It’s common to encounter road construction while traveling one of America’s highways. Road construction often causes delays in traffic and frustration. Yet, the mammoth vehicles used in the trade may also evoke awe and wonder. Wandering across one of these, often orange, vehicles at work is like catching glimpse of a majestic beast.
How are roads constructed? According to Milton Cat, a leading provider of road construction vehicles, constructing a highway often begins with the removal of dirt, rocks, trees, and vegetation. Next, the foundation is laid and finally, the pavement is poured atop the foundation. Each step in this process requires heavy equipment; mammoth like tractors.
Vehicles used in the construction of highways may be divided into several categories: Motor Graders, Cold Planers, Vibratory Soil Compactors and Asphalt Pavers. Each with a unique job to do.
Motor Graders are often referred to as “the blade.” Typically, they are three axle vehicles with a large “blade” for grading the road or creating a level surface.
Cold Planers remove a portion of the road’s surface. This refreshes the road, allowing it to become smooth again. Often, pavement removed from the surface of roads is reused to make cement. According to Writgen, a leading manufacturer of Cold Planers, Planing began as a hot process, however, technique in Cold Planing came about due to carbide tipped “point attack cutting tools” borrowed from the mining industry.
Vibratory Soil Compactors, heavy vehicles with a steel drum as the front axle, cause stability in the highway’s foundation. These large vehicles apply pressure to the loose soil of the Earth’s crust. When done correctly, soils no longer shifts or sinks. Some, such as the Cat CPB56, possesses a toothed drum.
Asphalt Pavers are complex vehicles that mix the raw materials that compose the top layer of the road as it’s poured. High production units, such as the Volvo Blaw-Knox possess a forward bed that receives raw materials from a semi-truck. The paver looks much like a backward pickup truck.
On your next road trip, while encountering road work, take a moment to ponder the complex tools used in getting the job done. They’re large and impressive pieces of innovation.