Definition and Explanation :
Flexible Pavements are constructed from bituminous or unbound material and the stress is transmitted to the sub-grade through the lateral distribution of the applied load with depth.
Flexible pavement is composed of a bituminous material surface course and underlying base and subbase courses. The bituminous material is more often asphalt whose viscous nature allows significant plastic deformation. Most asphalt surfaces are built on a gravel base, although some 'full depth' asphalt surfaces are built directly on the subgrade. Depending on the temperature at which it is applied, asphalt is categorized as hot mix asphalt (HMA), warm mix asphalt, or cold mix asphalt. Flexible Pavement is so named as the pavement surface reflects the total deflection of all subsequent layers due to the traffic load acting upon it. The flexible pavement design is based on the load distributing characteristics of a layered system.
It transmits load to the subgrade through a combination of layers. Flexible pavement distributes load over a relatively smaller area of the subgrade beneath. The initial installation cost of a flexible pavement is quite low which is why this type of pavement is more commonly seen universally. However, the flexible pavement requires maintenance and routine repairs every few years. In addition flexible pavement deteriorates rapidly; cracks and potholes are likely to appear due to poor drainage and heavy vehicular traffic. Also See: Road Distresses
A valuable advantage of flexible pavement is that it can be opened for traffic within 24 hrs after completion. Also the repair and maintenance of flexible pavement is easy and cost effective.
Today 96% of all paved roads and streets in Pakistan are surfaced with asphalt. Almost all paving asphalt used today is obtained by processing crude oils. Man-made asphalt consists of compounds of hydrogen and carbon with minor proportions of nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen.