Transportation Research Record
Unpaved roads play a crucial role in the economic and social development of societies, linking rural communities to education, health services, and markets. The asset value of unpaved roads is low compared with national and provincial road networks, because agencies responsible for rural roads management lack the resources to assess and maintain the network properly. Lack of resources is especially critical in developing countries, where the majority of the population lives in rural areas and where few tools are available for sustainable management of the unpaved network. The main objective for this study was to develop and validate cost-effective maintenance standards for unpaved rural roads. The study was directed at improving the management process of unpaved road networks that serve rural populations. The scope was to develop maintenance standards that can be used by agencies in charge of network management, given available resources and technical skills. The developed four-step methodology evaluates an unpaved road network for 4 years, identifies the effects of maintenance treatments on the condition of roads from field data analysis, defines maintenance strategies, and develops optimal maintenance standards. The study was part of a 4-year project conducted at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, that resulted in the development of a sustainable management system for rural road networks in developing countries. The proposed standards were applied and successfully validated and were demonstrated to be adaptable to varying climates, budgets, traffic, and road structures.