Runway-like surface for Eastern Freeway

May 20, 2013, 10:31 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

A mixture called polymer modified bitumen (PMB), used for constructing runways and also the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, was used to build the freeway

Unlike most times when potholes surface a few days after the inauguration of a road or a flyover, the motorists using the elevated section of the Eastern Freeway will get the best driving experience. The road has been constructed using a mixture called the polymer modified bitumen (PMB). This mixture, normally used for construction of runways, increases the life of the road and prevents potholes.

The construction of the four-lane, 500-metre-long tunnel on the freeway is complete. Two lanes of this tunnel will be used by south-bound traffic and the other two by north-bound. Pics/Abhinav Kocharekar

“We wanted to make the driving experience better so we decided to use PMB mixture against the bitumen mixture which is otherwise used,” said Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) executive engineer J R Dahane.

The Eastern Freeway getting finishing touches before being thrown open to the public this month

This is not the first time that PMB has been used as construction material. The 4.3-km-long Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) was also constructed using the same material. “Roads constructed using this material not only have a longer life compared to the other roads, but they also make for a good driving experience,” said MMRDA chief engineer Sharad Sabnis, who has been closely monitoring the work on the Eastern Freeway.

The freeway has been constructed using PMB, a mixture three times more expensive than the bitumen mixture normally used for roads

The polymer modified bitumen mixture is up to three times more expensive than the normal bitumen generally used to construct roads. Almost the same grade of material was used for constructing the road on the elevated stretch of the freeway. The authorities decided to use the mixture because, in the past, MMRDA has faced a lot of criticism due to potholes emerging on brand new roads.

Why PMB?

When PMB is used for construction, the level of accuracy on the road is very high as a machine is used to lay layers of it on the road surface. As human interference is less, the level of the road is accurate.

Bitumen mixture
Even though this mixture has been used to construct most of the city’s roads, experts say that the road constructed using this has less life compared to the PMB. The laying of the road using this material is done manually after which a road-roller is used to level it. The chances of vehicles skidding on this road are very high. 

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