• Question for fellow Civil engineers: Are Tar or Asphalt roads better than cement concrete roads? I've tried to list a few basic differences I've gathered from the Internet; but would appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

    Cement concrete roads are in general better than the tar or asphalt roads. Here are some of the reasons -

    Durability and Maintenance

    Durability of the cement concrete roads is at least 3x better than the asphalt roads. The wear and tear is limited and does not require frequent maintenance.

    The asphalt road gets easily damaged through heavy rainfalls, floods and changing weather conditions. Can easily develop cracks and potholes because of the weight and oil leakages from trucks, busses and other heavy vehicles. Cement roads, on the other hand offer much better resistance to environmental changes.

    In general, the average lifespan of a properly constructed tar road vs cement road is ~8 years vs. 50 years.

    Speed and Cost of Construction

    Tar roads are faster to construct and require considerably lesser investment. On the other hand, concrete roads require heavy machinery to construct a cement road. Overall costs involved in transport and maintenance of the machinery involved is higher as well. Consider the curing required for cement roads, it takes time and a necessary step in construction of cement road.

    Mileage of Vehicles

    It's observed, and I stand corrected; that the vehicles running on cement roads offer much better fuel efficiency compared to tar roads. I invite fellow civil engineers to explain why this happens. Is this because of the friction?

    Skid Resistance

    Asphalt roads offer better skid resistance over cement concrete roads. However, modern developments in cement road construction takes care of this problem. Vehicles running within the prescribed speed limits need not worry about skidding on wet roads.

    Environment friendliness

    Asphalt produces greenhouse gases when melted for paving. Asphalt is a residue during the distillation of petroleum. Cement roads, on the other hand are more environment friendly than tar roads.

    Heating of Tyres

    I've been informed that the cement roads do not heat up the rubber tyres as much as tar roads do. I always thought the otherwise. I'd be happy to learn more about this.

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  • Kaustubh Katdare


    I've recently had an opportunity to drive on Samruddhi Mahamarh - An express highway between Nagpur and Mumbai. It's a cement road - and I couldn't feel more confident driving on it.

    I rode continuously between 100 - 120 Kmph and there was no issue of tyres heating or friction. I think cement roads to have an edge over the tar roads.

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  • Bruce Wathan


    The debate between tar and cement roads has been ongoing for many years, with each option having its own set of advantages and disadvantages. I will offer a deeper look at both tar and cement roads and compare the two to determine which is better.

    Tar roads, also known as asphalt roads, are made of a mixture of aggregates, such as gravel, sand, and crushed rock, that are mixed together with asphalt cement.

    This mixture is then laid down and compacted to create a smooth and durable road surface. Cement roads, on the other hand, are made of concrete, which is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone.

    One of the primary advantages of tar roads is their flexibility. Tar roads can expand and contract with changes in temperature, which makes them more resistant to cracking and other forms of damage. In contrast, cement roads are more rigid and prone to cracking, particularly in areas with extreme temperatures.

    Another advantage of tar roads is their ability to be repaired easily. Cracks and potholes can be filled with new asphalt, which can extend the life of the road and prevent more significant damage from occurring.

    Repairing cement roads, however, is more complicated and time-consuming, as damaged sections need to be removed and replaced entirely.

    Tar roads also offer better traction, especially in wet or icy conditions. The texture of the asphalt surface provides more grip, making it safer for drivers. Cement roads, on the other hand, can be slippery in wet conditions, which can increase the risk of accidents.

    Cement roads, however, have some advantages over tar roads as well. For one, they are more durable and can last for up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. Tar roads, in contrast, typically last between 10 and 20 years before needing to be repaved.

    Cement roads are also more resistant to heavy traffic and heavy loads, making them ideal for use in areas with high traffic volume, such as highways and airports. Tar roads, while durable, are not as strong and can become damaged more easily under heavy loads.

    Cement roads also require less maintenance than tar roads. While repairs can be more complicated, they are less frequent, and the surface of the road requires less upkeep overall. This can make cement roads a more cost-effective option over the long term.

    In terms of cost, tar roads are generally less expensive to install than cement roads. However, the initial savings can be offset by the need for more frequent repairs and repaving over time. Cement roads are more expensive to install initially, but they require less maintenance and can last longer, making them a better investment over time.

    In conclusion, both tar and cement roads have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two depends on a variety of factors, including climate, traffic volume, and budget.

    Ultimately, the decision comes down to which option is best suited to the specific needs of the area and the environment in question.

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  • Steve Gracia


    No one talked about the Noise Pollution aspect of the debate between cement (concrete) roads and tar (asphalt) roads.

    When a vehicle moves on the road, a significant portion of noise pollution arises from interaction between tyres and the road surface. It's called tyre-road noise or rolling noise.

    I think this is very crucial in determining whether to construct a tar road or a cement concrete road.

    There is a significant difference between the noise produced by tyres moving on both types of road. It's because of the texture of the road and surface properties of both materials.

    Asphalt roads have a smoother and more flexible surface compared to concrete roads.

    The flexibility of asphalt helps absorb some of the vibrations caused by tires rolling over the surface, reducing the overall noise generated.

    Additionally, asphalt roads can be designed with specific surface textures, such as open-graded or stone matrix asphalt, which allow air to escape from beneath the tires, further decreasing tire-road noise.

    In contrast, concrete roads typically have a stiffer and rougher surface, leading to increased vibrations and noise when tires roll over them.

    The joints and grooves in concrete roads, which are necessary for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, can also contribute to noise generation.

    Additionally, concrete surfaces tend to become rougher over time due to wear, which can exacerbate the noise pollution issue.

    It's important to note that advancements in road surface technology and materials are continuously being made to address the noise pollution issue.

    For instance, new types of concrete surfaces with optimised textures or noise-reducing additives are being developed to reduce tire-road noise. Similarly, improvements in tire design can also help reduce the noise pollution.

    The difference in noise pollution between concrete and asphalt roads is mainly due to their surface properties and the way they interact with vehicle tires.

    Asphalt roads generally produce less tire-road noise due to their smoother and more flexible surface, while concrete roads tend to generate more noise due to their stiffer and rougher surface.

    However, ongoing research and advancements in materials and design are helping to mitigate noise pollution from both types of roadways.

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  • Kaustubh Katdare


    Very interesting points shared.

    I've recently had a chance to drive on both types of roads. My experience is as follows -

    Tar Road - Is far smoother than the cement concrete road. My car made absolutely no noise and the car was almost gliding on it.

    Cement Road - Not just as smooth. Noticeable bumps at speeds above 100 Kmph.

    I think we can settle the debate by concluding that both types of road have their own advantages and disadvantages. Cement roads are better in terms of long term maintenance costs. But in terms of overall ride quality, tar roads are much better.

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