By: Expert No. 8937, PE
A shopping center owner recently sued a paving contractor who had performed some asphalt repairs and maintenance for the prior owner. They alleged that the distressed conditions at the present time were due to improper work done by this Contractor several years earlier. This very large shopping center was designed with sufficient grade that the water flowed quite rapidly over the surface to the collection area. From there, it flowed to the storm drain catch basins. However, when it was constructed, no concrete swale or gutter was installed to carry the water from the collection points to the catch basins, and the water had to flow over the surface of the asphalt concrete.
As a result of wetting the pavement from irrigation water and drying by the sun, thermal cracks developed in the areas where the water collected. Because the Contractor had previously done some repairs in this area, he was automatically guilty of causing these thermal cracks. These cracks and the discoloration of the slurry seal were all due to the over-watering of the landscaping and resultant runoff on the site. Most problems associated with asphalt concrete pavements are attributable to insufficient structural section or landscape water.
Discoloration and thermo cracking of asphalt concrete pavement due to landscape water runoff.
The present owner had nothing to do with the original construction and determination of the structural section; however, he has responsibility for the damage caused by landscape water runoff. Several options were available to him at no or very little cost to solve this problem. Forensic investigation provided evidence that the Contractor had in fact damaged a water line while making one of the prior repairs, and he was responsible for not only redoing his pavement repair but also for repairing the water line and replacement of the saturated subgrade in that area. The present owner, though not successful in procuring relief from the Contractor, subsequently installed a concrete gutter in the water collection areas to protect his investment.