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Developing Standard Test Methods to Determine the Mechanistic Properties of Pavement Layers for Concrete Pavement Design and Performance Analysis


Concrete pavement design processes being used today all assume an elastic response of the subgrade and the foundation layers without conducting appropriate tests to determine the elastic limits or even the critical stresses or strains within the pavement layers. The use of empirical data to quantify the fatigue life of the pavement structure further aggravates this issue. Since the durability of the pavement layers plays as big a role as the proper stiffness in the performance of the pavement structure, the detrimental effects of the changes in moisture and freezing and thawing on mechanistic properties of the pavements are not rigorously evaluated. The identification or development of appropriate test methods and associated test protocols to address these issues will provide the pavement designer with a mechanistic method to determine how various pavement layers will contribute to the longevity of the pavement structures. A review of the forensic studies of failed concrete pavements that the lack of consideration of such mechanistic information is a major cause of concrete pavements having less than desirable performance. The use of the newer 3-D finite element programs will tremendously facilitate the incorporation of the results of the methods and protocols suggested here.


The main objective of this research is to develop, evaluate and demonstrate the benefits of standard test methods to determine:

  • Pavement layer elastic limits

  • Pavement layer durability

  • Pavement layer fatigue limits


The ever-increasing weight of trucks and the additive impact of overlapping load effects in adjacent wheel loads have significantly increased the stresses in the concrete pavements that have caused premature failures primarily because of the failures in the supporting layers of concrete pavements. The use of the proposed durability and fatigue tests can be used to demonstrate the benefits or the need for stabilization to meet the designer’s performance goals. The premature failure of even one concrete pavement along with the impact on the traveling public will result in funds that far exceed the cost of this project. With 3-D Finite Element Programs that currently exist the results of this research can immediately be used. Though it may be desirable to automate the impact in the design systems.


Update design method

Sponsoring Committee:AKP20, Design and Rehabilitation of Concrete Pavements
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Richard B Rogers and Dr. Soheil Nazarian
Date Posted:04/18/2018
Date Modified:04/25/2018
Index Terms:Standardization, Test procedures, Mechanical properties, Pavement layers, Concrete pavements, Pavement performance, Pavement design,
Cosponsoring Committees:AKG60, Geotechnical Instrumentation and Modeling

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