Throughout his campaign, President Donald J. Trump won over a huge portion of the population by calling attention to the country's "failing" infrastructure.
He noted that most of our highways were built in the middle part of the last century and that most have not been improved or repaired to any great extent between their original construction and now. He pledged to not only revamp the US’s infrastructure but also to put Americans back to work getting it done.
Is it possible?
When it comes to the rebuilding of America’s highway infrastructure, it just might be! Consider the following four benefits of reinforced soil in the building or repairing of US highways and you will see that some of these strategies can be cost effective enough to actually make sense.
How geogrids factor into reinforced soil
Before looking at the benefits of reinforced soil in the rebuilding of America’s roadways, there is one thing you may want to understand first. That would be geogrids. These are grids comprised of cross bars of synthetic materials that when placed as a reinforcement barrier work to keep soil within, mitigating the damage of expansion and contraction, thereby making the road much more stable and structurally sound. These geogrids are laid out over soil, keeping it in place prior to the pouring of asphalt. However, they are also used to reinforce steeply inclined soil and rock on the sides or roads, which will be discussed in more detail below.
1) Reinforced soil improves structural capacity
Not only do geogrids work to keep the soil in place but they also work to improve structural capacity in terms of weight and use over time. In the absence of geogrids, roads quickly sink into overly moist soil under the asphalt and/or dry up and crack when earth bakes dry much like the cracked clay you see along roadsides in Georgia and states like New Mexico.
2) Reinforcement allows for the use of lower-grade soils
In the absence of geogrids to reinforce soil, a better grade of soil must be used. These soils will work better to retain shape and structural integrity but not nearly to the extent that reinforced soil would work. What is the bottom line here? That’s exactly it! A lower bottom line because lower-grade soil costs less than higher-grade soil. That’s a given.
3) Construction time can be greatly reduced
With geogrids keeping soil in place and reinforced, actual construction time can be greatly reduced. Here again, this keeps the cost of construction down because as the old saying goes, ‘time is money.’ If you can save time you can save money and that is vitally important when looking at the hundreds of thousands of highway miles which need to be rebuilt or repaired.
4) A reduction in the amount of land necessary
As mentioned above, geogrids for soil reinforcement can help to keep the soil within steep inclines in place. This, in turn, cuts down on the amount of space needed to build or rebuild that road. Just as saving time saves money, so too does saving space. This is less land that needs to be purchased and of course with the going price of real estate, that is a very lot of money indeed.
These are just four of the benefits of using reinforced soil in the rebuilding of America’s highway infrastructure, but there are enough enumerated here to show you that there really is a chance that Trump can keep his campaign promises. If you can rebuild our highway infrastructure within a cost effective budget, putting Americans back to work, it can be done.
Now will it? That’s the question of the day.