Low-cost road trial could bring big benefits to rural areas

06 June 2022

A road treatment being trialled in Ipswich has the potential to reduce dust and maintenance costs for suitable gravel roads, while also potentially providing a cost-effective way to create more reliable local road infrastructure.

Growth, Infrastructure and Waste Committee Chair Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the new low-cost technique had been applied to Hodgsons Road in Walloon to test and demonstrate its suitability for local roads.

“The approach is to simply bitumen seal the existing gravel pavement, without altering the pavement depth or road alignment,” Mayor Harding said.

“If successful, it will provide a low-cost, sealed surface to a gravel road that would otherwise not meet the criteria for the full expense of designing and constructing a sealed road.

“It also reduces the gravel road maintenance cost on roads it is applied to.”

Division 4 Councillor Russell Milligan said there are potentially many benefits to the road treatment method.

“It is good for the environment as gravel roads lose about 10mm to 15mm per year under traffic,” Cr Milligan said.

“The initial loss is through dust, which is the fine materials being lost. After that, the stones previously held in by the fine materials are also lost.

“The bitumen seal protects against this loss of valuable pavement material and reduces the dust nuisance to local residences.”

Division 4 Councillor Kate Kunzelmann said gravel roads would need to meet specific criteria to be considered for this treatment.

“It would only be suitable for well-drained unsealed roads with low traffic volumes, such as ‘no through roads’. The existing alignment and pavement depth would need to be adequate,” Cr Kunzelmann said.

Councillor Kunzelmann said the trial site at Hodgsons Road, Walloon would be monitored to provide a better understanding of roads where this approach would be most suitable.

“Other councils have trialled this method with success, and we have been able to apply those learnings to our trial to see how well it performs in Ipswich,” Cr Kunzelmann said.