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History of Paving

According to historians, the first indications of constructed roads date from about 4000 BC and evidence of these roads can still be seen today at Ur in modern-day Iraq and roads preserved in a swamp in Glastonbury, England.

The picture below shows the first Newcastle-Carlisle A69 road contract in progress in 170AD.

Engineer John Knapton has written about roads built by the Romans:

"...the Romans understood the need for drainage and a closely fitting surface. The quality control comprised the Roman soldier inserting his knife into the joint between pavers. If the blade entered the joint freely, the gap was too wide and the blade was subsequently inserted into the Ancient Briton responsible.

"Because the articulating front axle remained undiscovered until the 13th century, turning corners with Roman carts was no easy task. (one of the reasons for straight Roman roads). Consequently, at corners, ruts were carved into the road surfacing materials to encourage the carts around corners. The next picture shows a rut road in Pompei. Note also the stepping stones to keep pedestrians out of the mire."



"The Romans landed in Britain in 42BC, after several previous unsuccessful attempts. They landed on the north Kent coast, travelled west until the River Thames was fordable and then conquered Colchester & St. Albans heading north and north west. The Roman road network is amazingly similar to the present day UK trunk road network.

"It is interesting to note that the Romans feared the British and always preferred the perils of the North Sea to those of travelling the UK road network (little has changed in this respect).

They established Newcastle as their port in the North East of England where they came ashore to service Hadrian's Wall. Contrary to popular belief, Hadrian's wall does not mark the edge of the Roman Empire, the Romans continued north as far as Perth, and then felt that enough was enough."

"Not much happened in the world between 150AD and 1994 when JK introduced a few innovations into paving..."

. Throughout the 1980's there had been a number of paving projects performing poorly in town centres. To resolve this, JK introduced the use of steel fibre reinforced concrete roadbases installed by laser guided screeding machines.

"He also developed enhanced specifications for paver bedding sands whereby the sand finer than 75 microns was largely eliminated from the bedding material. The result of these changes is a perfectly satisfactory method of designing and constructing roads which are proving cost effective and durable. Collaborating with academics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), he has recently established the reasons for the enhanced performance of no fines bedding sands (well done Frank, Trevor, Les, Melanie & Pat at QUT).

The detailing of any project is crucial to long term performance. Placing pavers end to end along the edge tidies up the cutting operation - cutting between two similar materials hides defects. Also, ... the placing of small square pavers away from the edge has precluded the use of small, and therefore vulnerable, pieces right at the edge. The yellow and white tape on the road surface proved less successful and paint is now commonly preferred.

 One of the few things that did happen between 150AD and 1994 was Pine Street, Seattle in 1990. The original street failed in a few hours as a result of the bedding sand containing 10% fine material when it should have contained less than 1%. JK was engaged by Seattle Engineering Department to advise on the remedial work.

By changing the sand, a durable road has been constructed. The surface comprises three colours of granite pavers from California, Minnesota and Texas.

The road surface was constructed to a traditional Indian basket weave pattern. Because the Indians always included a deliberate fault in their weaving to keep out evil spirits, the designers of Pine Street did so likewise. It didn't work !

The road builders of the late 1800s depended solely on stone, gravel and sand for construction. Water would be used as a binder to give some unity to the road surface.

A Scot born in 1717, built about 180 miles of roads in Yorkshire, England (even though he was blind). His well drained roads were built with three layers: large stones; excavated road material; and a layer of gravel.

Modern tarred roads were the result of the work of two Scottish engineers, Thomas Telford and John Loudon McAdam. Telford designed the system of raising the foundation of the road in the center to act as a drain for water. Thomas Telford (born 1757) improved the method of building roads with broken stones by analyzing stone thickness, road traffic, road alignment and gradient slopes. Eventually his design became the norm for all roads everywhere. John Loudon McAdam (born 1756) designed roads using broken stones laid in symmetrical, tight patterns and covered with small stones to create a hard surface. McAdam's design, called "macadam