Lloveras, Baur and Stevens

Engineering Excellence Since 1956

The Importance of Roadway Underdrains

Historically, large portions of Pinellas County, Pasco County and Hillsborough County have had a very high groundwater table, and although we seen periods of drought, the rains always return to subtropical Florida, making groundwater a problem in this area. Generally roadway base in the Tampa Bay Area is made of limerock, crushed concrete or soil cement. Limerock is very susceptible to deterioration from groundwater intrusion. If limerock is chosen as the base material, then every effort needs to be made to keep groundwater from entering this base. If the limerock does deteriorate due to the presence of water, then potholes will form in the parking lot in the affected areas. Crushed concrete is less susceptible to base deterioration, however it suffers from quality control issues due to the fact that it is made from recycled concrete. Soil cement has inherent problems as well. There is one (1) major aesthetic problem with the utilization of a soil cement road base, and that is the fact that a soil cement base will cure due to the hydration of the cement within the base, which in turn will cause shrinkage. This shrinkage effect, which is not a structural failure in this type of road base section, will create hairline cracks throughout the asphalt-wearing surface. These shrinkage cracks are the result of a natural process that occurs during the curing of a soil cement road base. These shrinkage cracks are strictly a "non-aesthetic" feature that the community residents would observe throughout this project.

Regardless of which base material is chosen, we feel that underdrains are a good investment on many sites with private roadways such as private subdivisions, condominiums and mobile home parks. The general purpose of an underdrain is to lower the groundwater that lies underneath the roadway section. The underdrain will lower the groundwater underneath the pavement and transmit the groundwater into the storm sewer drainage piping system. Underdrains under the inverted crown roads in private roadways and parking lots would allow any saturated soils under the pavement to drain and thus assist in keeping the roadway base dry.

If you have any questions, please contact one of the engineers in our Clearwater engineering firm at 727-784-3965.

Private Pavement Maintenance

Our mobile home park and homeowners association clients often ask for our engineering recommendation regarding the sealing of the asphalt pavement covering the roadways and parking areas in their projects. The primary reason that some private property owners seal asphalt pavement is so that it will look black. People tend to think that roads should be black. When new asphalt is laid down, it has a black color due to the abundance of asphalt emulsion in the mix. When sunlight and the elements hit the pavement, the emulsion begins to oxidize and the color of the pavement turns to a light gray. Thus the real color of asphalt pavement should be considered to be light gray. The only reason to apply a sealer to asphalt roads is for aesthetics. The sealing does not help the structural integrity of the pavement and actually does more harm than good. The sealer clogs the pores of the asphalt making the surface of the pavement less flexible. This will ultimately lead to extensive hairline cracks in the surface. The sealer will soon begin to oxidize and fade, and in one to two years the pavement will be light gray with streaks from where the sealing application overlapped. The surface cracks will become very visible. We do not recommend that private roadways be sealed. Sealing will make the roads black for a short time, however, the long term maintenance problems far outweigh the short term aesthetics. The Florida Department of Transportation has thousands of miles of asphalt pavement to maintain, and they never apply sealers. We have checked with several government agencies, and they agree that sealing of asphalt pavement is detrimental to its structural integrity and long term life. If you have any questions, please contact one of the engineers in our Clearwater office at 727-784-3965.

Mobile Home Park Maintenance Issues

There are hundreds of mobile home parks in Pinellas County, Pasco County and Hillsborough County. Over the years, our engineering firm has designed over 250 manufactured home communities throughout the west coast of Florida. As these mobile home parks get older, several common maintenance issues arise. Roadway and parking area deterioration, settlement of the ground in open areas, and water and sewer pipeline failures are generally the big three.

All asphalt roadways need to be periodically repaved, but there are issues within mobile home parks that make repaving a complicated job. Drainage problems due to deterioration of pipes, damage to roadway base in the inverted crown, and the need for milling near curbs and sidewalks make mobile home park roadway repaving different form most repaving jobs.

When many older mobile home parks were constructed, land clearing debris was typically buried in holes that were dug where the mobile homes were to be placed. The good dirt was dug out of the hole, the clearing debris was placed in the hole, and a small amount of dirt was placed on top. Over time, the debris decomposes, which creates a settlement area on the surface of the ground.

The pipe materials used in the 1960s and 1970s were not has robust as those used today. These older pipes deteriorate over time leading to water leaks and sewer failures. These deteriorated pipes need to be replaced with new pipelines in order to prevent further damage within the mobile home park.

Our firm can assist homeowners associations, resident owner associations, community managers and maintenance personnel in the proper resolutions for these and other mobile home park maintenance issues. If you have any questions, please contact one of the engineers in our Clearwater engineering firm at 727-784-3965.