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Glossary of Road Maintenance Terms

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Are you new to the industry or just confused by some of the road maintenance terminology? Here is a brief glossary of some of the more widely used terms in the road maintenance industry. 

Road Maintenance Terminology At-A-Glance

Articulation: A machine with a jointed main frame that assists in steering the machine, allowing it to work in an angled configuration, and move forward in a straight line.

Density: The weight of material per unit of volume (generally in pounds per cubic foot or kilograms per cubic meter).

Grader: Any device either self-propelled or mounted on another machine used for final shaping and maintenance of soil or aggregate surfaces.

Gravel: A mix of stone, sand and fine-sized particles used as sub-base, base or surfacing on a road. In some regions, it may be defined as aggregate. Can come from natural or quarry sources.

Maintenance: Work done routinely on a road surface to keep the road smooth and allow water to flow off the driving surface.

Milling Tools: Rotating tools that fit in the moldboard of a road grader.  Used to help in land grading and removal of snow and ice.

Moisture Content: (in percentage) Quantity of water contained in a material.

Moldboard: The part of the grader, sometimes called the blade, used to cut, mix, windrow and spread material.

Optimum Moisture: The percentage of water (by weight) in material that allows it to be compacted to achieve greatest density.

Paved Road: Any road that has a semi-permanent surface placed on it such as asphalt or concrete.

Pit: An area where a natural deposit of stone, sand and/or fine material is removed from the earth.

Rehabilitation: Additional and more foundational road work that extends beyond routine maintenance.

Road Grader: A road maintenance machine with a long blade used to create a flat surface during the grading process.  Also referred to as a “grader” or “motor grader”.

Quarry: An area where solid stone is removed from the earth generally by ripping, drilling and/or blasting. The stone is then crushed and processed into useable sizes.

Segregation: A problem that arises when the coarse and fine material separates and no longer forms a uniform blend of material.

Unpaved Roads: Typically, a reference specifically to gravel surfaced roads.

Windrow: A small conical ridge or long, narrow accumulation of material placed by the grader while performing construction or maintenance operations.

Are there additional words and definitions you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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