In British Columbia, in the mid 1800’s, roads were nothing more than dirt tracks in the valleys or cart trails carved out of the sides of the rock in the mountains. They were treacherous, uneven, uncomfortable to travel on and poorly maintained. Today, because of the use of aggregates, technology, alternate building materials and aggregate compounds, we are able to move freely and comfortably anywhere in the province.
Our modern roads have a solid foundation of base materials and drainage materials, topped with an engineered asphalt that is designed for our varied climatic conditions. Our bridges are engineered to be anchored to the bedrock and use concrete for the supports and running surface, our tunnels are bored through rock and coated in steel and concrete. They are designed for high volume usage, maintained on a regular basis and connect our neighborhoods, communities and cities. But that’s not all we use to get around. Aggregates and technology have given us so many more travel options to choose from now.
When we travel long distances by rail we rely on the tracks and ties to stay in place as the train moves along. The aggregate used in the rail bed and in between the ties is a big part of that stability. If air travel is your preferred method, you should know that the planes wouldn’t fly without the re-enforced concrete for the runways and terminals. The escalator wouldn’t run if it couldn’t be anchored to the concrete. Elevators, moving sidewalks, staircases, walkways all need aggregates and the concrete that aggregates are used in to make these work.
Elevated rail systems must have a solid foundation to withstand the weights and forces of the trains. Their support columns and arches are engineered to withstand temperature variations, expansion and contraction and earth movement equivalent to a small earthquake. The right combination of aggregates, alternate materials and technology are the key elements to making the system stable and functional.
Boats need piers and terminals to dock to. The piers and terminals need the aggregate base to build on. The concrete for the terminal needs the aggregates for the mix so the concrete is strong. Without aggregates we would all have very long walks ahead of us.