Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance

The standards for the maintenance of ACT community paths is famously documented in the Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance at 30 June 2012. Even without getting off your bike, as cyclist, it is clear to observe that the criteria for intervention is often exceeded.


Is 2012 not a bit old? No – here is why

We have use asphalt to build paths for decades. Asphalt surfaces are hardy but hate water. Small cracks can appear in an asphalt surface and once that appears water seeps through and begins to destroy the path. A pot of tar is enough to seal the cracks but this takes time and effort. TCCS rarely undertakes such maintenance of bike paths. Note too the life expectancy of between 10-20 years. Many in the paths in Belconnen are 40 years old – long overdue for replacement and repair.

Road pavements wearing surfaces have a life expectancy of between 10-20 years (International Infrastructure Management Manual – IPWEA). Road pavements deteriorate over time due to the impact of traffic, particularly heavy vehicles, and environmental factors. As the road surface wears and ages, small cracks develop in the pavement which permit water to enter the underlying surface of the pavement. Water infiltration, combined with the continual stress imposed by the flow of traffic, will considerably weaken the pavement. If this happens potholes, major cracks, pavement deformation and ultimately road failure will result.

Road pavement, TCCS, accessed 21 April 2022.
Example of a road surface. Road pavement, TCCS, accessed 21 April 2022.

If our asphalt bike paths are end of life, what can be done. The TCCS webpage has the following recommendations for roads and the asphalt bike paths would be treated similarly. The treatment depends on the level of damage. Tree root damage can be only fixed with root guards.

Once a pavement has reached failure condition, or the end of its functional life, resurfacing and remedial maintenance, eg. filling potholes, becomes less and less effective. At this stage alternative options for rehabilitation or reconstruction are considered. These include;

– strengthening the pavement by asphalt overlay,
reconstruction of the pavement by insitu recycling, which involves breaking down (pulverising) the existing pavement materials, adding stabilising materials, re-compaction and asphalt resurfacing; and
total pavement reconstruction, which involves the removal of existing pavement materials and subsequent rebuilding of the pavement.

Road pavement, TCCS, accessed 21 April 2022.

The ACT Standard to for active travel, the MIS05, includes bike paths and recommends root guards to stop the deformation of paths from tree roots. These are easy to identify as cracks across the path. The roots raise the path to cause bumps.

damage path, Aranda hill, CBR Cycle Route C5
Root damage on a the CBR Cycle Route C5 path, Aranda hill, CBR Cycle Route C5

MIS05 standards are not new

The wheels turn very slowly in TCCS as can be seen from how long the Active Travel Standard took to be finalised in the ACT – 12 years. The Active Travel Facilities Design Municipal Infrastructure Standard 05 (MIS05) was not finalised until 2019 but has a long history going back to 2007. It replaced the Design Standard for Urban Infrastructure Works Section 13. MIS05 Edition 1 Revision 1 was released in June 2007 with a Supplement released 1 May 2011. The next draft was in 2018 and this document received only minor alterations for the final release in 2019.


ACT Guidelines for footpath maintenance 2012

The following quotes are from the 2012 guidelines.

That we report the faults to Fix My Street was the recommended procedure 10 years ago with inspection within 3 days. It is to be doubt TCCS gets even close to the 3 days. The current path survey has been going on for over a year and is still not finished. Recent estimate for rectification of Fix My Street repairs is an average of 52.2 days. We know however that much of the bike infrastructure has not been repaired in years.

Requests to repair community paths are received from the public through Canberra Connect on 13 22 81 or via the ACT Government’s online service ‘Fix My Street’ which is available at http://www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au. Requests are forwarded to Roads ACT who endeavour to inspect the path within three working days of receiving the request.

Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance, ACT Government 2012, 1.

To keep this article short, we will only focus on asphalt path defects here but the document includes the intervention level and repair method for concrete paver and concrete path defects too.

Without height variation, crack sealing is recommended for cracks up to 15 mm wide. Weed poisoning is recommended on paths overgrown with grass and weeds. Height changes of just 15 mm require pavement reconstruction or overlay. Tree root damage is repaired by “overlay and match into existing path or remove asphalt and realign footpath” or “cut roots and replace asphalt, match into existing path.”

Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance, ACT Government 2012, 2.

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