Structure for Supporting Vehicular Traffic

A structure for supporting vehicular traffic is supported by the ground and includes a panel and first and second longitudinally-extending foundations. The panel has a top surface on which vehicular traffic is supported, a bottom surface opposite the top surface, first and second lateral sides, a leading side and a trailing side. The leading and trailing sides space the first and second longitudinal sides from each other. The first and second longitudinally-extending foundations cooperate to support the panel such that a space is defined between the road surface panel and a surface of the ground.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application No. 61/259,250, filed on Nov. 9, 2009. This application also claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application No. 61/346,074, filed on May 19, 2010.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of design and construction of structures for supporting vehicular traffic.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventionally, non-elevated roadways are layered structures that are fabricated in place in contact with a prepared earth surface, which is underlying soil that has been excavated or filled and graded to a desired sub-grade elevation. The layered structure of the roadway typically includes a sub-base course that is formed from coarse aggregate that is laid upon the prepared earth surface, a base course comprising fine aggregates that are laid upon the sub-base course, and a surface course that includes one or more layers of portland cement concrete and/or asphalt concrete. Usually, the finished grade of the prepared earth surface corresponds closely to the final geometry of the finished roadway surface, and the depth of the sub-base, base, and surface courses remain consistent along the roadway, as the depth of each course is dictated by the anticipated loading and design life for the roadway.

Roadway construction typically occurs in three primary phases: earthwork, base preparation, and paving. During the earthwork phase, the existing grade of the earth is modified to produce a prepared earth surface having a desired sub-grade elevation and a profile dictated by the geometric design of the roadway. This process typically involves both excavation and filling to produce the desired sub-grade profile at all points along the length of the roadway. The earthwork phase of construction is time-consuming and expensive. Accordingly, minimizing the extent of required earthwork is a primary consideration during geometric design of a roadway. Land balancing, which is the practice of minimizing the amount of waste or borrow material is another important design consideration and is accomplished by balancing cut sections, where earth must be removed, and fill sections, where earth must be placed to produce the finished sub-grade.

Base preparation involves placing layers of sub-base material and base material upon the prepared earth surface to specified thicknesses. Both the sub-base material and the base material must be properly compacted in order to provide the support required by the surface course. As a practical matter, perfect compaction of the sub-base and base material is often not achieved, which can lead to structural failure of the roadway surface due to failure of the underlying base and sub-base material.

Paving is typically performed by laying portland cement concrete and/or asphalt concrete in place on top of the base course. In the case of portland cement concrete, reinforcing bars are often constructed on top of the base course so that they are embedded within the surface course in order to strengthen the portland cement concrete surface course. Furthermore, a portland cement concrete surface course may be constructed by installing form work that supports the portland cement concrete while it is being poured. Finally, it is preferable that portland cement concrete surface courses are not subjected to traffic loading for as much as one month after the concrete is poured, as curing is required for the concrete to reach its maximum compressive strength. As a result of the complexities involved in the foregoing process, roadway construction is costly and time-consuming

It would be desirable to have a roadway structure and a method for constructing a roadway that can be constructed quickly and reduces life-cycle costs as compared to conventional roadway structures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a structure for supporting vehicular traffic. The structure, such as a roadway or parking lot, is supported by the ground and includes a panel and first and second longitudinally-extending foundations. The panel has a top surface on which vehicular traffic is supported, a bottom surface opposite the top surface, first and second lateral sides, a leading side and a trailing side. The leading and trailing sides space the first and second longitudinal sides from each other. The first and second longitudinally-extending foundations cooperate to support the panel such that a space is defined between the road surface panel and a surface of the ground.

The first and second longitudinally extending foundations may be laterally spaced with respect to one another. Furthermore, the first and second longitudinally extending foundations may each have a lower surface that is disposed below the surface of the ground and an upper surface that supports the panel.

The first and second foundations may be reinforced concrete structures. The panel may also be a reinforced concrete structure.

The panel may be a precast concrete structure. Furthermore, the first and second foundations may be precast concrete structures. Alternatively, the first and second foundations may be cast-in-place concrete structures.

The first lateral side of the panel may be positioned such that it is disposed above the first longitudinally extending foundation and extends along the first longitudinally extending foundation. Likewise, the second lateral side of the panel may be positioned such that it is disposed above the second longitudinally extending foundation and extends along the second longitudinally extending foundation.

The first and second longitudinally extending foundations may extend continuously along the first and second lateral sides of the panel, respectively.

A shoulder may be formed on the upper surface of one of the longitudinally extending foundation for engagement with a least a portion of one of the lateral sides of the panel to restrain lateral motion of the panel with respect to the first and second longitudinally extending foundations.

At least one infrastructure element may be disposed on the surface of the ground below the panel.

A geothermal piping system that is disposed below the panel and at least partially below the surface of the ground. The geothermal piping system may be configured to provide geothermal heat to the panel.

A drainage system may be provided for receiving water from the panel. A water retention structure may be located below the panel for receiving and storing water from the drainage system. The water retention structure may have a surface area greater than that of the top surface of the panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The description herein makes reference to the accompanying drawings wherein like referenced numerals refer to like parts throughout several views and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a section view of a structure for supporting vehicular traffic according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a detail view showing an exterior foundation of the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a detail view showing an interior foundation of the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view showing the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a detail view showing a geothermal piping system that is provided in a space between the grade and the underside of a surface panel of the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 shows a storm water retention channel defined between adjacent foundations of the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 7 shows a drainage pond defined continuously underneath the surface panels of the structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view showing installation of a foundation according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a cross-section view of the foundation of FIG. 8 subsequent to installation.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the drawings, the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the disclosed embodiment.

FIG. 1 shows a structure 10 for supporting vehicular traffic according to the present invention. The structure 10 may be, for example, a roadway or a parking lot. The structure 10 includes a top surface 11 that is formed by a plurality of surface panels 12A-12D that are supported with respect to a ground surface 14 by a plurality of foundations, including a pair of exterior foundations 16 and one or more interior foundations 18. Provision of the foundations 16, 18 allows the roadway structure 10 to be constructed with minimal modification to the ground surface 14 and also provides a space 20 between the ground surface 14 and each of the surface panels 12A-12D. This allows infrastructure elements 22, such as water lines, sewer lines, electric lines, gas lines, cable television lines, and telephone lines to be placed upon the ground surface 14 below the roadway surface panels 12A-12D, thus eliminating the need for burial of the infrastructure elements 22.

Because the vertical alignment and cross-sectional profile of the roadway surface 11 will be dictated by the elevations of the foundations 16, 18, as well as by the thickness of the roadway surface panels 12A-12D themselves, the ground surface 14 does not have to be raised or lowered with the desired elevation and profile of the surface panels 12A-12D. Accordingly, where the vertical alignment of the structure 10 roughly corresponds to the existing grade, such as where the top surface 11 of the structure 10 is disposed within several feet above the ground surface 14, as it exists prior to construction, the structure 10 can be constructed with minimal modification to the ground surface 14 by way of cut or fill earthwork. Adjacent to the exterior foundations 16, the ground surface 14 can be raised to meet the elevation of the surface 11 of the structure 10 by back filling to provide a shoulder 24, such as an earthen shoulder. The should 24 could also be an aggregate shoulder, an asphalt shoulder, a poured concrete shoulder, or a precast concrete shoulder. Adjacent to the shoulders 24 and opposite the top surface 11, the ground surface 14 is contoured to provide a ditch 26 that receives storm water drainage from the top surface 11. Additionally, a drainage system including drain pipes 28 may extend from the space 20 underneath the top surface 11 to each of the ditches 26 to receive water from the top surface 11 of the structure 10 to allow drainage from the space 20. The drain pipes 28 may be part of a drainage system that is provided within the space 20 underneath the top surface 11 of the structure 10, and which includes channels (not shown) that extend along the length of the structure 10 to collect water between successive drain pipes 28 or other structures that are provided to remove water from the space 20 underneath the top surface 11 of the structure 10.

As shown in FIG. 2, the foundations 16, 18 are typically elongated rectangular or trapezoidal structures that are fabricated from portland cement concrete or other suitable materials. Depending upon design requirements, the foundations may be reinforced concrete structures. Also, any desired cross-sectional shape may be selected to satisfy design requirements.

The foundations 16, 18 extend at least in rough correspondence to the alignment of a longitudinal axis of the structure 10, such as a center line 30 (FIG. 4) of the structure 10. Furthermore, the foundations 16, 18 can be fabricated such that they are substantially continuous and uninterrupted in a direction corresponding to the center line 30 of the structure 10.

As shown in FIGS. 2-3, the foundations 16, 18 may be fabricated as precast concrete structures or as cast-in-place footings, such as trench and pour footings. Regardless of the manner of construction, the foundations 16, 18 are disposed partially within a trench 32 in the ground surface 14 and extend upward from the ground surface 14. The depth and width of the foundations 16, 18 below the ground surface 14 is selected to satisfy structural requirements and to extend below the frost-line in cold-weather regions, thereby reducing or eliminating movement of portions of the structure 10 due to freeze/thaw weather cycles. The height of the foundations 16, 18 above the ground surface 14 is selected based on the geometric design of the structure 10. As is well-known, when cast-in-place construction is employed, the portion of each of the foundations 16, 18 below the ground surface 14 may be fabricated by pouring portland cement concrete into the trench 32, while the portion of the foundations 16, 18 above the ground surface 14 may be fabricated with the aid of formwork (not shown) that is positioned in alignment with the trench 32 when the foundations 16, 18 are poured. Furthermore, the foundations 16, 18 could be fabricated by slip-forming, or the foundations 16, 18 could be precast concrete structures.

With reference to FIG. 2, an engagement structure, such as a shoulder portion 34, may be provided on each of the exterior foundations 16 to restrain lateral movement of the surface panels 12A-12D. The shoulder portion 34 can be formed on an upper end 36 of each of the exterior foundations 16. The shoulder portion 34 of the exterior foundation 16 is engageable with a lateral side 38 of the surface panel 12D that is adjacent to and supported by the exterior foundation 16. Engagement of the lateral side 38 of the surface panel 12D with the shoulder portion 34 of the exterior foundation 16 restrains the surface panels 12A-12D against lateral movement. Alternatively, this could be accomplished by securing the surface panels 12A-12D to the foundations 16, 18 using pins (not shown).

With reference to FIG. 3, each of the interior foundations 18 supports an adjacent pair of the surface panels 12A-12D. In particular, a longitudinally-extending joint 40 that is defined between an adjacent pair of the surface panels 12A-12D extends along each of the interior foundations 18. The longitudinally-extending joints 40 are defined by adjacent pairs of the lateral sides 38 of adjacent pairs of the surface panels 12A-12D. However, it should be understood that laterally-extending interior foundations could be provided in addition to or in lieu of interior foundations 18 that extend longitudinally, in which case, each foundation 18 would support longitudinally successive surface panels 12A-12D.

In order to provide stable support for the surface panels 12A-12D, an upper end 42 of each of the interior foundations 18 may be contoured to complementarily engage the bottom surfaces 44 of the adjacent pair of the surface panels 12A-12D in correspondence to the cross slope of the surface panels 12A-12D and cross slope changes between the adjacent pair of the surface panels 12A-12D. Also, the interior foundations 18 may include engagement structures (not shown) to restrain lateral movement of the surface panels 12A-12D with respect to the interior foundations 18, as described in connection with the exterior foundations 16.

As shown in FIG. 4, the surface panels 12A-12D are disposed on top of the foundations 16, 18 in a tile-like manner. The lateral sides 38 of each of the surface panels 12A-12D are positioned on top of a respective one of the foundations 16, 18 such that the lateral sides 38 each extend substantially parallel to their respective foundations 16, 18. In the case of a horizontal curve, the lateral sides 38 of the surface panels 12A-12D may be formed in correspondence with the horizontal curve of the roadway surface 12 and the resulting horizontal curve of the foundations 16, 18. Each of the roadway surface panels also has a leading edge 48 and a trailing edge 50. Adjacent pairs of the leading and trailing edges 48, 50 of adjacent pairs of the surface panels 12A-12D cooperate to define a transversely extending joint 46 between successive pairs of the surface panels 12A-12D in a direction corresponding to travel along the center line 30 of the surface 11 of the structure 10. The longitudinally-extending joint 40 between pairs of adjacent surface panels 12A-12D and the transversely-extending joint 46 between successive surface panels 12A-12D may include an expansion joint, a sealing material, or a structural interconnection between the adjacent and successive pairs of surface panels 12A-12D.

Each of the surface panels 12A-12D is a substantially planar structure. The surface panels 12A-12D are fabricated from portland cement concrete or other suitable materials, allowing the roadway surface panels 12A-12D to be fabricated in advance of their installation and, if desired, at a location remote from the job site. The geometry of each of the surface panels 12A-12D is dictated by the geometric design of the surface 11 of the structure 10, including the horizontal and vertical curvature of the surface 11, as well as required cross slope or superelevation. In order to facilitate installation and removal of the surface panels 12A-12D, lifting eyes (not shown) may be incorporated into each of the surface panels 12A-12D so that the roadway surface panels 12A-12D can be lifted by a crane or other apparatus for placement on the foundations 16, 18 or removal from the foundations 16, 18.

Subsequent to construction of the structure 10, maintenance can be performed selectively, by replacing the surface panels 12A-12D individually, as required. Additionally, access to the infrastructure elements 22 can be provided subsequent to construction by removing one or more of the surface panels 12A-12D, as required to provide access to the space 20 for utility work.

In addition to the infrastructure elements 22 discussed previously, it should be understood that other structures or features could be provided within the space 20 beneath the surface panels 12A-12D. As shown in FIG. 5, a geothermal piping system 60 may be provided at least partially within the space 20 underneath of the surface panels 12A-12D of the structure 10, as well as in the area below the grounds surface 14. Provision of the geothermal piping system 60 allows geothermal heat to be provided to the surface panels 12A-12D to reduce the need for snow and ice removal during wintertime in cold weather climates. This is accomplished by providing a section of subterranean piping 62 that is disposed sufficiently deep below the grounds surface 14 to allow heating of water within the subterranean piping 62. Geothermal system equipment 64, including pumps, control means, and related elements may be provided in the space 20 in order to pump the water from the subterranean piping 62 into a pipe 66. The pipe 66 carries water that has been heated by way of the subterranean piping 62. The pipe 66 may either rest on the ground surface 14, or may be attached to an underside of the roadway panels 12A-12D to allow geothermal heating of the surface panels 12A-12D. In addition to applicability on streets and roadways, such a system may also be employed when the structure 10 is utilized to construct a paving surface within a parking lot. In this case, the geothermal piping system 60 could further be used to deliver heating or cooling water by way of the pipe 66 into adjacent buildings, thus allowing the space underneath the structure 10 to be easily utilized to accommodate a geothermal heating or cooling system.

As another example of structures that may be provided below the surface panels 12A-12D of the roadway structure 10, FIG. 6 shows a storm water retention channel 70 that is provided between adjacent foundations 16, 18 of the roadway structure 10. The drainage channel 70 is defined entirely between adjacent pairs of the foundations 16, 18, such that water may or may not be in contact with the foundations 16, 18. The drainage channel 70 is defined by defining a channel with respect to the nominal ground surface 14 for receiving water 72 therein. If desired, the water may be allowed to percolate into ground surface 14, or the water may be retained within the drainage channel 70 by providing a liner material 74 in contact with the ground surface 14. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 7, a storm water retention pond 80 could be defined continuously underneath of the structure 10, in which case, the water between adjacent pairs of the foundations 16, 18 would be free to flow back and forth underneath the surface panels 12A-12D, as a channel would not be present for constraining the movement of the water laterally past the foundations 16, 18. Rather, the water would be contained by earthen banks at the periphery of the structure 10. It will be appreciated that either of the structures shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 would be well-suited to provision underneath a structure 10 that is utilized as a parking lot, as valuable real estate would not have to be utilized for construction of a separate drainage pond, and all or most of the water could percolate into the ground surface 14 and not have to run off site into a required drainage ditch.

One method for installation of the foundation 16, 18 of the structure 10 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 8-9. As shown in FIG. 8, a trench 100 is first dug with respect to the ground surface 14. The trench 100 is slightly larger in width than the foundation 16 that will be placed within it. The trench 100 is defined by trench walls 102 and a trench bottom 104. After the trench 100 has been dug with respect to the ground surface 14 to define the trench bottom 104, a pair of leveling pads 106 are placed within the trench 100, on the trench bottom 104. According to this method, the foundation 16 is a precast concrete structure. The leveling pads 106 are placed at locations corresponding to the ends of the foundation 16, such that two longitudinally-adjacent foundations 16 are supported by each leveling pad 106 and also such that each foundation 16 is supported by two of the leveling pads 106, one being placed at each end. The leveling pads are small in comparison to the foundations 16, 18. In particular, they are sized such that they may be easily moved into position within the trench 100 and placed at a desired elevation. This allows the desired elevation for the foundation 16 to be set by adjusting the elevational position of the leveling pads 106 without the need for leveling the entire foundation 16 in place. Thus, it will be understand that the leveling pads 106 are formed with substantially planar top surfaces for supporting the foundations 16, 18 during installation and are sufficient in size in terms of their contact area with respect to the trench bottom 104, to support the weight of the foundations 16, 18 during installation.

Once the leveling pads 106 are in place and at a desired elevational position, the foundation 16 may be placed upon the leveling pads 106. In particular, the foundation 16 is lowered into the trench 100 such that each of its longitudinal ends is disposed over one of the leveling pads 106. The leveling pads cause a central portion of the foundation 16 to be elevated with respect to the trench bottom 104, thus creating a cavity 108 underneath the foundation 16. Thus, in order to support the foundation 16, a layer of concrete 110 is poured in place into the cavity 108 underneath the foundation 16, as shown in FIG. 9. Once the concrete 110 has set, the trench 100 may be backfilled, even with the ground surface 14. This results in the upper end 42 of the foundation 16 being disposed above the ground surface 14 so that it may support one or more of the roadway surface panels 12A-12D by engagement with the bottom surface 44 thereof, as previously explained with reference to FIGS. 1-4.

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments, but to the contrary, it is intended to cover various modifications or equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. The scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures as is permitted under the law.

Claims

1. A structure for supporting vehicular traffic, the structure being supported by the ground, the structure comprising:

a panel having a top surface on which vehicular traffic is supported, a bottom surface opposite the top surface, first and second lateral sides, a leading side and a trailing side, wherein the leading and trailing sides space the first and second longitudinal sides from each other; and
a first longitudinally-extending foundation and a second longitudinally extending foundation that cooperate to support the panel such that a space is defined between the road surface panel and a surface of the ground.

2. The structure of claim 1, wherein the first and second longitudinally extending foundations are laterally spaced with respect to one another.

3. The structure of claim 2, further comprising:

the first and second longitudinally extending foundations each having a lower surface that is disposed below the surface of the ground and an upper surface that supports the panel.

4. The structure of claim 3, further comprising:

the first and second foundations being reinforced concrete structures; and
the panel being a reinforced concrete structure.

5. The structure of claim 4, further comprising:

the panel being a precast concrete structure.

6. The structure of claim 4, further comprising:

the first and second foundations being precast concrete structures.

7. The structure of claim 4, further comprising:

the first and second foundations being cast-in-place concrete structures.

8. The structure of claim 3, further comprising:

the first lateral side of the panel being disposed above and extending along the first longitudinally extending foundation; and
the second lateral side of the panel being disposed above and extending along the second longitudinally extending foundation.

9. The structure of claim 8, further comprising:

the first and second longitudinally extending foundations extending continuously along the first and second lateral sides of the panel, respectively.

10. The structure of claim 8, further comprising:

a shoulder that is formed on the upper surface of the first longitudinally extending foundation for engagement with a least a portion of the first lateral side of the panel to restrain lateral motion of the panel with respect to the first and second longitudinally extending foundations.

11. The structure of claim 3, further comprising:

at least one infrastructure element disposed on the surface of the ground below the panel.

12. The structure of claim 3, further comprising:

a geothermal piping system that is disposed below the panel and at least partially below the surface of the ground.

13. The structure of claim 3, wherein the geothermal piping system provides geothermal heat to the panel.

14. The structure of claim 3, further comprising:

a drainage system for receiving water from the panel; and
a water retention structure located below the panel for receiving and storing water from the drainage system.

15. The structure of claim 14, further comprising:

the water retention structure having a surface area greater than that of the top surface of the panel.

16. A structure for supporting vehicular traffic, the structure being supported by the ground, the structure comprising:

a panel having a top surface on which vehicular traffic is supported, a bottom surface opposite the top surface, first and second lateral sides, a leading side and a trailing side, the panel being a precast reinforced concrete structure, wherein the leading and trailing sides space the first and second longitudinal sides from each other;
a first longitudinally-extending foundation and a second longitudinally extending foundation that are laterally spaced with respect to one another and cooperate to support the panel such that a space is defined between the road surface panel and a surface of the ground, the first and second longitudinally extending foundations each having a lower surface that is disposed below the surface of the ground and an upper surface that supports the panel, and the first and second foundations being reinforced concrete structures;
the first lateral side of the panel being disposed above and extending along the first longitudinally extending foundation; and
the second lateral side of the panel being disposed above and extending along the second longitudinally extending foundation.

17. The structure of claim 16, further comprising:

a geothermal piping system that is disposed below the panel and at least partially below the surface of the ground, wherein the geothermal piping system provides geothermal heat to the panel.

18. The structure of claim 16, further comprising:

a drainage system for receiving water from the panel; and
a water retention structure located below the panel for receiving and storing water from the drainage system.

19. A method for building a structure for supporting vehicular traffic comprising the steps of:

placing a plurality of longitudinally extending foundations with respect to a surface of the ground such that a bottom surface of each longitudinally extending foundation is below the surface of the ground and a top surface of each longitudinally extending foundation is above the surface of the ground, each longitudinally extending foundation being laterally spaced with respect to an adjacent one of the longitudinally extending foundations;
positioning a plurality of panels on the longitudinally extending foundations in a tile-like manner such that the lateral sides of each panel are disposed above and extend along a respective foundation of the plurality of foundations.

Patent History

Publication number: 20110110717
Type: Application
Filed: Nov 5, 2010
Publication Date: May 12, 2011
Applicant: NOWAK & EISENHARDT LLC (Columbus, MI)
Inventor: Robert Eisenhardt (Richmond, MI)
Application Number: 12/940,109

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Road System (e.g., Elevated, Interchange) (404/1); Handling Or Treating Preformed Modular Unit (404/73)
International Classification: E01C 1/00 (20060101); E01C 5/00 (20060101); E01C 11/00 (20060101);