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Underbelly plows have certain benefits over traditional front mounted plows. Underbelly plows have an ability to adjust the downward pressure of the blades. The benefit to this feature is that freezing rain and snow packed roads can be better scraped which results in less salt applied and clearer streets than a traditional front mounted plow. The Village has lightened the amount of pressure operators can apply to lessen impacts on the road surface.
Additional benefits include:
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The scrape marks occur in areas where the profile of the pavement is slightly high. As a function of resurfacing, the profile of the road is often changed. Centerline joints, mid lane seams, manhole elevations and butt joints are slightly ‘high’ making plowing with either an underbelly or front mounted unit able to scrape these areas leaving white marks in the first season of road resurfacing.
No, the surface scrapes do not impact the structural integrity of the roadway. Bituminous mixtures rely on the sand and asphaltic cement matrix to ‘bind’ the aggregates together from a structural standpoint and the effects of the plowing are more of an aesthetic concern than a pavement life issue. Due to local geology, in almost all cases the course aggregates (dolomite) used by bituminous mix producers employed on our projects are of the highest quality and exceed the Illinois Department of Transportation's (IDOT) requirements. As such, the individual stones are not degraded as much as other aggregates if ‘exposed’ during plowing operations. The asphalt coating the surface of the stone usually abrades off after the first year and the ‘salt-and-pepper’ visual is less dramatic in subsequent years.
It is important to recognize the many factors that impact pavement lifecycle. The number one factor is age. The wearing surface of the road should last fifteen years assuming the road base is solid and preventative maintenance is done. A strong second factor is traffic volume and truck traffic. The third factor to consider is freeze thaw cycles and our ability to keep water from getting under the surface pavement. Crack sealing road centerlines and refraction cracks are key to extending pavement life.