BENTONG: Motorists travelling on the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway can soon expect a smoother, more comfortable journey.
The Works Ministry has started using polymer-modified asphaltic (PMA) concrete in its road upgrading and building projects, including those for the Kuala-Lumpur-Karak stretch.
PMA, according to Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, is a new, innovative method that could enhance the quality of roads compared with conventional ones.
As part of the 10th Malaysia Plan, the National Economic Action Council had agreed that PMA be used on five per cent of new projects.
"Compared with conventional asphaltic concrete, PMA has a lower life cycle cost and can accommodate higher axle load," he said at the launch of the "Usage of polymer-modified asphaltic concrete in road maintenance and projects" at Padang Tras, Bentong, yesterday.
PMA is a mixture of natural or synthetic polymer materials with conventional bitumen. Its rubber-like surface is highly resistant against rutting and cracking and absorbs little water, which is the cause of cracks in roads.
"The cost of PMA is 1.7 times more than the conventional ones but over 20 years, we can save about RM200,000 for every kilometre of road in yearly maintenance work," Shaziman said.
The lifespan of conventional asphaltic concrete is 10 years.
The government spent RM5 billion between 2001 and 2010 to maintain all federal roads.
Shahziman said that PMA would not be the only method the ministry would use to build and upgrade roads.
"The methods employed may differ, depending on the local conditions."
PMA will be mainly used for roads in areas with heavy rain and high incidences of flooding, such as in Kelantan.
Shaziman said RM220 million was spent every year to repair roads damaged by rains and floods.
Because roads built with PMA do not crack easily, the formation of potholes could also be greatly reduced, he added.
The efficacy of PMA has been tested in several locations, including the road from Karak to Bukit Tinggi, the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway and Sections 340 to 345 of Jalan Persekutuan 2 in Kuantan.
Heavy usage of roads also contributed to deterioration, said Shaziman, adding that there were 19.3 million registered vehicles on the road.
"Damaged roads must be repaired immediately as they can cause accidents.
"This year alone, the government has allocated RM15 million to upgrade 30 accident-prone areas nationwide. Sixty per cent of the work has been completed and all the projects will be ready by the end of the year."
On another matter, Shaziman said the ministry was taking steps to reduce global warming and save electricity costs by installing light-emitting diode (LED) street lighting.
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