Sidewalks seem like an everyday part of our lives, especially if we live in a city or neighborhood that is lined with them. Like all the best engineering feats, sidewalks need an ingenious design to make them durable and long-lasting. There is much more to their construction than meets the eye. How long do concrete sidewalks last? It depends on its design, installation, and usage.
How Long Do Concrete Sidewalks Last?
On average, the expected lifespan of concrete sidewalks is 80 years. That is quite a long time! However, cities might expect their concrete sidewalks to last only 25 years because of constant heavy traffic. The real-life expectancy of any sidewalk depends on its design, and a sound design can make it need fewer repairs and last longer. How can it last longer? Let’s look at the following elements below.
Elements That Affect Sidewalk Lifespan
All pavements have a subgrade to stabilize the top layer. For example, asphalt roads have multiple layers, their thickness depending on the amount of expected traffic. Concrete sidewalks also have a subgrade to stabilize the pavement against seasonal changes and soil shifts.
The thickness of the sidewalk itself should also be enough to ensure stability from forces below and above. The thickness will depend mainly on the soil type upon which it sits and how much traffic it will get. Light traffic over a sand or gravel base will need a minimum pavement thickness of 4 inches, but heavy traffic over silt or clay will need at least 6-inch thick concrete.
Stormwater runoff can wreak havoc if the roads and sidewalks do not channel it smoothly into the nearest reservoirs or storm drains. Sidewalks need to be on a slope or tilt to allow water to drain completely without overwhelming nearby storm drains.
The soil type will depend on the topography. Maryland soil can be sandy or clay-like. Ideally, the soil should have enough nutrients and oxygen to nourish grass, trees, etc., along the sidewalks. The soil should also be stable enough for concrete installations.
Tree placement is a complex issue that can cause sidewalk upheaval and cracking if done improperly. There are many different designs to accommodate the full needs of street trees to flourish into maturity.
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