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) reports that the average lifespan of diamond ground pavement is roughly 17 years. However, one of the main causes for concrete deterioration is cyclical loading. Large trucks ride across bumps and dips in the road and end up bouncing on their suspension vertically, causing dynamic loading. The increased weight caused by the bouncing in dynamic loading results in higher impact stress on the pavement and lower shelf-life for the road itself. Smooth surfaces consequently help prevent dynamic loading, keeping the average lifespan of pavement just a little bit higher.
Diamond grinding removes a thin layer from paved surfaces, producing a grooved surface with superior wear tolerance, longevity, and surface friction.
The process of diamond grinding requires that a thin layer of hardened concrete and asphalt pavement at the surface be removed with diamond saw blades. These blades are placed closely together and are run over the concrete at a standardized distance in order to cut consistent grooves in the concrete leaving a flat surface with a slight, longitudinal texture. A portion of the Interstate 10 in California was the first highway to receive this treatment was in 1965. By 1965, the highway was 19 years old and since then has been ground twice more. As 60 years after its construction can prove, diamond grinding definitively improves the longevity of highway pavement.
While diamond grinding is primarily used to smooth out pavement to make ride ability more manageable, this process solves a myriad of other problems. There are plenty of problems that can arise in aged and traveled highway pavement. Just a few of the many problems are faults at joints and cracks, unacceptable noise levels, and slab warping caused by construction curling and moisture gradient. Though these are just a few of the many different concrete defects, each can be solved or alleviated through diamond grinding. While this is done on highways, diamond grinding can also be provided to automobile manufacturers in order to conduct tests on new models as well as tire test tracks to examine how effective tires will be on different types of pavements.
Probably the greatest benefit to diamond grinding is its profound ability to reduce accidents. Because the macrotexture has increased, water drains far better at the tire-pavement intersection and improves friction in wetter environments. Because diamond-ground surfaces have a longitudinal texture pattern, a high level of directional stability and reduced possibility of hydroplaning. Diamond ground surfaces are therefore much safer than ground otherwise treated, particularly for automobiles with wearing tires.
In addition to the benefits aplenty to diamond profile grinding, it does not improve pavement’s fatigue life in a significant way. The slab thickness is diminished only slightly and does not do much for extending the carrying capacity for a pavement. A slab may be ground at least three times while still adding traffic carrying ability. Since a diamond-ground surface is dry a large majority of the time, freeze-thaw issues are avoided and will not add any conditions, weather-related or otherwise, that would reduce pavement durability.
(Image source: Max Andrey, Pexels)