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A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or some form of conveyance, including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines a road as "a line of communication (travelled way) using a stabilized base other than rails or air strips open to public traffic, primarily for the use of road motor vehicles running on their own wheels", which includes "bridges, tunnels, supporting structures, junctions, crossings, interchanges, and toll roads, but not cycle paths".
Maintenance is becoming an increasing problem in the United States. Between 1997 and 2018, the number of existing roads too bumpy to drive on compared to roads with decent surfaces has increased by 11%, mostly due to potholes that are not being properly addressed.
Road design is part of highway engineering. Structural road design is designing a road for its environment in order to extend its longevity and reduce maintenance. The Shell pavement design method is used in many countries for the design of new asphalt roadsides.
Road surface composed of a thin layer of crushed stone 'chips' and asphalt emulsion. It seals the surface and protects it from weather, but provides no structural strength. It is cheaper than asphalt concrete or concrete. In the United States it is usually only used on low volume rural roads.
Roads are designed and built for primary use by vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Storm drainage and environmental considerations are a major concern. Erosion and sediment controls are constructed to prevent detrimental effects. Drainage lines are laid with sealed joints in the road easement with runoff coefficients and characteristics adequate for the land zoning and storm water system. Drainage systems must be capable of carrying the ultimate design flow from the upstream catchment with approval for the outfall from the appropriate authority to a watercourse, creek, river or the sea for drainage discharge.
Processes during earthwork include excavation, removal of material to spoil, filling, compacting, construction and trimming. If rock or other unsuitable material is discovered it is removed, moisture content is managed and replaced with standard fill compacted to meet the design requirements (generally 90–95% relative compaction). Blasting is not frequently used to excavate the roadbed as the intact rock structure forms an ideal road base. When a depression must be filled to come up to the road grade the native bed is compacted after the topsoil has been removed. The fill is made by the "compacted layer method" where a layer of fill is spread then compacted to specifications, under saturated conditions. The process is repeated until the desired grade is reached.
Older concrete pavements that develop faults can be repaired with a dowel bar retrofit, in which slots are cut in the pavement at each joint, and dowel bars are placed in the slots, which are then filled with concrete patching material. This can extend the life of the concrete pavement for 15 years.
The process consists of pumping a cementitous grout or polyurethane mixture through holes drilled through the slab. The grout can fill small voids beneath the slab and/or sub-base. The grout also displaces free water and helps keep water from saturating and weakening support under the joints and slab edge after stabilization is complete. The three steps for this method after finding the voids are locating and drilling holes, grout injection and post-testing the stabilized slabs.
Various government agencies and private entities, including local news services, track and report on road conditions to the public, so that drivers going through a particular area can be aware of hazards that may exist in that area. News agencies, in turn, rely on tips from area residents with respect to certain aspects of road conditions in their coverage area.