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Rapid Void Detection Beneath Flexible Pavement Systems


Roadway collapses into underground cavities is a growing problem that has impacted almost every major city. As these holes open up, it not only disrupts traffic but also has the potential for significant loss of life and property. Large roadway collapses are the eventual progression of a problem that initiates as a small void beneath a pavement system. Typically, the voids start as soil particles carried by free water are removed from the surrounding matrix into open conduits beneath city streets. As the soil migration continues the void continues to grow…eventually, collapsing in a catastrophic fashion.

Currently, utilities expend a significant amount of effort to identify voids near their networks before they are large problems. Explorations methods generally encompass both non-destructive testing from the street surface as well as visual inspections of select lines. However, a significant portion of the system remains un-inspected due to the finance and inspection technique limitations.

Much of the inefficiencies associated with the current void detection methods can be reduced by first assessing recent technological advances and then secondly by optimizing test locations based on repair history. Presently there is a myriad of equipment used for void detection. However, much of the equipment has inherent limitations and can not be used for all situations. A smart Geographical Information System can be used to intelligently select locations where voids are probable based on system maintenance records, and field conditions. The Center for Infrastructure Research is working to match the anticipated field conditions with the most probably void detection equipment and then to extrapolate the data to identify potential void locations.


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