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WSDOT Pavement Guide

Main Menu (List of Modules)


1. Welcome & Introduction. General document premise,
pavement history & overview.

2. Pavement Types. Flexible and rigid pavement basics,


types and recycling.

3. Materials. Aggregate, asphalt and portland cement and


their associated material tests.

4. Design Parameters. Subgrade, traffic loads,


environmental and drainage design inputs.

5. Mix Design. Mix design overview and the principal


methods of HMA and PCC mix design.

6. Structural Design. Empirical and mechanistic-


empirical structural design approaches.

7. Construction. Major pavement construction steps,


equipment, issues and variables.

8. QA & Specifications. Quality assurance and different


specification types.

9. Pavement Evaluation. Evaluation methods,


measurements and pavement distress/damage.

10. Maintenance & Rehabilitation. Typical methods of


both with a focus on overlay design.

11. Pavement Management. Pavement lifecycle, cost


analysis and management systems.

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WSDOT Pavement Guide

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1.1 Introduction - Welcome

1 Welcome
Welcome to the Washington State Department of Transportation's Pavement Guide Interactive. This
document (or "Guide" for short) is a multimedia CD-ROM based document whose primary purpose is to
provide a general pavement overview covering all aspects from materials to design to construction to
maintenance. Many sections offer supplemental information beyond this general overview in a series of
in-depth or WSDOT practices pages. It functions as a “Web site” that resides on a CD-ROM and
requires only a PC/Mac and minimal freeware to access the information. All total, it consists of 275
Web pages, 2500 images, 50 animations, 14 videos, and 11,000 hyperlinks. The following subsections
describe the target audience and intended function of the WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive.

1.1 Target Audience


In a broad sense, this WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive is motivated by the desire to assist those
both inside and outside the pavement community including contractors, government agencies, private
consultants as well as future industry members. As a result, it is applicable at a broad range of potential
users including engineers, architects, technicians, equipment operators, inspectors, managers and college/
vocational students.

1.2 Function
The WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive functions both as a learning tool and a ready reference; users
can learn about pavements as well as use it as a reference to look up typical values, methods, practices
and resources. Learning is comparable to that of an instructor-led classroom course and locating
information for reference is relatively straightforward. Specific motivation for the Pavement Guide
Interactive is multifold:

● Provide a multimedia, interactive product that will benefit those who want basic pavement
knowledge. As such, this Guide can be useful for Federal, State and local agencies,
inspectors, design consultants, contractors, operators and students.

● Provide in one interactive product, the major features associated with designing and delivering
pavements.

● Improve the connection between different pavement aspects such as mix design, structural

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1.1 Introduction - Welcome

design, construction, and maintenance/rehabilitation.

● Increase awareness of included products and documents such as MultiCool, a multi-layer


flexible pavement cooling simulation for use in construction operations.

1.2.1 Self-Directed Learning Tool


The WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive is a self-directed learning tool. The term “self-directed
learning” refers to learning and teaching methods that rely on the direction and guidance of the learner
such as distance learning, and learning from computers or video. As a learning tool, the Guide is
designed to provide you with:

1. A broad and well-rounded introduction to pavement in the areas of pavement types, materials,
design considerations, mix design, structural design, construction, quality assurance,
specifications, evaluation, maintenance and rehabilitation, and pavement management.

2. The option to explore in-depth information and WSDOT practices where applicable.

3. The option to investigate other sources of information on the Web or in print form through the
use of extensive references.

After covering a pavement concept in the WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive, you should, in general,
be able to:

● Describe the pavement concept covered

● Describe the importance of this concept

● Describe when this concept applies

● Describe the typical equipment, methods and procedures used

● Discuss and interpret typical measurement values encountered

● Apply this concept in actual practice

1.2.2 Pavement Reference

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1.1 Introduction - Welcome

The WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive is also an extensive pavement reference. Users can browse
the Guide or use the search tool to look up typical values, methods, practices and resources. It can also
be used to assemble multimedia pavement presentations or lectures through simple cut-and-paste of text,
pictures, videos and animation.

The rest if this introductory module provides a bit of pavement history as well as a brief overview of
pavements today.

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1.2 Introduction - History

2 History
In its most general sense, a road is an open, generally public Major Topics on this Page
way for the passage of vehicles, people, and animals. The
earliest human road builders predate recorded history by 2.1 Roman Roads
thousands of years. With the advent of modern man, road
building - the purposeful construction of general public ways 2.2 Telford Pavements
- became a common sign of an advancing civilization. 2.3 Macadam Pavements
Covering these roads with a hard smooth surface (pavement)
helped make them durable and able to withstand traffic and 2.4 Early Bituminous Pavements
the environment. Some of the oldest paved roads still in
existence were built by the Roman Empire. 2.5 Early Portland Cement Concrete
Pavements

2.6 Summary

2.1 Roman Roads


By in large, Roman roads (see Figure 1.1) were constructed during the Republican times - the oldest road, Via
Appia, dates back to 312 B.C. (Amergence Interactive, 2001). At its height, the Roman road network
consisted of over 100,000 km (62,000 miles) of
roads, which is about equal to the length of the
U.S. interstate system. By law, all of the
public was entitled to use Roman roads, but the
maintenance of the roadway was the
responsibility of the inhabitants of the district
through which the road ran (which, in general,
is the way the U.S. views roads today). As the
Roman Empire declined and was split in two in
395 A.D., its road network declined as well.
However, the superior quality and structure of
its pavements have allowed many Roman roads
to survive to this day.

A typical Roman road structure (see Figure


1.2), as seen in the United Kingdom, consisted
of four basic layers (Collins and Hart, 1936):

● Summa Crusta (surfacing). Smooth,


polygonal blocks embedded in the
underlying layer.

● Nucleus. A kind of base layer composed of gravel and sand with lime cement.

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1.2 Introduction - History

● Rudus. The third layer was composed of rubble masonry and smaller stones also set in lime mortar.

● Statumen. Two or three courses of flat stones set in lime mortar.

Figure 1.2: Roman Pavement Structure Near Radstock, England


(after Collins and Hart, 1936)

As can be seen, Roman pavements were quite thick - on the order of almost 0.9 m. Roman road construction was not
inexpensive. Updated construction estimates of the Appian Way are about $2,000,000 per km (updated estimates following
Rose, 1935 and Leger, 1875).

2.2 Telford Pavements


The first insight into today's modern pavements can be seen in the pavements of Thomas Telford (born 1757).
Teleford served his apprenticeship as a building mason (Smiles, 1904) and extended his masonry knowledge to
bridge building. During lean times, he carved grave-stones and other ornamental work (about 1780).
Eventually, Telford became the "Surveyor of Public Works" for the county of Salop (Smiles, 1904), thus
turning his attention more to roads. Telford attempted, where possible, to build roads on relatively flat grades
(no more than a 1 in 30 slope) in order to reduce the number of horses needed to haul cargo. Telford's
pavement section was about 350 to 450 mm (14 to 18 inches) in depth and generally specified three layers. The
bottom layer was comprised of large stones 100 mm (4 inches) wide and 75 to 180 mm (3 to 7 inches) in depth
(Collins and Hart, 1936). It is this specific layer which makes the Telford design unique (Baker, 1903). On
top of this were placed two layers of stones of 65 mm (2.5 inches) maximum size (about 150 to 250 mm (6 to 9
inches) total thickness) followed by a wearing course of gravel about 40 mm (1.6 inches) thick (see Figure
1.3). It was estimated that this system would support a load corresponding to about 88 N/mm (500 lb per in. of
width).

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1.2 Introduction - History

Figure 1.3: Typical Telford Road (after Collins and Hart, 1936)

2.3 Macadam Pavements


Macadam pavements introduced the use of angular
aggregates. John MacAdam (born 1756 and
sometimes spelled "Macadam") observed that
most of the paved U.K. roads in early the 1800s
were composed of rounded gravel (Smiles, 1904).
He knew that angular aggregate over a well-
compacted subgrade would perform substantially
better. He used a sloped subgrade surface to
improve drainage (unlike Telford who used a flat
subgrade surface) on which he placed angular
aggregate (hand-broken with a maximum size of
75 mm (3 inches)) in two layers for a total depth
of about 200 mm (8 inches) (Gillette, 1906). On
top of this, the wearing course was placed (about
50 mm thick with a maximum aggregate size of 25
mm) (Collins and Hart, 1936). Macadam's reason
for the 25 mm (1 inch) maximum aggregate size
was to provide a "smooth" ride for wagon wheels. Thus, the total depth of a typical MacAdam pavement was
about 250 mm (10 inches) (refer to Figure 1.5). MacAdam was quoted as saying "no stone larger than will
enter a man's mouth should go into a road" (Gillette, 1906). The largest permissible load for this type of
design has been estimated to be 158 N/mm (900 lb per in. width). In 1815, Macadam was appointed "surveyor-

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1.2 Introduction - History

general" of the Bristol roads and was then able to use his design on numerous projects. It proved successful
enough that the term "macadamized" became a term for this type of pavement design and construction. The
term "macadam" is also used to indicate "broken stone" pavement (Baker, 1903). By 1850, about 2,200 km
(1,367 miles) of macadam type pavements were in use in the urban areas of the UK. MacAdam realized that
the layers of broken stone would eventually become "bound" together by fines generated by traffic. With the
introduction of the rock crusher, large mounds of stone dust and screenings were generated (Gillette, 1906).
The increased use of these fines resulted in the more traditional dense graded base materials. The first
macadam pavement in the U.S. was constructed in Maryland in 1823.

Figure 1.5: Typical Macadam Road (after Collins and Hart, 1936)

2.4 The Rise of Bitumen


Up through the time of Macadam pavements, bituminous binders had not been used. Although Roman roads
used basic lime cements to hold their large stones together, roads of the late 1700s and early 1800s did not use
a binder material and usually relied on aggregate interlock to provide cohesion. Bituminous binding materials
and surface layers began to show up in pavements in the early 1800s.

2.4.1 Tar Macadam Pavements


A tar macadam road consists of a basic macadam road with a tar-bound surface. It appears that the first tar
macadam pavement was placed outside of Nottingham (Lincoln Road) in 1848 (Hubbard, 1910; Collins and
Hart, 1936). At that time, such pavements were considered suitable only for light traffic (i.e., not for urban

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1.2 Introduction - History

streets). Coal tar, the binder, had been available in the U.K. from about 1800 as a residue from coal-gas
lighting. Possibly this was one of the earlier efforts to recycle waste materials into a pavement!

Soon after the Nottingham project, tar macadam projects were built in Paris (1854) and Knoxville, Tennessee
(1866) (Hubbard, 1910). In 1871 Washington, D.C. extensively used a "tar concrete" for road construction.
Sulfuric acid was used as a hardening agent and various materials such as sawdust, ashes, etc. were used in the
mixture (Hubbard, 1910). Over a seven-year period, 630,000 square meters (156 acres) were placed. In part,
due to lack of attention in specifying the tar, most of these streets failed within a few years of construction.
This resulted in tar being discredited, thereby boosting the asphalt industry (Hubbard, 1910). However, some
of these tar-bound surface courses in Washington, D.C., survived substantially longer - about 30 years. For
these mixes, the tar binder constituted about 6 percent by weight of the total mix (air voids of about 17
percent). Further, the aggregate was crushed with about 20 percent passing the 2.00 mm (No. 10) sieve. The
wearing course was about 50 mm (2 inches) thick. Hot tar paving products have not been used in the U.S. for
many years.

As a side note, the term "Tarmac" was a proprietary product in the U.K. in the early 1900s (Hubbard, 1910).
Actually it was a plant mixed material, but was applied to the road surface "cold." Tarmac consisted of
crushed blast furnace slag coated with tar, pitch, portland cement and a resin. Today the term "tarmac" is
generic and generally refers to airport pavements (however, inappropriately).

2.4.2 Road Mix Surfaces


Road mixes, at the time often known as "retread", "oil processed", "surface mix" or "mixed-in-place" roads,
refer to the mechanical mixing of asphalt and aggregate directly on the road bed to form a thin 25 - 100 mm (1
- 4 inch) wearing course. Typically, the construction process was as follows (Urquhart, 1934):

1. Place, grade and compact the aggregate road bed.

2. Place the asphalt binder.

3. Mix the asphalt binder and aggregate together using a tractor-pulled disk or harrow, windrow the
mixed material in the center of the road, turn it, then redistributed across the road and smooth it.

4. Compact the resultant wearing course until no movement is discernible under the roller wheels.

5. After a few weeks to several months, spread a cover coat of fine aggregate over the surface and
apply a seal coat.

These pavements were not true hot mix asphalt pavements because the asphalt was often applied as an

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1.2 Introduction - History

emulsion and the mixing was done directly on the road.

2.4.3 Sheet Asphalt Pavements


The first pavements made from true hot mix asphalt (HMA) were called sheet asphalt pavements. The HMA
layers in this pavement were premixed and laid hot. Baker (1903) describes this pavement system as:

● A wearing course 40 to 50 mm (1.6 to 2 inches) thick composed of asphalt cement and sand.

● A binder course about 40 mm (1.6 inches) thick composed of broken stone and asphalt cement.

● A base layer of hydraulic cement concrete or pavement rubble (old granite blocks, bricks, etc.).
Generally, this layer was 100 mm (4 inches) thick for "light" traffic and 150 mm (6 inches) thick for
"heavy" traffic (Baker, 1903).

Sheet asphalt became popular during the mid-1800s with the first ones being built on the Palais Royal and on
the Rue St. Honore in Paris in 1858 (Abraham, 1929). The first such pavement placed in the U.S. was in
Newark, New Jersey, in 1870. Sheet asphalt pavements are no longer built today.

2.4.4 Bitulithic Pavements


The final steps towards modern HMA were taken by Frederick J. Warren. In 1901 and 1903, Warren was
issued patents for an early HMA paving material and process, which he called "bitulithic". A typical bitulithic
mix contained about 6 percent "bituminous cement" and graded aggregate proportioned for low air voids. The
concept was to produce a mix which could use a more "fluid" binder than was used for sheet asphalt. Warren
received eight patents in 1903. A review of the associated claims reveals that Warren, in effect, patented
HMA, the asphalt binder, the construction of HMA surfaced streets and roads, and the overlay of "old" streets.
A rather complete set of patents.

In 1910 in Topeka, Kansas, a court ruling found that asphalt concrete mixes containing 12.5 mm (0.5 inch)
maximum size aggregate did not infringe on Warren's patent (Steele and Himmelman, 1986). Thus, HMA
mixes thereafter became oriented to the smaller maximum aggregate sizes. A typical "Topeka mix" consisted
of 30 percent graded crushed rock or gravel (all passing 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) sieve, about 58 to 62 percent sand
(material passing 2.00 mm (No. 10) and retained on 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve) and 8 to 12 percent filler
(material passing 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve). This mixture required 7.5 to 9.5 percent asphalt cement.

In 1910, Edwin C. Wallace, a retired employee of Warren Brothers, invented Warrenite-Bitulithic. It consisted
of an approximately 25 mm (1 inch) thick layer of "Finely divided mineral matter coated with bitumen rolled

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1.2 Introduction - History

into a lower layer of large stone, small stone, stone dust and bitumen" (Wallace, 1910). This was basically a
sheet asphalt wearing course over hot, uncompacted bitulithic. By adding the thin wearing course, the large
aggregate of the Bitulithic mixes were not exposed directly to heavy, steel rimmed wheels that could cracked
the aggregate and result in mix degradation. By 1920, Warren's original patents had expired in the U.S.
(Oglesby and Hewes, 1962) but the legacy of the Topeka mix lived on as reflected by the U.S. tendency
towards finer mixes.

2.5 The Rise of Portland Cement Concrete


(ACPA, 2001)
Although portland cement has been around since 1824 (when Joseph Aspdin, a Leeds mason took out a patent
on a hydraulic cement that he coined "Portland" cement) it was not directly used in roadway pavements until
the late 1800s.

2.5.1 The Original PCC Pavement


Portland cement concrete (PCC) was essentially invented in 1824. In 1889, George W. Bartholomew proposed
building the first PCC pavement in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Bartholomew was convinced that his "artificial
stone" (the term "concrete" had not come into use yet) was a suitable substitute for the brick and cobblestone
of the day. In order to convince the city of Bellefontaine to allow him to build his PCC pavement,
Bartholomew agreed to donate all the materials and post a $5,000 bond guaranteeing the pavement's
performance for five years. In 1891, the first truly rigid pavement was mixed on site and placed in 5 ft. square
forms. In order to match the performance and appearance of the standard cobblestone pavements of the day,
Bartholomew scored 100 mm (4 inch) squares into the PCC surface to give better footing for horses (a practice
continued to this day, although not for horses anymore). By 1914, portland cement had been used to
pave 2,348 miles of roadway.

2.5.2 Innovations in Performance


By the 1930s a number of states started using de-icing salts to remove ice and snow from
pavements. About the same time, surface scaling developed on many pavements in northern
climates. Research by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and several state highway
departments found that freeze and thaw cycles, accelerated by the use of de-icing salts, were
causing the problem. Further research lead to the development of air entrained PCC that was
largely freeze-thaw resistant.

During the 1920's and 1930's, PCC pavement was usually constructed directly on the
underlying soil. This practice was satisfactory until the 1930s when highway truck traffic

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1.2 Introduction - History

increased to the point where pumping distresses began to appear on roadways carrying heavy
truck traffic. Research into this phenomenon resulted in recommendation of a non-pumping
layer called a subbase (although now this layer is often referred to as the base layer) be placed
under the PCC slabs. Gravel, crushed stone, and slag were commonly used as subbase
material. In the late 1940's, California began using cement-treated granular bases under
concrete pavements. This practice quickly spread to other states.

2.5.3 Innovations in Construction

In 1946, two Iowa highway engineers, James W. Johnson and Bert Myers,
conceptualized the slip form paver. In 1949, the Iowa Highway Department
constructed the first slipformed roadway, a 3 m (9 ft.) wide, 150 mm (6 inch) thick
section of county road. By placing two lanes side-by-side, a typical 6 m (18 ft.) wide
county road could be built. The paver attached to a ready mix concrete truck, which
would discharge its load into the paver, then pull the paver forward. In 1955, Quad
City Construction Company developed an improved, self-propelled, track-mounted
slipform paver capable of placing 8 m (24 ft.) wide slabs up to 250 mm (10 inches)
thick. In just a few years, several equipment manufacturers were marketing slipform
pavers capable of placing concrete up to four lanes wide.

During the same period, central mixing replaced on-site mixing on most paving jobs.
Evaluations by several agencies showed that central-mixed concrete could be hauled
from the mixer to the slipform paver in non-agitating dump trucks with no loss in
workability or quality.

It was also during the late 1940's and early 1950's that paving contractors began
experimenting with sawed concrete joints. Previously, joints were formed in the plastic
concrete with jointing tools. These hand-formed joints often created a rough ride. After
early attempts in Kansas and California, sawing was used on several projects in 1951,
and soon became a standard construction method.

2.6 Summary
Road and pavement building has often been used as a benchmark of a civilizations advancement. The quality
and strength of many of the ancient roads has helped them survive to this very day. The Via Appia in Rome is
now over 2,300 years old and is still used today. As the use of slave labor declined, smaller more economical
roads, such as Telford and Macadam roads, began to arise. Around the beginning of the 19th century, binding
agents began to be used to assist aggregate cohesion and improve the durability of roads. By the end beginning
of the 20th century, the two principal pavement types, flexible and rigid, had taken on many of their modern
qualities and were being built throughout the U.S.

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1.2 Introduction - History

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

3 Pavement Overview
Major Topics on this Page

3.1 Pavement Purpose 3.1 Pavement Purpose

3.2 Material Definitions


Typically, pavements are built for three main purposes:
3.3 Pavement Types
1. Load support. Pavement material is generally stiffer than 3.4 Traffic on Pavements
the material upon which it is placed, thus it assists the in
situ material in resisting loads without excessive deformation or cracking.

2. Smoothness. Pavement material can be placed and maintained much smoother than in situ material. This
helps improve ride comfort and reduce vehicle operating costs.

3. Drainage. Pavement material and geometric design can effect quick and efficient drainage thus
eliminating moisture problems such as mud and ponding (puddles).

3.2 Material Definitions


● Hot mix asphalt (HMA). A combination of aggregate and asphalt binder mixed together at elevated
temperatures that forms a hard, strong construction material when cooled to ambient temperatures. HMA
is known by many names such as "asphalt concrete" (AC or ACP), "asphalt", "blacktop" or "bitumin". The
WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive makes a conscious effort to consistently refer to this material as
HMA. HMA is distinguished by its design and production methods and includes traditional dense-graded
mixes as well as stone matrix asphalt (SMA) and various open-graded HMAs. Other types of bituminous
surfaces (such as slurry seals and bituminous surface treatments) as well as various types of in-place HMA
recycling are separate from HMA but are also covered in the Guide.

● Portland cement concrete (PCC). A combination of aggregate, water and portland cement to form a hard,
strong construction material when set. PCC is known by several names including "cement" and
"concrete". The WSDOT Pavement Guide Interactive makes a conscious effort to consistently refer to
this material as PCC. PCC is distinguished by its design and production methods.

● Concrete. Term often used to describe portland cement concrete. However, in its more generic form
"concrete" refers to any conglomeration or coalescence of materials usually held together by a binding
substance. Thus, asphalt concrete and portland cement concrete are two types of concrete with the
"asphalt" and "portland cement" referring to the binding material.

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

3.3 Pavement Types


Note: see Module 2, Pavement Types, for more detailed information.

Much of this country relies on paved roads to move themselves and their products rapidly and reliably throughout the
transportation system. Currently, there are over 3.96 million public centerline road miles (8.28 million lane miles) in
the U.S. and of this, 2.50 million miles (or about 63 percent) are paved (FHWA, 2002). Pavements can be generally
classified into two broad categories:

● Flexible pavements (see Figure 1.6 and 1.8). These are asphalt pavements (sometimes called bituminous
pavements), which may or may not incorporate underlying layers of stabilized or unstabilized granular
materials on a prepared subgrade. These types of pavements are called "flexible" since the total pavement
structure bends (or flexes) to accommodate traffic loads. Flexible pavements comprise about 82.2 percent
of U.S. paved roads.

● Rigid pavements (see Figure 1.7 and 1.8). These are portland cement concrete (PCC) pavements, which
may or may not incorporate underlying layers of stabilized or unstabilized granular materials. Since PCC
has a high modulus of elasticity, rigid pavements do not flex appreciably to accommodate traffic loads.
Rigid pavements comprise 6.5 percent of U.S. paved roads.

Figure 1.6: Flexible Pavement (SR 27) Figure 1.7: Rigid Pavement (I-90)

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

Figure 1.8: SR 395 South of Ritzville, WA Showing Both Flexible (Southbound - Left)
and Rigid (Northbound - Right) Pavements

The FHWA also identifies a third type of pavement, called a composite pavement. Composite pavements are
combination HMA and PCC pavements. Occasionally, they are initially constructed as composite pavements, but
more frequently they are the result of pavement rehabilitation (e.g., HMA overlay of PCC pavement). Modeling
these pavements depends on the composite action. For instance, an HMA overlay of rubblized PCC is typically
classified as a flexible pavement, while an HMA overlay of a PCC pavement with no fracture preparation typically
responds with rigid pavement characteristics (see Figure 1.9). Officially, the FHWA "composite pavement" category
is defined as a "mixed bituminous or bituminous penetration roadway" of more than 25 mm (1 inch) of compacted
material on a rigid base (FHWA, 2001). Tables 1.1 and 1.2 show a breakdown of U.S. roads.

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

Figure 1.9: Composite Pavement.


Taken during a widening project, this photo clearly shows the underlying rigid pavement slabs and the HMA overlay.

Table 1.1: U.S. Roads (data from FHWA, 2001)

Fraction of Total (in


Category
percent)

Paved Roads 63.4

Unpaved Roads 36.6

Table 1.2: U.S. Paved Roads (data from FHWA, 2001)

Fraction of Total (in


Category
percent)

Flexible Pavements 82.2

Composite Pavements 11.3

Rigid Pavements 6.5

Note: For the purposes of this Table, composite pavements are roughly defined as more
than 25 mm (1 inch) of compacted HMA on a rigid base. These would most likely be
classified as rigid pavements with a flexible wearing course.

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

3.4 Traffic on Pavements


Figure 1.10 shows that although U.S. road centerline miles have only increased by about 10 percent since 1960, U.S.
registered vehicles have increased by over 300 percent and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have increased by more
than 380 percent over that same time. In sum, our road network, which has not significantly expanded since 1960, is
now carrying over 3.8 times the number of vehicles. Moreover, truck (the most damaging type of vehicle) VMT is
increasing at an even faster rate than automobile VMT. A typical tractor-semi trailer combination averages 160 - 320
km/day (100 - 200 miles/day) in the U.S. for a total of 56,000 - 113,000 km (35,000 - 70,000 miles/year), which is
substantially more than the typical passenger vehicle (USDOT, 2000). Thus, pavement loading is growing at an even
faster rate than traffic (see Figure 1.11).

Figure 1.10: Growth of Vehicle Miles Traveled, Registered Vehicles and


Statute Miles of Roadway in the U.S. Since 1960 (from FHWA, 2000)

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

Figure 1.11: Growth of Rural Average Daily Load and Traffic in the U.S. Since 1970 (from FHWA, 2000)

Washington State Statistics

Washington State has 80,256 centerline miles of roadway, of which roughly 70 percent are paved. As of 2000, the
State population is just over 5.8 million (4.4 million or 76.5% of driver age and 4 million drivers licenses) with
over 5.2 million registered vehicles. These vehicles traveled approximately 54 billion miles in 2000 (an increase
of about 90 percent over the last 20 years) at an average of just over 10,600 miles per vehicle.

Washington State Roads WSDOT Paved Roads

Fraction of Total (in Fraction of Total (in


Category Category
percent) percent)

Paved Roads about 70 Flexible Pavements 87

Unpaved Roads about 30 Rigid Pavements 13

Note: For the purposes of this Table, only WSDOT roads were
considered. This represents about 7,000 centerline miles and
18,000 lane-miles of pavement.

Data sources:

WSDOT. (January 2001). Key Facts: A Summary of Transportation Information. WSDOT Finance and Administration Service
Center. Olympia, WA. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/KeyFacts/default.htm.

WSDOT. (May 1999). Washington State Highway Pavements: Trends, Conditions and Strategic Plan. WSDOT Field Operations
Support Service Center, Materials Laboratory. Olympia, WA. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/biz/mats/pavement/Pavement%20Plan.pdf.

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1.3 Introduction - Pavement Overview

What this means is that design, construction and maintenance practices must be conducted to the highest standard
possible because there is simply no room for error given the amount of money that is allocated and the amount of
traffic that must be accommodated.

One offshoot of this philosophy is an increased attention to pavement education and training. The better educated
and the more well-trained we are, the more likely we are to achieve and surpass even the highest standards; this
Guide was created as a small step.

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2.1 Pavement Types - Introduction

1 Introduction
Basically, all hard surfaced pavement types can be categorized into two groups, flexible and rigid.
Flexible pavements are those which are surfaced with bituminous (or asphalt) materials. These can be
either in the form of pavement surface treatments (such as a bituminous surface treatment (BST)
generally found on lower volume roads) or, HMA surface courses (generally used on higher volume
roads such as the Interstate highway network). These types of pavements are called "flexible" since the
total pavement structure "bends" or "deflects" due to traffic loads. A flexible pavement structure is
generally composed of several layers of materials which can accommodate this "flexing". On the other
hand, rigid pavements are composed of a PCC surface course. Such pavements are substantially
"stiffer" than flexible pavements due to the high modulus of elasticity of the PCC material. Further,
these pavements can have reinforcing steel, which is generally used to reduce or eliminate joints.

Each of these pavement types distributes load over the subgrade in a different fashion. Rigid pavement,
because of PCC's high elastic modulus (stiffness), tends to distribute the load over a relatively wide area
of subgrade (see Figure 2.1). The concrete slab itself supplies most of a rigid pavement's structural
capacity. Flexible pavement uses more flexible surface course and distributes loads over a smaller area.
It relies on a combination of layers for transmitting load to the subgrade (see Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1: Rigid and Flexible Pavement Load Distribution

Overall, it may be somewhat confusing as to why one pavement is used versus another. Basically, state
highway agencies generally select pavement type either by policy, economics or both. Flexible
pavements generally require some sort of maintenance or rehabilitation every 10 to 15 years. Rigid
pavements, on the other hand, can often serve 20 to 40 years with little or no maintenance or
rehabilitation. Thus, it should come as no surprise that rigid pavements are often used in urban, high
traffic areas. But, naturally, there are trade-offs. For example, when a flexible pavement requires major
rehabilitation, the options are generally less expensive and quicker to perform than for rigid pavements.

This section will discuss flexible and rigid pavements and the basic characteristics and types of each.

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2.2 Pavement Types - Flexible Pavement Basics

2 Flexible Pavement Basics


Flexible pavements are so named because the total Major Topics in this Section
pavement structure deflects, or flexes, under loading.
A flexible pavement structure is typically composed of 2.1 Basic Structural Elements
several layers of material. Each layer receives the
loads from the above layer, spreads them out, then 2.2 Perpetual Pavements
passes on these loads to the next layer below. Thus,
the further down in the pavement structure a particular layer is, the less load (in terms of force per area)
it must carry (see Figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2: Flexible Pavement Load Distribution

In order to take maximum advantage of this property, material layers are usually arranged in order of
descending load bearing capacity with the highest load bearing capacity material (and most expensive)
on the top and the lowest load bearing capacity material (and least expensive) on the bottom. This
section describes the typical flexible pavement structure consisting of:

● Surface course. This is the top layer and the layer that comes in contact with traffic. It may
be composed of one or several different HMA sublayers.

● Base course. This is the layer directly below the HMA layer and generally consists of
aggregate (either stabilized or unstabilized).

● Subbase course. This is the layer (or layers) under the base layer. A subbase is not always
needed.

After describing these basic elements, this section then discusses subsurface drainage and perpetual
pavements.

2.1 Basic Structural Elements


A typical flexible pavement structure (see Figure 2.3) consists of the surface course and the underlying
base and subbase courses. Each of these layers contributes to structural support and drainage. The
surface course (typically an HMA layer) is the stiffest (as measured by resilient modulus) and
contributes the most to pavement strength. The underlying layers are less stiff but are still important to
pavement strength as well as drainage and frost protection. A typical structural design results in a series

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of layers that gradually decrease in material quality with depth.

Figure 2.3: Basic Flexible Pavement Structure

As seen in Figure 2.4, a flexible pavement structure can vary greatly in thickness. The signs on top of
the pictured cores indicate the State Route (SR) and the Mile Post (MP) where the core was taken. The
scale at the right edge of the photo is in inches.

Figure 2.4: Various Flexible Pavement Cores from Washington State

2.1.1 Surface Course


The surface course is the layer in contact with traffic loads and normally contains the highest quality
materials. It provides characteristics such as friction, smoothness, noise control, rut and shoving
resistance and drainage. In addition, it serves to prevent the entrance of excessive quantities of surface
water into the underlying base, subbase and subgrade (NAPA, 2001). This top structural layer of
material is sometimes subdivided into two layers (NAPA, 2001):

1. Wearing Course. This is the layer in direct contact with traffic loads. It is meant to take the
brunt of traffic wear and can be removed and replaced as it becomes worn. A properly

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designed (and funded) preservation program should be able to identify pavement surface
distress while it is still confined to the wearing course. This way, the wearing course can be
rehabilitated before distress propagates into the underlying intermediate/binder course.

2. Intermediate/Binder Course. This layer provides the bulk of the HMA structure. It's chief
purpose is to distribute load.

2.1.2 Base Course


The base course is immediately beneath the surface course. It provides additional load distribution and
contributes to drainage and frost resistance. Base courses are usually constructed out of:

1. Aggregate. Base courses are most typically constructed from durable aggregates (see Figure
2.5) that will not be damaged by moisture or frost action. Aggregates can be either stabilized
or unstabilized.

2. HMA. In certain situations where high base stiffness is desired, base courses can be
constructed using a variety of HMA mixes. In relation to surface course HMA mixes, base
course mixes usually contain larger maximum aggregate sizes, are more open graded and are
subject to more lenient specifications.

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Figure 2.5: Limerock Base Course Undergoing Final Grading

2.1.3 Subbase Course


The subbase course is between the base course and the subgrade. It functions primarily as structural
support but it can also:

1. Minimize the intrusion of fines from the subgrade into the pavement structure.

2. Improve drainage.

3. Minimize frost action damage.

4. Provide a working platform for construction.

The subbase generally consists of lower quality materials than the base course but better than the
subgrade soils. A subbase course is not always needed or used. For example, a pavement constructed
over a high quality, stiff subgrade may not need the additional features offered by a subbase course so it
may be omitted from design. However, a pavement constructed over a low quality soil such as a
swelling clay may require the additional load distribution characteristic that a subbase course can offer.
In this scenario the subbase course may consist of high quality fill used to replace poor quality subgrade
(over excavation).

2.2 Perpetual Pavements


"Perpetual Pavement" is a term used to describe a long-lasting structural design, construction and maintenance
concept. A perpetual pavement can last 50 years or more if properly maintained and rehabilitated. As Michael
Nunn pointed out in 1998, flexible pavements over a minimum strength are not likely to exhibit structural
damage even when subjected to very high traffic flows over long periods of time. He noted that existing
pavements over about 370 mm (14.5 inches) should be able to withstand an almost infinite number of axle loads
without structural deterioration due to either fatigue cracking or rutting of the subgrade. Deterioration in these
thick, strong pavements was observed to initiate in the pavement surface as either top-down cracking or rutting.
Further, Uhlmeyer et al. (2000) found that most HMA pavements thicker than about 160 mm (6.3 inches) exhibit
only surface-initiated top-down cracking. Therefore, if surface-initiated cracking and rutting can be accounted
for before they impact the structural integrity of the pavement, the pavement life could be greatly increased.

Researchers have used this idea as well as pavement materials research to develop a basic perpetual

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pavement structural concept. This concept uses a thick asphalt over a strong foundation design with
three HMA layers, each one tailored to resist specific stresses (TRB, 2001):

1. HMA base layer. This is the bottom layer designed specifically to resist fatigue cracking.
Two approaches can be used to resist fatigue cracking in the base layer. First, the total
pavement thickness can be made great enough such that the tensile strain at the bottom of the
base layer is insignificant. Alternatively, the HMA base layer could be made using an extra-
flexible HMA. This can be most easily accomplished by increasing the asphalt content.
Combinations of the previous two approaches also work.

2. Intermediate layer. This is the middle layer designed specifically to carry most of the traffic
load. Therefore it must be stable (able to resist rutting) as well as durable. Stability can best
be provided by using stone-on-stone contact in the coarse aggregate and using a binder with
the appropriate high-temperature grading.

3. Wearing surface. This is the top layer designed specifically to resist surface-initiated
distresses such as top-down cracking and rutting. Other specific distresses of concern would
depend upon local experience.

In order to work, the above pavement structure must be built on a solid foundation. Nunn (1998) notes
that rutting on roads built on subgrade with a CBR greater than 5 percent originates almost solely in the
HMA layers, which suggests that a subgrade with a CBR greater than 5 percent (resilient modulus
greater than about 7,000 psi (50 MPa)) should be considered adequate. As always, proper construction
techniques are essential to a perpetual pavement's performance. Figure 2.6 shows an example cross-
section of a perpetual pavement design to be used in California on I-710 (the Long Beach Freeway) in
Los Angeles County.

Figure 2.6: Example I-710 Long Beach Freeway Perpetual Pavement Design
(from Monismith and Long, 1999)

Finally, the most important point in this brief perpetual pavement discussion is that it is possible to
design and build HMA pavements with extremely long design lives. In fact, some HMA pavements in
service today are living examples of perpetual pavements. For instance, two sections of Interstate 40 in
downtown Oklahoma City are now more than 33 years old (built in 1967) and are still in excellent
condition. These sections, which support 3 to 3.5 million ESALs per year, have been overlaid but the
base and intermediate courses have lasted since construction without any additional work (APA, no date
given).

Washington State Perpetual Pavements

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Washington State has a significant length of nationally recognized Perpetual Pavement. In 2002,
I-90 in Washington State was awarded one of the inaugural Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA)
Perpetual Pavement Awards. Criteria for this award included: the nature of the original design;
the overall quality of the pavement; the absence of structural failures; the condition of any long-
lasting overlays; the existence of a history of low overall maintenance; the nature of the efforts
that were made to minimize traffic disruptions during resurfacing; and other factors (APA,
2001b). Since their construction in the early to mid 1970s, all the flexible sections of I-90 are still
performing well and none have required reconstruction (Mahoney, 2001).

I-90 Flexible Pavement Performance Summary (from Mahoney, 2001)

Time from Age or


Time Since Original Original Current Current
Location Original HMA Construction Wearing Current IRI
Rut Depth
Construction Thickness to First
Resurfacing Course

Western Washington
Weighted 25.8 years 368 mm 18.5 years 7.4 years 1.0 m/km 5 mm
Average (14.5 in.) (63 in./mi.) (0.20 in.)
Number of 9 9 9 9 9 9
Sections
350 - 472 0.7 - 1.3 m/ 2 - 7 mm
mm km
Range 23 - 29 years (13.8 - 18.6 17 - 22 years 4 - 12 years (44 - 82 in./ (0.08 - 0.28
in.) mi.) in.)

Eastern Washington
Weighted 29.3 years 240 mm 12.4 years 4.7 years 0.8 m/km 5 mm
Average (9.5 in.) (51 in./mi.) (0.20 in.)
Number of 27 27 25 25 25 25
Sections
150 - 350 0.6 - 1.2 m/ 1 - 9 mm
mm km
Range 6 - 35 years (6.0 - 13.9 6 - 21 years 2 - 10 years (38 - 76 in./ (0.04 - 0.35
in.)
in.) mi.)

The performance of these pavement sections have the following implications:

● WSDOT design practice. Back in the early 1970s, before the Perpetual Pavement
concept was formalized, WSDOT's structural and mix design practices were sound
enough to produce extremely long-lasting flexible pavements.

● Pavement design period. WSDOT's use of 40 years design period is reasonable


considering all pavement sections on I-90 are still in tact and approaching 30 years of

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service.

● Maintenance strategies. Regular maintenance and a wearing course overlay every 10 -


15 years can protect the intermediate/binder course and base course from significant
damage.

I-90 Perpetual Pavement (Looking East Near Moses Lake, WA)

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3 Flexible Pavement Types


There are many different types of flexible pavements. This section covers Major Topics on this Page
three of the more common types of HMA mix types used in the U.S. Other
flexible pavements such as bituminous surface treatments (BSTs) are 3.1 Dense-Graded Mixes
considered by most agencies to be a form of maintenance and are thus covered
under Module 10, Maintenance & Rehabilitation. HMA mix types differ 3.2 Stone Matrix Asphalt Mixes

from each other mainly in maximum aggregate size, aggregate gradation and 3.3 Open-Graded Mixes
asphalt binder content/type. This Guide focuses on dense-graded HMA in
most flexible pavement sections because it is the most common HMA 3.4 Mix Selection Guidance
pavement material in the U.S. This section provides a brief exposure to:

● Dense-graded HMA. Flexible pavement information in this Guide is generally concerned with dense-
graded HMA. Dense-graded HMA is a versatile, all-around mix making it the most common and well-
understood mix type in the U.S.

● Stone matrix asphalt (SMA). SMA, although relatively new in the U.S., has been used in Europe as a
surface course for years to support heavy traffic loads and resist studded tire wear.

● Open-graded HMA. This includes both open-graded friction course (OGFC) and asphalt treated
permeable materials (ATPM). Open-graded mixes are typically used as wearing courses (OGFC) or
underlying drainage layers (ATPM) because of the special advantages offered by their porosity.

This section is taken largely from the NAPA's HMA Pavement Mix Type Selection Guide (2001). In addition to the general
information presented here, the HMA Pavement Mix Type Selection Guide provides specific information on minimum lift
thicknesses, mix selection criteria, mix materials as well as several informative examples.

WSDOT Standard HMA Mix Classes

WSDOT uses the following standard HMA mixes:

● Superpave. Dense-graded HMA conforming to Superpave mix design requirements. WSDOT uses
Superpave mixes with the following nominal maximum aggregate sizes: 25 mm (1 inch), 19 mm
(0.75 inch), 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) and 9.5 mm (0.375 inch). 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) Superpave has the
same nominal maximum aggregate size as WSDOT Class A and B mixes and is considered, along
with Class A, as WSDOT's "standard" surface course mix. Minimum lift thicknesses are as follows:

Mix Type Minimum Lift Thickness

25 mm (1 inch Superpave) 75 mm (0.25 ft)

19 mm (0.75 inch Superpave) 60 mm (0.20 ft)

12.5 mm (0.5 inch Superpave) 36 mm (0.12 ft)

9.5 mm (0.375 inch Superpave) 25 mm (0.08 ft)

● Class A. Dense-graded HMA with at least 90 percent of the coarse aggregate having at least one

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2.3 Pavement Types - Flexible Pavement Types

fractured face. Its primary use is as a surface course for locations with high traffic levels or when
the potential for rutting within the HMA layer exists. This is considered, along with 12.5 mm
Superpave, WSDOT's "standard" surface course paving mix. Minimum lift thickness is 36 mm (0.12
ft).

● Class B. Dense-graded HMA with at least 75 percent of the coarse aggregate having at least one
fractured face. Its primary use is as a leveling course or surface course. Minimum lift thickness is
36 mm (0.12 ft).

● Class D. An open-graded HMA. Class D HMA overlays are used primarily to seal and maintain
aged, but otherwise structurally sound flexible pavements. Class D HMA (known previously as
“open-graded asphalt seal coat”) is basically a bituminous surface treatment (BST) aggregate mixed
hot in a plant with a relatively high percentage of asphalt binder. Class D overlays are placed with
an asphalt paver at a compacted depth of 18 mm (0.06 ft.). WSDOT's targeted service life for a
Class D overlay is eight years, although performance of these mixes has varied on the state route
system because Class D HMA is susceptible to studded tire wear. Thus, this mix is seldom used on
high ADT routes or where high studded tire use is expected. Minimum lift thickness is 18 mm (0.06
ft).

● Class E. Dense-graded HMA primarily intended for use as a base course. This is WSDOT's
"standard" base course paving mix for both flexible and rigid pavements. Minimum lift thickness is
60 mm (0.20 ft).

● Class F. Dense-graded HMA similar to Class B but a bit coarser. This is used in lieu of Class B
where aggregate sources cannot meet Class B grading requirements. Thus, it has a higher
performance risk. Minimum lift thickness is 36 mm (0.12 ft).

● Class G. Dense-graded HMA for thin lifts (25 mm (1 inch) or less). The nominal maximum
aggregate size is about 9.5 mm (0.375 inches). This small size allows for its use as a thin, hot
maintenance seal. Minimum lift thickness is 18 mm (0.06 ft).

● Asphalt Treated Base (ATB). Dense-graded HMA with a wide gradation band and lower asphalt
content (2.5 - 4.5 percent by weight of aggregate) intended for use as a base course.

3.1 Dense-Graded Mixes


A dense-graded mix is a well-graded HMA mixture intended for general use. When properly designed and constructed, a
dense-graded mix is relatively impermeable. Dense-graded mixes are generally referred to by their nominal maximum
aggregate size. They can further be classified as either fine-graded or coarse-graded. Fine-graded mixes have more fine and
sand sized particles than coarse-graded mixes (see Table 2.1 for definitions of fine- and coarse-graded mixes).

Purpose: Dense-graded mixes are suitable for all pavement layers and for all traffic conditions. They work well for structural, friction,
leveling and patching needs.

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Materials: Well-graded aggregate, asphalt binder (with or without modifiers), RAP

Mix Superpave, Marshall or Hveem procedures.


Design:

Other Particulars about dense-graded HMA are covered by flexible pavement sections in the rest of this Guide.
Info:

Table 2.1: Fine- and Course-Graded Definitions for Dense-Graded HMA (from NAPA, 2001)

Mixture Nominal Maximum


Coarse-Graded Mix Fine-Graded Mix
Aggregate Size

37.5 mm (1.5 inches) < 35 % passing the 4.75 mm (No. 4 Sieve) > 35 % passing the 4.75 mm (No. 4 Sieve)

25.0 mm (1.0 inch) < 40 % passing the 4.75 mm (No. 4 Sieve) > 40 % passing the 4.75 mm (No. 4 Sieve)

19.0 mm (0.75 inches) < 35 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve) > 35 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve)

12.5 mm (0.5 inches) < 40 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve) > 40 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve)

9.5 mm (0.375 inches) < 45 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve) > 45 % passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8 Sieve)

3.2 Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA) Mixes


Stone matrix asphalt (SMA) is a gap-graded HMA (see Figure 2.7) that is designed to maximize deformation (rutting) resistance
and durability by using a structural basis of stone-on-stone contact (see Figures 2.8, through 2.12). Because the aggregates are
all in contact, rut resistance relies on aggregate properties rather than asphalt binder properties. Since aggregates do not deform
as much as asphalt binder under load, this stone-on-stone contact greatly reduces rutting. SMA is generally more expensive
than a typical dense-graded HMA (about 20 - 25 percent) because it requires more durable aggregates, higher asphalt content
and, typically, a modified asphalt binder and fibers. In the right situations it should be cost-effective because of its increased rut
resistance and improved durability. SMA, originally developed in Europe to resist rutting and studded tire wear, has been used
in the U.S. since about 1990 (NAPA, 1999).

Washington State SMA Experience

WSDOT has built several SMA wearing courses both in urban and rural settings. For a brief summary of SMA
in Washington State, see the WSDOT SMA Tech Note. The first SMA project in Washington State was a 1999
resurfacing of SR 524 in Lynwood. Experiences on this project are documented in a WSDOT Research Report
available at:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/biz/mats/pavement/pavementresearch.htm

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Purpose: Improved rut resistance and durability. Therefore, SMA is almost exclusively used for surface courses on high volume
interstates and U.S. roads.

Materials: Gap-graded aggregate (usually from coarse aggregate, manufactured sands and mineral filler all combined into a final
gradation), asphalt binder (typically with a modifier)

Mix Superpave or Marshall procedures with modifications. Refer to NAPA's Designing and Constructing SMA Mixtures: State-
Design: of-the-Practice, QIP 122 (1999) publication or NCHRP Report 425: Designing Stone Matrix Asphalt Mixtures for Rut-
Resistant Pavements.

Other Because SMA mixes have a high asphalt binder content (on the order of 6 percent), as the mix sits in the HMA storage silos,
Info: transport trucks, and after it is placed, the asphalt binder has a tendency to drain off the aggregate and down to the bottom - a
phenomenon known as "mix draindown". Mix draindown is usually combated by adding cellulose or mineral fibers to keep
the asphalt binder in place. Cellulose fibers are typically shredded newspapers and magazines, while mineral fibers are spun
from molten rock. A laboratory test is run during mix design to ensure the mix is not subject to excessive draindown.

In mix design a test for voids in the coarse aggregate (AASHTO T 19) is used to ensure there is stone-on-stone contact.

Other reported SMA benefits include wet weather friction (due to a coarser surface texture), lower tire noise (due to a coarser
surface texture) and less severe reflective cracking. Mineral fillers and additives are usually added to minimize asphalt
binder drain-down during construction, increase the amount of asphalt binder used in the mix and to improve mix durability.

Figure 2.7: Typical SMA and Dense-Graded HMA Aggregate Gradations

Figure 2.8: SMA Structure

Figure 2.9: SMA Aggregate Structure. Notice the stone-on- Figure 2.10: Dense-Graded HMA (left) vs. SMA (right). (it is a
stone contact of the larger aggregate particles. bit more shiny from the extra asphalt binder)

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Figure 2.11: Dense-Graded HMA (left) vs. SMA (right). Figure 2.12: SMA Pavement Surface
Notice the SMA has a better-defined large aggregate skeleton
(from NAPA, 2001)

3.3 Open-Graded Mixes


An open-graded HMA mixture is designed to be water permeable (dense-graded and SMA mixes usually are not permeable).
Open-graded mixes use only crushed stone (or gravel) and a small percentage of manufactured sands. There are three types of
open-graded mixes typically used in the U.S.:

1. Open-graded friction course (OGFC). Typically 15 percent air voids, no minimum air voids specified, lower
aggregate standards than PEM.

2. Porous European mixes (PEM). Typically 18 - 22 percent air voids, specified minimum air voids, higher aggregate
standards than OGFC and requires the use of asphalt binder modifiers. See Figure 2.13.

3. Asphalt treated permeable bases (ATPB). Less stringent specifications than OGFC or PEM since it is used only
under dense-graded HMA, SMA or PCC for drainage. See Figure 2.14.

Washington State Open-Graded Mix Experience

For specifics, see the WSDOT Class D HMA discussion.

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Purpose: OGFC and PEM - Used as for surface courses only. They reduce tire splash/spray in wet weather and typically result in
smoother surfaces than dense-graded HMA. Their high air voids trap road noise and thus reduce tire-road noise by up to 50-
percent (10 dBA) (NAPA, 1995).

ATPB - Used as a drainage layer below dense-graded HMA, SMA or PCC.

Materials: Aggregate (crushed stone or gravel and manufactured sands), asphalt binder (with modifiers)

Mix Less structured than for dense-graded or SMA mixes. Open-graded mix design generally consists of 1) material selection, 2)
Design: gradation, 3) compaction and void determination and 4) asphalt binder drain-down evaluation. NCAT Report 99-3: Design
of New-Generation Open Graded Friction Courses provides a recommended mix design procedure for OGFCs.

Other Both OGFC and PEM are more expensive per ton than dense-graded HMA, but the unit weight of the mix when in-place is
Info: lower, which partially offsets the higher per-ton cost. The open gradation creates pores in the mix, which are essential to the
mix's proper function. Therefore anything that tends to clog these pores, such as low-speed traffic, excessive dirt on the
roadway or deicing sand, should be avoided.

Figure 2.13: Core from a Pavement Using PEM as Figure 2.14: Asphalt Treated Permeable Base
the Wearing Course (from NAPA, 2001)

3.4 Mix Selection Guidance


Based on the previous information, there are some general rules for HMA mix type use, which are summarized in Table 2.2.
Notice that, as discussed, dense-graded HMA is generally appropriate for all uses, SMA and OGFC (and PEM) are typically
used as surface courses on high volume roads and ATPB is usually used for base courses on high volume roads. Keep in mind
that Table 2.2 is just a summary of general guidance and that there are, as always, case specific exceptions.

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2.3 Pavement Types - Flexible Pavement Types

Table 2.2: General Appropriateness of Mix Types For Each HMA Layer (NAPA, 2001)

Low Traffic Medium Traffic High Traffic


Course (< 300,000 ESALs) (300,000 - 10 million ESALs) (> 10 million ESALs)
Dense SMA OGFC ATPB Dense SMA OGFC ATPB Dense SMA OGFC ATPB

Surface

Intermediate

Base

Note: Before deciding to use ATPB, the Pavement Research Center's


= Appropriate
research results should be carefully considered.

= Moderately Appropriate

empty = Not Appropriate

3.4.1 Determining Appropriate Mix Types


Most of this process is taken directly from the NAPA HMA Pavement Mix Type Selection Guide (2001).

1. Determine the total thickness of HMA required. This is accomplished using an appropriate structural design
procedure.

2. Determine the types of mixtures appropriate for the surface course based on traffic and cost.

❍ From Table 2.2, identify the general traffic category for the pavement in question then select those mix
types that are appropriate for the surface course.

❍ Determine what aggregate size to use for a mix. In general, the higher the traffic loads, the higher the
nominal maximum aggregate size should be.

❍ Consider appearance. Mixes with larger aggregates often have a coarser surface texture and may be more
susceptible to segregation during placement. Therefore, for a city street where appearance is an issue, a
finer mix such as a 9.5 or 12.5-mm (0.375 or 0.5-inch) dense-graded mix may be appropriate. Conversely,
for a heavy industrial area where load resistance is much more important that aesthetic appearance, a 19.0-
mm (0.75-inch) mix may be more appropriate. However, never sacrifice performance for appearance.

❍ Consider traffic flow. Maximum aggregate size can also affect traffic flow during rehabilitation of existing
roadways. In many urban areas off-peak construction is used to minimize traffic impacts. However, for a

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road to be released to traffic during peak hours, either the lane drop-off (elevation difference between
adjacent lanes) must be kept below a specified minimum value (typically less than 37.5 mm (1.5 inches)
with proper signage) or all lanes must be brought to the same elevation. Bringing all lanes to the same
elevation at the end of each paving day may require changing traffic control and moving paving equipment,
which can increase construction costs and decrease safety. Therefore it is often better to satisfy the lane
drop-off requirement. However, with larger aggregate mixes the minimum lift thickness may exceed the
maximum lane drop-off allowed. As a result, using a finer gradation may allow paving one lane, then
releasing the road to traffic, then paving the other lane. Again, do not sacrifice performance.

3. Subtract the surface course thickness from the total thickness and determine what mix or mixes are appropriate for the
intermediate and/or base courses using Table 2.2.

4. Continue to subtract intermediate/base course thicknesses from the total thickness until mixes and layer thicknesses
have been selected for the required pavement section.

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2.4 Pavement Types - Flexible Recycling Options

4 Flexible Pavement Recycling


HMA is one of the most recycled products in the U.S. Major Topics on this Page
It is estimated that as much as 91 million tonnes (100
million tons) of HMA are milled off roads during 4.1 Hot Recycling
resurfacing and widening projects each year (APA,
2001a). Of this amount, 73 million tonnes (80 million 4.2 Cold Recycling
tons) are recycled as "reclaimed asphalt
pavement" (RAP - see Figure 2.15) (APA, 2001a). RAP is typically generated by rehabilitation or
reconstruction projects and can be used in a variety of ways such as:

● As an addition
to regular
HMA.

● As an
aggregate in
cold-mix
asphalt.

● As a granular
base course
when
pulverized.

● As a fill or
embankment
material.

HMA recycling can be divided into two basic categories based on the recycling methods used: hot
recycling and cold recycling. This section presents the basic recycling process as well as typical uses
and considerations for each of these recycling methods.

4.1 Hot Recycling

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2.4 Pavement Types - Flexible Recycling Options

Hot recycling is so named


because RAP is used as an
aggregate in HMA (hot mix
asphalt). In hot recycling, old
HMA pavement is removed,
broken down into aggregate-
sized chunks (see Figure 2.16)
and then incorporated into new
HMA as an aggregate. There are
two basic methods for
accomplishing this: conventional
recycled hot mix (RHM) and hot
in-place recycling.

4.1.1 Recycled
Hot Mix (RHM)
Recycled hot mix (RHM) is the most common way of using RAP. Basically, new HMA is produced at a
batch or drum plant to which a predetermined percentage of RAP is added. RAP addition is typically 10
to 30 percent by weight although additions as high as 80 percent by weight have been done and
additions as high as 90 to 100 percent by weight are feasible (FHWA, 2001c). There is ample evidence
that HMA which incorporates RAP performs as well as HMA without RAP. Figure 2.17 shows two
dense-graded HMA cores, one with RAP and one without.

Purpose: Anything for which a typical dense-graded HMA may be used

Materials: HMA and RAP

Mix Design: Superpave, Marshall or Hveem procedures. Blending charts are typically needed
when using high percentages of RAP.

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Other Info: When heated, RAP may give off gaseous hydrocarbons. To minimize these
emissions, HMA plants generally heat RAP indirectly (usually it is added after the
aggregate is heated and thus heats up through contact with the already-hot aggregate).

RAP addition may require longer HMA plant heating times. This can sometimes
reduce plant output by as much as half.

RAP generally contains between 3 and 7 percent asphalt by weight or about 10 to 20


percent asphalt by volume (FHWA, 2001c). In general, RAP will be more viscous
than new HMA because of asphalt binder aging. Therefore, if enough RAP is added,
a softer asphalt binder should be used. Table 2.3 shows the AASHTO MP 2
Superpave asphalt binder selection guidelines for RAP mixtures.

In general, state DOTs allow more RAP in base and binder HMA courses than they
do in surface courses.

After milling or crushing, RAP gradation is generally finer than pure virgin
aggregate because of the degradation that occurs during removal and processing.

Table 2.3: Superpave Asphalt Binder Selection Guidelines for RAP Mixtures (from AASHTO, 2001)

RAP Percentage Recommended Virgin Asphalt Binder Grade

< 15 No change from basic Superpave PG binder requirements.

Select virgin binder one grade softer than normal


15 - 25
(e.g., select at PG 58-22 if a PG 64-22 would normally be used).

> 25 Follow recommendations from blending charts.

WSDOT RAP Requirements and Use

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The WSDOT 2002 Standard Specifications for Road, Bridge and Municipal Construction
(M 41-10) allows contractors the option of using RAP in the amount up to 20 percent of
total aggregate weight without specifically accounting for it in mix design (e.g., the mix
design is determined using virgin aggregate only even though RAP will be included in the
HMA production). It also states that "Recycled materials shall not be used in asphalt
concrete Class D." There are no relaxations in gradation acceptance requirements for
HMA with RAP.

If contractors desire to add more than 20 percent RAP, WSDOT requires a separate mix
design that specifically accounts for the percentage they want to add. This type of mix
design often involves binder extraction from the RAP so that it can be graded and the
virgin binder grade can be appropriately adjusted.

Figure 2.17: HMA Cores from a RAP Mix and a non-RAP Mix

4.1.2 Hot In-Place Recycling (HIPR)


Hot in-place recycling (HIPR) is a less common form of hot asphalt recycling. There are three basic
HIPR construction processes in use, all of which involve a specialized plant in a continuous train
operation (FHWA, 2001c):

● Heater scarification (Figure 2.18). This method uses a plant that heats the pavement surface
(typically using propane radiant heaters), scarifies the pavement surface using a bank of

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nonrotating teeth, adds a rejuvenating agent to improve the recycled asphalt binder viscosity,
then mixes and levels the recycled mix using a standard auger system. The recycled asphalt
pavement is then compacted using conventional compaction equipment. Heater scarification
is limited in its ability to repair severely rutted pavements, which are more easily rehabilitated
with a conventional HMA overlay.

Figure 2.18: Heater Scarification Train Showing 2 Preheaters, the Heater/Scarifier, the Paver and Rollers.

● Repaving. This method removes (by heating and scarification and/or grinding) the top 25 to
50 mm (1 to 2 inches) of the existing HMA pavement, adds a rejuvenating agent to improve
the recycled asphalt binder viscosity, places the recycled material as a leveling course using a
primary screed, and simultaneously places a thin (usually less than 25 mm (1 inch)) HMA
overlay. Conventional equipment and procedures are used immediately behind the train to
compact both layers of material (Rathburn, 1990 as cited in FHWA, 2001c).

● Remixing. This method is used when additional aggregate is required to improve the strength
or stability. Remixing is similar to repaving but adds new virgin aggregate or new HMA to the
recycled material before it is leveled.

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Purpose: Correct shallow-depth HMA surface distress

Materials: Asphalt binder rejuvenating agent and possibly new aggregate and HMA.

Mix Design: Not well-defined, but as a minimum cores are usually taken from the existing
pavement to determine the proper amount of rejuvenating agent to add.

Other Info: HIPR is only applicable to specific situations. First, air void content of the existing
asphalt binder must be high enough to accept the necessary amount of asphalt binder
rejuvenator. Second, HIPR can only adequately address shallow surface distress
problems (less than 50 mm (2 inches)). Third, pavements with delaminations
(subsequent layers not binding together) in the top 50 mm (2 inches) should not be
considered for HIPR projects. Finally, pavements that have been rutted, heavily
patched, or chip-sealed are not good candidates for HIPR projects (FHWA, 2001c).

4.2 Cold Recycling


Cold recycling is so named because RAP is used as an aggregate in cold mix asphalt. In cold recycling,
old HMA pavement is removed, broken down into aggregate-sized chunks and then combined with an
emulsified or foamed asphalt. This mix is then typically used as a stabilized base course for
reconstructed pavements. There are two basic cold recycling methods: cold plant mix recycling and
cold in-place recycling (CIR).

4.2.1 Cold Plant Mix Recycling


Cold plant mix recycling, the less common of the two cold recycling methods, involves mixing RAP
with an asphalt emulsion or foamed asphalt at a central or mobile plant facility. A rejuvenating agent
can be added to improve the recycled asphalt binder viscosity and new aggregate can also be added to
improve overall performance. The resulting cold mix is then typically used as a stabilized base course.

Purpose: Stabilized base course.

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2.4 Pavement Types - Flexible Recycling Options

Materials: RAP, asphalt emulsion or foamed asphalt, asphalt rejuvenating agent and possibly
virgin aggregate.

Mix Design: No generally accepted mix design method, but the Asphalt Institute recommends and
most agencies use a variation of the Marshall mix design method (FHWA, 2001b).

Other Info: Since cold in-place recycling has become more commonplace, cold plant mixing has
become less popular.

4.2.2 Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR)


Cold in-place recycling (CIR) is the processing and treatment with bituminous and/or chemical additives
of existing HMA pavements without heating to produce a restored pavement layer (AASHTO, 1998). It
involves the same process of cold plant mix recycling except that it is done in-place by a train of
equipment. The typical CIR process involves seven basic steps (AASHTO, 1998):

1. Milling. A milling machine pulverizes a thin surface layer of pavement, usually from 50 to
100 mm (2 to 4 inches) deep.

2. Gradation control. The pulverized material is further crushed and graded to produce the
desired gradation and maximum particle size. On some jobs this step is omitted, however on
others a trailer mounted screening and crushing plant is used to further crush and grade the
pulverized pavement. If needed, virgin aggregate can be added to the recycled material.

3. Additive incorporation. The graded pulverized material is mixed with a binding additive
(usually emulsified asphalt, lime, portland cement or fly ash). On some jobs, this is done by
the milling machine, however on others a trailer mounted pugmill mixer is used.

4. Mixture placement. The pulverized, graded pavement and additive combination is placed
back over the previously milled pavement and graded to the final elevation. Mixture
placement is most often done with a traditional asphalt paver (either through windrow pickup
or by depositing the mixture directly into the paver hopper), however on some very low traffic
applications the mixture can be placed by a motor grader. Because of the larger maximum
aggregate sizes of the graded mixture, the minimum lift thickness for placement is usually
around 50 mm (2 inches).

5. Compaction. The placed mixture is compacted to the desired density. Typical compaction

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efforts involve a large pneumatic tire roller and a large vibratory steel wheel roller. If an
emulsion additive is used rolling is typically delayed until the emulsion begins to break. If a
portland cement or fly ash additive is used, rolling should begin immediately after placement.

6. Fog seal. If the newly placed material is to operate as a high quality gravel road then a fog
seal is usually applied over the top to delay surface raveling of the cold recycled mix. A fog
seal is necessary over CIR using a portland cement or fly ash additive not only to delay
surface raveling but also to provide a curing membrane for the additive to properly set.

7. Surface course construction. On higher volume roads, the cold recycled mix is overlaid with
either a BST or a thin HMA overlay. In either case, a tack coat should be used to provide a
good bond between the cold recycled mix and the surface course.

Purpose: Stabilized base course or a low volume road granular surface course.

Materials: Recycled material and a binding additive (usually asphalt emulsion, lime, portland
cement or fly ash).

Mix Design: No generally accepted mix design method, but most methods are based on the
Marshall or Hveem methods and equipment (AASHTO, 1996).

Other Info: CIR is best suited for cracked pavements with structurally sound, well drained bases
and subgrades. CIR is generally not appropriate for repairing pavement failures
caused by:

● Rutting from excessive asphalt content or mix instability

● Wet, unstable base, subbase or subgrade materials

● Frost action

● Stripping

CIR is generally suitable for lower volume roads that may only require a simple
surface treatment over the resulting stabilized base course, or at most a thin HMA
wearing course (Better Roads, 2001).

For projects using an asphalt emulsion additive, typical specified minimum

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atmospheric temperatures range from 10 to 16°C (50 to 60°F). For projects


using portland cement or fly ash as the additive, the minimum
required temperature is 4°C (39°F) with no freezing temperatures
expected in the next 24 hours (AASHTO, 1998).

CIR requires sunny, dry conditions in order for the additive to


properly set.

If an asphalt emulsion additive is used, it is usually added at a rate


of between 0.5 to 2 percent by weight of RAP.

WSDOT Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR) Experience

WSDOT has been using CIR since 1982 and has place about 167 lane miles on 14
different projects. For those projects that have been subsequently rehabilitated it appears
service life was in the range of 10 years. Some specific WSDOT guidance on CIR in
addition to that listed above is:

● Asphalt overlays place on top of CIR are typically on the order of 45 to 75 mm


(0.15 to 0.25 ft.) thick and have performed reasonably well.

● CIR relies heavily on contractor experience.

● The necessary warm, dry climate for CIR can be found in Eastern Washington
(east of the Cascade mountains) but generally not in Western Washington
(west of the Cascade mountains).

● CIR can drastically reduce aggregate or mixture haul costs because the
recycled material never leaves the project site. Therefore CIR is a more
competitive rehabilitation option where limited supplies of close-by virgin
aggregate would force a contractor to otherwise haul aggregate in from far
away.

● CIR has not been used in urban environments, areas of inconsistent pavement
width and depth or areas of multiple pavement types within the same pavement
structure.

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● Production rates can vary but are typically between 2,000 and 5,000 tons/day,

● When used for suitable projects (e.g., no close-in supply of aggregate, low
volume road, warm and dry climate, etc.) CIR costs are comparable to
traditional overlay costs.

4.2.3 Full-Depth Reclamation (FDR)


Although referred to as "full-depth reclamation", this process is just an extension of the basic CIR
principles to the entire HMA pavement depth plus a predetermined depth of the base material. FDR can
be used to depths of 300 mm (12 inches) or more but the most typical applications involve depths of
between 150 and 225 mm (6 and 9 inches) (Better Roads, 2001). The FDR process usually consists of
eight steps (Better Roads, 2001):

1. Pulverization. A road reclaimer pulverizes existing pavement to a predetermined depth.


Road reclaimers are usually equipped to add materials such as stabilizing agents to the newly
pulverized RAP.

2. Moisture conditioning. The road reclaimer or a separate truck adds water to the newly
pulverized RAP to assist in achieving required density.

3. Breakdown roller. A sheepsfoot or pneumatic tire roller is typically used to compact the
recently pulverized RAP to a consistent density.

4. Shaping. A grader is typically used to make grade and cross-slope adjustments.

5. Intermediate roller. A pneumatic tire roller or a steel wheel vibratory roller is used to knead
and seat any loose aggregates left from the shaping process.

6. Finish roller. A 12 to 14-ton static steel wheel roller is used to seat any remaining loose
aggregates and create a smooth surface.

7. Sealant. A fog seal is typically applied to protect the finished reclaimed layer. After the fog
seal sets the reclaimed layer can generally withstand interim traffic loading. Therefore, at this
point the road is often opened to traffic until the contractor is ready to apply the surface
treatment or HMA surface course.

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8. Surface treatment or surface course. Finally, a more durable surface treatment or surface
course is applied over the new stabilized base course.

Purpose: Stabilized base course.

Materials: Recycled material, asphalt emulsion or foamed asphalt, asphalt rejuvenating agent
and possibly virgin aggregate.

Mix Design: No generally accepted mix design method, but the Asphalt Institute recommends and
most agencies use a variation of the Marshall mix design method (FHWA, 2001b).

Other Info: FDR is generally suitable for lower volume roads that may only require a simple
surface treatment over the resulting stabilized base course, or at most a thin HMA
wearing course. However, FDR has been used on major highways including
interstates (Better Roads, 2001).

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2.5 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Basics

5 Rigid Pavement Basics


Rigid pavements are so named because the pavement structure deflects very little Major Topics on this Page
under loading due to the high modulus of elasticity of their surface course. A rigid
pavement structure is typically composed of a PCC surface course built on top of 5.1 Basic Structural Elements
either (1) the subgrade or (2) an underlying base course. Because of its relative
rigidity, the pavement structure distributes loads over a wide area with only one, or 5.2 Joints
at most two, structural layers (see Figure 2.19). 5.3 Load Transfer

Figure 2.19: Rigid Pavement Load Distribution 5.4 Tie Bars

This section describes the typical rigid pavement structure consisting of:

● Surface course. This is the top layer, which consists of the PCC slab.

● Base course. This is the layer directly below the PCC layer and generally consists of aggregate or stabilized subgrade.

● Subbase course. This is the layer (or layers) under the base layer. A subbase is not always needed and therefore may
often be omitted.

5.1 Basic Structural Elements


A typical rigid pavement structure (see Figure 2.20) consists of the surface course and the underlying base and subbase courses (if
used). The surface course (made of PCC) is the stiffest (as measured by resilient modulus) and provides the majority of strength.
The underlying layers are orders of magnitude less stiff but still make important contributions to pavement strength as well as
drainage and frost protection.

Figure 2.20: Basic Rigid Pavement Structure

5.1.1 Surface Course


The surface course is the layer in contact with traffic loads and is made of PCC. It provides characteristics such as friction (see
Figure 2.21), smoothness, noise control and drainage. In addition, it serves as a waterproofing layer to the underlying base, subbase
and subgrade. The surface course can vary in thickness but is usually between 150 mm (6 inches) (for light loading) and 300 mm (12
inches) (for heavy loads and high traffic). Figure 2.22 shows a 300 mm (12 inch) surface course.

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2.5 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Basics

Figure 2.21: PCC Surface Figure 2.22: Rigid Pavement Slab


(Surface Course) Thickness

5.1.2 Base Course


The base course is immediately beneath the surface course. It provides (1) additional load distribution, (2) contributes to drainage
and frost resistance, (3) uniform support to the pavement and (4) a stable platform for construction equipment
(ACPA, 2001). Bases also help prevent subgrade soil movement due to slab pumping. Base courses are usually
constructed out of:

1. Aggregate base. A simple base course of crushed aggregate has been a common option since the early 1900s and is still
appropriate in many situations today.

2. Stabilized aggregate or soil (see Figure 2.23). Stabilizing agents are used to bind otherwise loose particles to one another,
providing strength and cohesion. Cement treated bases (CTBs) can be built to as much as 20 - 25 percent of the surface
course strength (FHWA, 1999). However, cement treated bases (CTBs) used in the 1950s and early 1960s had a tendency
to lose excessive amounts of material leading to panel cracking and settling.

3. Dense-graded HMA. In situations where high base stiffness is desired base courses can be constructed using a dense-
graded HMA layer.

4. Permeable HMA. In certain situations where high base stiffness and excellent drainage is desired, base courses can be
constructed using an open graded HMA. Recent research may indicate some significant problems with ATPB use.

5. Lean concrete (see Figure 2.24). Contains less portland cement paste than a typical PCC and is stronger than a stabilized
aggregate. Lean concrete bases (LCBs) can be built to as much as 25 - 50 percent of the surface course strength (FHWA,
1999). A lean concrete base functions much like a regular PCC surface course and therefore, it requires construction joints
and will crack over time. These joints and cracks can potentially cause reflection cracking in the surface course if they are
not carefully matched.

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Figure 2.23: Completed CTB with Curing Seal Figure 2.24: Lean Concrete Base Material

5.1.3 Subbase Course


The subbase course is the portion of the pavement structure between the base course and the subgrade. It functions primarily as
structural support but it can also:

1. Minimize the intrusion of fines from the subgrade into the pavement structure.

2. Improve drainage.

3. Minimize frost action damage.

4. Provide a working platform for construction.

The subbase generally consists of lower quality materials than the base course but better than the subgrade soils. Appropriate
materials are aggregate and high quality structural fill. A subbase course is not always needed or used.

5.2 Joints
Joints are purposefully placed discontinuities in a rigid pavement surface course. The most common types of pavement joints,
defined by their function, are (AASHTO, 1993): contraction, expansion, isolation and construction.

5.2.1 Contraction Joints


A contraction joint is a sawed, formed, or tooled groove in a concrete slab that creates a weakened vertical plane. It regulates the
location of the cracking caused by dimensional changes in the slab. Unregulated cracks can grow and result in an unacceptably
rough surface as well as water infiltration into the base, subbase and subgrade, which can enable other types of pavement distress.
Contraction joints are the most common type of joint in concrete pavements, thus the generic term "joint" generally refers to a
contraction joint.

Contraction joints are chiefly defined by their spacing and their method of load transfer. They are generally between 1/4 - 1/3 the

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2.5 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Basics

depth of the slab and typically spaced every 3.1 - 15 m (12 - 50 ft.) with thinner slabs having shorter spacing (see Figure 2.25).
Some states use a semi-random joint spacing pattern to minimize their resonant effect on vehicles. These patterns typically use a
repeating sequence of joint spacing (for example: 2.7 m (9 ft.) then 3.0 m (10 ft.) then 4.3 m (14 ft.) then 4.0 m (13 ft.)). Transverse
contraction joints can be cut at right angles to the direction of traffic flow or at an angle (called a "skewed joint", see Figure 2.27).
Skewed joints are cut at obtuse angles to the direction of traffic flow to help with load transfer. If the joint is properly skewed, the
left wheel of each axle will cross onto the leave slab first and only one wheel will cross the joint at a time, which results in lower
load transfer stresses (see Figure 2.28).

Figure 2.25: Rigid Pavement Showing Figure 2.26: Missing Contraction Joint
Contraction Joints (The middle lane contraction joint was not sawed resulting in a
transverse slab crack. The outer lanes have proper contraction joints
and therefore, no cracking)

Figure 2.27: Skewed Contraction Joint

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(The Tining is Perpendicular to the Direction of Travel While the Contraction Joint is Skewed)

Figure 2.28: Skewed Contraction Joint

Notice how the tire loads cross the joint


one at a time. This introduces the axle load
to the leave slab one tire at a time rather
than all at once (as would be the case for a
90-degree transverse joint).

WSDOT Contraction Joint Design

The contraction joint spacing used by WSDOT is based on dowel bar use for load transfer. A reasonable joint
spacing when dowels are used is 3.7 m (12 ft.); however, contraction joint spacings up to 4.5 m (15 ft.) can be used
and are specified in the WSDOT Standard Plans.

These contraction joint spacings are, in part, based on prior rigid pavement performance in Washington State and
elsewhere and slab stress calculations. For example:

● Contraction joint spacings of 3.7 - 4.5 m (12 to 15 ft.) result in lower slab stresses due to thermal
gradients.

● A contraction joint spacing of about 3.7 m (12 ft). conforms to the FHWA L/l = 5.0 criterion for
"thinner" slabs of about 228 mm (9 in.) on stiff subbases. A spacing of about 4.5 m (15 ft.) conforms to
the same criterion for "thicker" slabs of about 330 mm (13 in.) on stiff subbases.

● In general, annual joint openings should be limited to no more than 0.6 - 0.9 mm (0.025 - 0.035 in.) to
insure long term joint performance. Using the slab shrinkage/expansion equation and PCC slabs on
stabilized base for annual temperature ranges estimated for eastern and western Washington, the
resulting joint movements are:

❍ 3.7 m (12 ft.) slab in Eastern Washington: 0.79 mm (0.031 in.)

❍ 3.7 m (12 ft.) slab in Western Washington: 0.53 mm (0.021 in.)

❍ 4.5 m (15 ft.) slab in Eastern Washington: 0.99 mm (0.039 in.)

❍ 4.5 m (15 ft.) slab in Western Washington: 0.66 mm (0.026 in.)

5.2.2 Expansion Joints


An expansion joint is placed at a specific location to allow the pavement to expand without damaging adjacent structures or the
pavement itself. Up until the 1950s, it was common practice in the U.S. to use plain, jointed slabs with both
contraction and expansion joints (Sutherland, 1956). However, expansion joint are not typically used today because
their progressive closure tends to cause contraction joints to progressively open (Sutherland, 1956). Progressive or even large
seasonal contraction joint openings cause a loss of load transfer — particularly so for joints without dowel bars.

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WSDOT does not use expansion joints

5.2.3 Isolation Joints


An isolation joint (see Figure 2.29) is used to lessen compressive stresses that develop at T- and unsymmetrical
intersections, ramps, bridges, building foundations, drainage inlets, manholes, and anywhere differential
movement between the pavement and a structure (or another existing pavement) may take place (ACPA, 2001).
They are typically filled with a joint filler material to prevent water and dirt infiltration.

Figure 2.29: Roofing Paper Used for an Isolation Joint

5.2.4 Construction Joints


A construction joint (see Figure 2.30) is a joint between slabs that results when concrete is placed at different times. This type of
joint can be further broken down into transverse and longitudinal construction joints (see Figure 2.31). Longitudinal construction
joints also allow slab warping without appreciable separation or cracking of the slabs.

Figure 2.30: Construction Joint

Workers manually insert dowel bars into the


construction joint at the end of the work day.

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Construction joints should be planned so that


they coincide with contraction joint spacing to
eliminate extra joints.

Figure 2.31: Longitudinal and Transverse


Construction Joints

5.3 Load Transfer


"Load transfer" is a term used to describe the transfer (or distribution) load across discontinuities such as joints or cracks (AASHTO,
1993). When a wheel load is applied at a joint or crack, both the loaded slab and adjacent unloaded slab deflect. The amount the
unloaded slab deflects is directly related to joint performance. If a joint is performing perfectly, both the loaded and unloaded slabs
deflect equally. Load transfer efficiency is defined by the following equation:

where: ∆ = approach slab deflection


a

∆ = leave slab deflection


l

This efficiency depends on several factors, including temperature (which affects joint opening), joint spacing, number and magnitude
of load applications, foundation support, aggregate particle angularity, and the presence of mechanical load transfer devices.
Figure 2.32 illustrates the extremes in load transfer efficiency. Most performance problems with concrete
pavement are a result of poorly performing joints (ACPA, 2001). Poor load transfer creates high slab stresses,

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which contribute heavily to distresses such as faulting, pumping and corner breaks. Thus, adequate load transfer
is vital to rigid pavement performance. Load transfer across transverse joints/cracks is generally accomplished
using one of three basic methods: aggregate interlock, dowel bars, and reinforcing steel.

Figure 2.32: Load Transfer Efficiency Across a PCC Surface Course Joint

5.3.1 Aggregate Interlock


Aggregate interlock is the mechanical locking which forms between the fractured surfaces along the crack below the
joint saw cut (see Figure 2.33) (ACPA, 2001). Some low-volume and secondary road systems rely entirely on
aggregate interlock to provide load transfer although it is generally not adequate to provide long-term load
transfer for high traffic (and especially truck) volumes. Generally, aggregate interlock is ineffective in cracks
wider than about 0.9 mm (0.035 inches) (FHWA, 1990). Often, dowel bars are used to provide the majority of
load transfer.

Figure 2.33: Aggregate Interlock

5.3.2 Dowel Bars

Dowel bars are short steel bars that provide a mechanical connection
between slabs without restricting horizontal joint movement. They increase
load transfer efficiency by allowing the leave slab to assume some of the Figure 2.34: Typical Dowel Bar
load before the load is actually over it. This reduces joint deflection and Location
stress in the approach and leave slabs.
on Transverse Joints

Dowel bars are typically 32 to 38 mm (1.25 to 1.5 inches) in


diameter, 460 mm (18 inches) long and spaced 305 mm (12 inches)
apart. Specific locations and numbers vary by state, however a
typical arrangement might look like Figure 2.34. In order to prevent corrosion, dowel bars are either
coated with stainless steel (see Figure 2.35) or epoxy (see Figure 2.36). Dowel bars are usually inserted

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at mid-slab depth and coated with a bond-breaking substance to prevent bonding to the PCC. Thus, the
dowels help transfer load but allow adjacent slabs to expand and contract independent of one another.
Figure 2.36 shows typical dowel bar locations at a transverse construction joint.

Figure 2.35: Stainless Steel-Clad Dowel Bars Figure 2.36: Dowel Bars in Place at a Construction Joint- the Green
(Epoxy Coating on Ends Only) Color is from the Epoxy Coating

WSDOT Dowel Bar Design

WSDOT uses one standard dowel bar for all new construction, reconstruction
and dowel bar retrofits:

● Diameter = 38 mm (1.500 inches)

● Length = 450 mm (18 inches)

All dowels are spaced 300 mm (12 inches) center to center.

5.3.3 Reinforcing Steel


Reinforcing steel can also be used to provide load transfer. When reinforcing steel is used, transverse contraction joints are often
omitted (as in CRCP). Therefore, since there are no joints, the PCC cracks on its own and the reinforcing steel provides load transfer
across these cracks. Unlike dowel bars, reinforcing steel is bonded to the PCC on either side of the crack in order to hold the crack
tightly together.

Typically, rigid pavement reinforcing steel consists of grade 60 (yield stress of 60 ksi (414 MPa) No. 5 or
No. 6 bars (ERES, 2001). The steel constitutes about 0.6 - 0.7 percent of the pavement cross-sectional area (ACPA,
2001) and is typically placed at slab mid-depth or shallower. At least 63 mm (2.5 inches) of PCC cover should be maintained over
the reinforcing steel to minimize the potential for steel corrosion by chlorides found in deicing agents (Burke, 1983).

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5.4 Tie Bars


Tie bars are either deformed steel bars or connectors used to hold the faces of abutting slabs in contact (AASHTO, 1993). Although
they may provide some minimal amount of load transfer, they are not designed to act as load transfer devices and should not be used
as such (AASHTO, 1993). Tie bars are typically used at longitudinal joints (see Figure 2.37) or between an edge joint and a curb or
shoulder. Typically, tie bars are about 12.5 mm (0.5 inches) in diameter and between 0.6 and 1.0 m (24 and 40 inches long).

Figure 2.37: Tie Bars Along a Longitudinal Joint

WSDOT Tie Bar Design

Tie bars are typically No. 5 bars, 800 mm (32 in.) long and spaced
900 mm (36 in.) center to center.

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2.6 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Types

6 Rigid Pavement Types


Almost all rigid pavement is made with PCC, thus this Major Topics on this Page
Guide only discusses PCC pavement. Rigid
pavements are differentiated into three major 6.1 Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement
categories by their means of crack control:
6.2 Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavement
● Jointed plain concrete pavement 6.3 Continuously Reinforced Concrete
(JPCP). This is the most common Pavement
type of rigid pavement. JPCP
controls cracks by dividing the pavement up into individual slabs separated by
contraction joints. Slabs are typically one lane wide and between 3.7 m (12 ft.)
and 6.1 m (20 ft.) long. JPCP does not use any reinforcing steel but does use
dowel bars and tie bars.

● Jointed reinforced concrete pavement (JRCP). As with JPCP, JRCP controls


cracks by dividing the pavement up into individual slabs separated by
contraction joints. However, these slabs are much longer (as long as 15 m (50
ft.)) than JPCP slabs, so JRCP uses reinforcing steel within each slab to control
within-slab cracking. This pavement type is no longer constructed in the U.S.
due to some long-term performance problems.

● Continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP). This type of rigid


pavement uses reinforcing steel rather than contraction joints for crack control.
Cracks typically appear ever 1.1 - 2.4 m (3.5 - 8 ft.) are held tightly together by
the underlying reinforcing steel.

Figure 2.38: Rigid Pavement Type Usage in the U.S.


(information on state practices taken from ERES, 1998 and ACPA, 2001)

6.1 Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement (JPCP)


Jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP, see Figure 2.39) uses contraction joints to control cracking and
does not use any reinforcing steel. Transverse joint spacing is selected such that temperature and
moisture stresses do not produce intermediate cracking between joints. This typically results in a
spacing no longer than about 6.1 m (20 ft.). Dowel bars are typically used at transverse joints to assist in

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2.6 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Types

load transfer. Tie bars are typically used at longitudinal joints.

Figure 2.39: Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement (JPCP)

Crack Control: Contraction joints, both transverse and longitudinal

Joint Spacing: Typically between 3.7 m (12 ft.) and 6.1 m (20 ft.). Due to the nature of concrete, slabs
longer than about 6.1 m (20 ft.) will usually crack in the middle. Depending upon
environment and materials slabs shorter than this may also crack in the middle.

Reinforcing None.
Steel:

Load Transfer: Aggregate interlock and dowel bars. For low-volume roads aggregate interlock is often
adequate. However, high-volume roads generally require dowel bars in each transverse joint
to prevent excessive faulting.

Other Info: A majority of U.S. State DOTs build JPCP because of its simplicity and proven performance.

Washington State JPCP Information

WSDOT builds only JPCP. Links to further WSDOT JPCP


design practices are listed below:

● Contraction joint spacing and design.

● Dowel bar design.

● Tie bar design.

6.2 Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavement

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(JRCP)
Jointed reinforced concrete pavement (JRCP, see Figure 2.40) uses contraction joints and reinforcing
steel to control cracking. Transverse joint spacing is longer than that for JPCP and typically ranges from
about 7.6 m (25 ft.) to 15.2 m (50 ft.). Temperature and moisture stresses are expected to cause cracking
between joints, hence reinforcing steel or a steel mesh is used to hold these cracks tightly together.
Dowel bars are typically used at transverse joints to assist in load transfer while the reinforcing steel/
wire mesh assists in load transfer across cracks.

Figure 2.40: Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavement (JRCP)

Crack Control: Contraction joints as well as reinforcing steel.

Joint Spacing: Longer than JPCP and up to a maximum of about 15 m (50 ft.). Due to the nature of
concrete, the longer slabs associated with JRCP will crack.

Reinforcing A minimal amount is included mid-slab to hold cracks tightly together. This can be in the
Steel: form of deformed reinforcing bars or a thick wire mesh.

Load Transfer: Dowel bars and reinforcing steel. Dowel bars assist in load transfer across transverse joints
while reinforcing steel assists in load transfer across mid-panel cracks.

Other Info: During construction of the interstate system, most agencies in the
Eastern and Midwestern U.S. built JRCP. Today only a handful of
agencies employ this design (ACPA, 2001).

In general, JRCP has fallen out of favor because of inferior performance


when compared to JPCP and CRCP.

WSDOT does not build JRCP

6.3 Continuously Reinforced Concrete


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Pavement (CRCP)
Continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP, see Figure 2.41) does not
require any contraction joints. Transverse cracks are allowed to form but are held tightly
together with continuous reinforcing steel. Research has shown that the maximum
allowable design crack width is about 0.5 mm (0.02 inches) to protect against spalling
and water penetration (CRSI, 1996). Cracks typically form at intervals of 1.1 - 2.4 m
(3.5 - 8 ft.). Reinforcing steel usually constitutes about 0.6 - 0.7 percent of the cross-
sectional pavement area and is located near mid-depth in the slab. Typically, No. 5 and
No. 6 deformed reinforcing bars are used.

During the 1970's and early 1980's, CRCP design thickness was typically about 80 percent of the
thickness of JPCP. However, a substantial number of these thinner pavements developed distress sooner
than anticipated and as a consequence, the current trend is to make CRCP the same
thickness as JPCP (FHWA, June 1990). The reinforcing steel is assumed to only
handle nonload-related stresses and any structural contribution to resisting loads
is ignored.

Figure 2.41: Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP)

Crack Control: Reinforcing steel

Joint Spacing: Not applicable. No transverse contraction joints are used.

Reinforcing Typically about 0.6 - 0.7 percent by cross-sectional area (ACPA, 2001).
Steel:

Load Transfer: Reinforcing steel, typically No. 5 or 6 bars, grade 60.

Other Info: CRCP generally costs more than JPCP or JRCP initially due to increased
quantities of steel. Further, it is generally less forgiving of construction
errors and provides fewer and more difficult rehabilitation options.
However, CRCP may demonstrate superior long-term performance and
cost-effectiveness. Some agencies choose to use CRCP designs in their
heavy urban traffic corridors (ACPA, 2001).

WSDOT does not build CRCP

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2.6 Pavement Types - Rigid Pavement Types

WSDOT Rigid Pavement Intersections

In 1995, WSDOT began replacing flexible pavement with rigid pavement at selected
intersections. These intersections were severely rutted and distressed due to loads from
slow moving vehicles and warm temperatures. Statewide, ruts of 50 mm (2 inches) or
more occasionally have occurred and resurfacing to restore the intersection to an
acceptable level recurred at intervals of eight years or less. Though WSDOT has
numerous rigid pavement intersections, the unique feature with these particular
intersections was the replacement of existing flexible with rigid pavement only at
intersections.

A major advantage with rigid pavement replacement is that once the rigid pavement is
placed rehabilitation should not be necessary for 40 years. The major disadvantage with
rigid pavement intersections is the initial construction cost; however, these costs appear to
be coming down, particularly as contractors become familiar with this type of
construction. Rigid pavement intersections in the Tri-Cities area completed in 2000
showed that an entire intersection can be paved in a single weekend closure.

The following WSDOT report discusses rigid pavement intersection design and
construction in detail:

● Uhlmeyer, J.S. (2001). PCCP Intersections Design and Construction in


Washington State. WA-RD 503.1. (www.wsdot.wa.gov/ppsc/research/
CompleteReports/WARD503_1PCCPrev.pdf)

The following is a overview of some considerations for rigid pavement intersection design:

● The area of pavement rutting or distress must be well defined. The major
arterial approach legs to intersections may require rigid pavement sections
reaching as long as 60 - 150 m (200 - 500 ft.) back from the crosswalk. The
approach legs on the minor arterial typically require 60 m (200 ft.) or less but
may extend farther. It is desirable to extend the leave legs as far as the
adjacent approach legs but, at a minimum, the leave leg should extend at least
30 m (50 ft.) from the crosswalk.

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● Rigid pavement intersection plans should include intersection joint layout


detail. In 1996, the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA)
prepared a useful step by step procedure entitled “Concrete Information -
Intersection Joint Layout.”

● Dowel bars should be used for all joints with cross traffic. For slabs without
cross traffic, use dowel bars on the transverse joints and tie bars on the
longitudinal joints. Dowel bars and tie bars should not be placed within 0.61 m
(2 ft.) of new signal detection loops. Tie bars should not be placed within 0.46
m (1.5 ft.) of dowel bars.

● If a transverse or longitudinal joint is within 1.22 meters of a valve, utility hole,


or catch basin, the joint should be skewed to pass through the center of the
valve, manhole or catch basin. Care should be taken in the jointing detail to
place joints across valves, manholes, or catch basins wherever possible.

● Transverse joints, as much as possible, should line up with existing curb


jointing. A lightweight roofing paper should be used between the curbing and
the PCC slab.

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2.7 Pavement Types - Rigid Recycling Options

7 Rigid Pavement Recycling


Reclaimed concrete material (RCM), sometimes Major Topics on this Page
referred to as recycled concrete pavement (RCP), is
typically generated by rigid pavement rehabilitation or 7.1 RCM Used as Coarse Aggregate
reconstruction. When crushed, RCM can be used in a
variety of ways: 7.2 RCM Used as Base Material

7.3 RCM Used as Embankment/Fill Material


● As an aggregate in PCC and HMA.

● As a granular base course.

● As a fill or embankment material.

Generally, recycling PCC involves breaking it up, removing embedded metal (e.g., steel reinforcing
bars, dowels, etc), then crushing it to a specified size. For small projects, RCM is usually broken up into
large pieces and loaded into dump trucks for removal from the site. This RCM is typically hauled to a
central facility for stockpiling and processing (FHWA, 2001d). The central processing facility crushes,
screens and removes ferrous metal from the RCM. Present crushing systems, with magnetic separators,
are capable of removing reinforcing steel without much difficulty, however welded wire mesh
reinforcement may be difficult or impossible to remove effectively (FHWA, 2001d). For large projects,
RCM is usually processed on site using a mobile plant or processed in place using one or several
machines.

Some general conclusions about RCM material properties from NCHRP Synthesis 154: Recycling of
Portland Cement Concrete Pavements (Yrjanson, 1989) are:

● Aggregate particle characteristics. The aggregate particles produced by crushing have good
particle shape, high absorptions, and low specific gravity compared with conventional mineral
aggregates.

● Mixture design and workability.

❍ The use of recycled coarse aggregate has no significant effect on mixture


proportioning or workability compared with conventional PCC mixtures.

❍ When crushed RCP is used as a fine aggregate, the mixture is less workable and
requires more cement because of its increased water demand. As a result, most
state agencies do not use recycled fines in concrete mixtures, and if they are used
they are limited to a maximum of 30 percent of the fine aggregate portion of the

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mixture.

● Durability.

❍ PCC made from RCP aggregate has shown an increase in freeze-thaw resistance
compared with PCC made from normal conventional aggregates.

❍ The durability of PCC made with aggregate subject to D-cracking can be


substantially improved by recycling. The addition of fly ash may reduce D-
cracking potential even more.

● Strength. The strength of PCC made with RCP aggregate can be equivalent to conventional
PCC mixtures when recycled fines are omitted or used in small amounts.

The following sections discuss the three major uses of RCM: coarse aggregate, base material and
embankment/fill.

7.1 RCM Used as an Aggregate in PCC and


HMA
In general, adequate PCC pavement can and has been constructed using RCM as a coarse aggregate.

WSDOT RCM Use

WSDOT does not allow the use of RCM as an aggregate in new PCC or new HMA surface courses. RCM
can be used in asphalt treated base material.

Purpose: Coarse aggregate in PCC, aggregate in HMA

Materials: RCM crushed to a predetermined size

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Mix Design: Standard PCC mix design. Most standards consider RCM coarse aggregate to be a
conventional coarse aggregate and treat it as such. If not prewetted, RCM
aggregates will absorb a substantial amount of water.

Standard HMA mix design. RCM is more appropriate for asphalt treated base
materials that generally have fewer restrictions on mix design and aggregate
properties. RCM has functioned well as an asphalt treated base material.

Other Info: PCC incorporating more than about 10 to 20 percent fine aggregate will have low
workability and require more water to maintain reasonable workability. This excess
water will result in an overall strength reduction.

For a given compressive strength (at 28 days), both the static and dynamic moduli of
elasticity for recycled-aggregate concrete are significantly lower (up to 40 percent)
than those for concrete containing virgin aggregate (FHWA, 2001e).

PCC incorporating coarse RCM aggregates generally can be expected to develop


about 10 percent lower flexural strength than PCC incorporating conventional
aggregates with equal water-cement ratios and slumps.

Chlorides may be present in RCM as a result of roadway deicing salt application.


High chloride levels can cause steel corrosion within the PCC (e.g., reinforcing steel
in CRCP and dowel bars in JRCP). Fortunately, the quantity of chloride typically
found in old concrete pavement is below critical threshold values (Yrjanson, 1989).

7.2 RCM Used as Base Material


RCM is most often used as aggregate in a base or subbase course. Since it is a crushed material, the
angular aggregates will provide excellent stiffness and load transfer capability. Since RCM has a lower
specific gravity than most mineral aggregates, it provides a higher volume for the same weight of
aggregate and is therefore economically attractive to contractors (FHWA, 2001e).

Purpose: Granular base material

Materials: RCM crushed to a predetermined size

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Mix Design: None.

Other Info: Typically, crushing RCM will result in recovery of 55 to 80 percent of the original
pavement volume. In general, the larger the maximum aggregate size, the higher the
recovery rate.

RCM base material has high friction angle, typically in excess of 40° and
consequently demonstrates good stability and little post-compaction settlement
(FHWA, 2001f).

Typical CBRs range from 90 to more than 140 depending on the angularity of the
virgin concrete aggregate and strength of the portland cement matrix (Petrarca and
Galdiero, 1984).

RCM base material is generally not frost susceptible.

7.3 RCM Used as Embankment/Fill


Although it is generally of high enough quality to be used as base material, RCM can also be used for
lesser applications like embankment or fill material.

Purpose: Embankment or fill material

Materials: RCM crushed to a predetermined size

Mix Design: None.

Other Info: RCM is highly alkaline (pH in excess of 11). Therefore, contact with aluminum or
galvanized steel pipes can cause corrosion in the presence of moisture (FHWA,
2001g).

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3.1 Materials - Introduction

1 Introduction
Pavements are a conglomeration of materials. These materials, their associated properties, and their
interactions determine the properties of the resultant pavement. Thus, a good understanding of these
materials, how they are characterized and how they perform, is fundamental to understanding pavement.

This section will emphasize what each material is, how it is characterized and the typical tests used in
this characterization. This section is meant to provide an overview of these materials and as such,
provides limited in-depth technical analysis. Where needed, the generic term "binder" is used to refer to
either the asphalt binder in HMA or the portland cement paste in PCC.

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3.2 Materials - Aggregate

2 Aggregate
"Aggregate" is a collective term for the mineral materials such as sand, Major Topics on this Page
gravel and crushed stone that are used with a binding medium (such as
water, bitumen, portland cement, lime, etc.) to form compound materials 2.1 Aggregate Sources
(such as asphalt concrete and portland cement concrete). By volume,
aggregate generally accounts for 92 to 96 percent of HMA and about 70 2.2 Aggregate Production
to 80 percent of portland cement concrete. Aggregate is also used for base 2.3 Mineral Properties
and subbase courses for both flexible and rigid pavements.
2.4 Chemical Properties
Aggregates can either be natural or manufactured. Natural aggregates are
2.5 Physical Properties
generally extracted from larger rock formations through an open
excavation (quarry). Extracted rock is typically reduced to usable sizes 2.6 Aggregate as a Base Material
by mechanical crushing. Manufactured aggregate is often the byproduct
of other manufacturing industries. 2.7 Summary

This section will briefly discuss aggregate sources and quarrying operations then describe the basic aggregate mineral,
chemical and physical properties most important to pavements and the typical tests used to determine these properties. The
following source contains more detailed information on aggregate:

● National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA). Aggregate Handbook. National Stone, Sand & Gravel
Association. Arlington, VA. http://www.nssga.org.

WSDOT Aggregate Specifications

This section discusses many different aggregate tests. Rather than list WSDOT specifications for each test in their
respective sections, an overall summary of WSDOT aggregate specifications can be viewed through the below link.

In general, WSDOT uses AASHTO and ASTM testing methods in addition to specific WSDOT testing methods. All
WSDOT testing methods are contained in the WSDOT Materials Manual (M 46-01), which is available for free download
in the online technical manual library through WSDOT Engineering Publications (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/fasc/
EngineeringPublications).

2.1 Aggregate Sources


Aggregates can come from either natural or manufactured sources. Natural aggregates come from rock, of which there are
three broad geological classifications (Roberts, et al., 1996):

● Igneous rock. These rocks are primarily crystalline and are formed by the cooling of molten rock material
beneath the earth’s crust (magma).

● Sedimentary rocks. These rocks are formed from deposited insoluble material (e.g., the remains of existing rock

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deposited on the bottom of an ocean or lake). This material is transformed to rock by heat and pressure.
Sedimentary rocks are layered in appearance and are further classified based on their predominant mineral as
calcareous (limestone, chalk, etc.), siliceous (chert, sandstone, etc.) or argillaceous (shale, etc.).

● Metamorphic rock. These are igneous or sedimentary rocks that have been subjected to heat and/or pressure
great enough to change their mineral structure so as to be different from the original rock.

Manufactured rock typically consists of industrial byproducts such as slag (byproduct of the metallurgical processing –
typically produced from processing steel, tin and copper) or specialty rock that is produced to have a particular physical
characteristic not found in natural rock (such as the low density of lightweight aggregate).

2.2 Aggregate Production


Aggregates are produced in a quarry or mine (see Figure 3.1) whose basic function is to convert in situ rock into aggregate
with specified characteristics. Usually the rock is blasted or dug from the quarry walls then reduced in size using a series of
screens and crushers. Some quarries are also capable of washing the finished aggregate. This section shows the basic
process flow via a picture gallery of a typical quarry.

Figure 3.1: Aggregate Mine

2.3 Mineral Properties


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An aggregate’s mineral composition largely determines its physical characteristics and how it behaves as a pavement
material. Therefore, when selecting an aggregate source, knowledge of the quarry rock’s mineral properties can provide an
excellent clue as to the suitability of the resulting aggregate. Cordon (1979) provides some general guidelines for aggregate
used in HMA (shown in Table 3.1).

Table 3.1: Desirable Properties of Rocks for HMA


(from Cordon, 1979 as referenced in Roberts et al., 1996)

Resistance to
Rock Type Hardness, Toughness Surface Texture Crushed Shape
Stripping1,2
Igneous
Granite Fair Fair Fair Fair
Syenite Good Fair Fair Fair
Diorite Good Fair Fair Good
Basalt (trap rock) Good Good Good Good
Diabase (trap rock) Good Good Good Good
Gabbro (trap rock) Good Good Good Good

Sedimentary
Limestone Poor Good Good Fair
Sandstone Fair Good Good Good
Chert Good Fair Poor Good
Shale Poor Poor Fair Fair

Metamorphic
Gneiss Fair Fair Good Good
Schist Fair Fair Good Fair
Slate Good Fair Fair Fair
Quartzite Good Fair Good Good
Marble Poor Good Fair Fair
Serpentine Good Fair Fair Fair

Notes:

1. Aggregates that are hydrophilic (water-loving) tend to strip more readily since water more easily replaces the asphalt film
over each particle.

2. Freshly crushed aggregates with many broken ionic bonds tend to strip more easily.

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In general, relationships between mineral and physical properties are quite complex, making it difficult to accurately predict
how a particular aggregate source will behave based on mineral properties alone.

2.4 Chemical Properties


While relatively unimportant for loose aggregate, aggregate chemical properties are important in a pavement material. In
HMA, aggregate surface chemistry can determine how well an asphalt cement binder will adhere to an aggregate surface.
Poor adherence, commonly referred to as stripping, can cause premature structural failure. In PCC, aggregates containing
reactive forms of silica can react expansively with the alkalis contained in the cement paste. This expansion can cause
cracking, surface popouts and spalling. Note that some aggregate chemical properties can change over time, especially
after the aggregate is crushed. A newly crushed aggregate may display a different affinity for water than the same
aggregate that has been crushed and left in a stockpile for a year.

2.4.1 Stripping (HMA)


Although the displacement of asphalt on the aggregate particle surface by water (stripping) is a complex phenomena and is
not yet fully understood, mineralogy and chemical composition of the aggregate have been established as important
contributing factors (Roberts et al., 1996). In general, some aggregates have an affinity for water over asphalt
(hydrophilic). These aggregates tend to be acidic and suffer from stripping after exposure to water. On the other hand,
some aggregates have an affinity for asphalt over water (hydrophobic). These aggregates tend to be basic and do not suffer
from stripping problems. Additionally, an aggregate’s surface charge when in contact with water will affect its adhesion to
asphalt cement and its susceptibility to moisture damage. In sum, aggregate surface chemistry seems to be an important
factor in stripping. However, specific cause-effect relationships are still being established.

2.4.2 Alkali-Aggregate Reaction (PCC)


Alkali-aggregate reaction is the expansive reaction that takes place in
PCC between alkali (contained in the cement paste) and elements within
an aggregate. The most common is an alkali-silica reaction. This
reaction, which occurs to some extent in most PCC, can result in map or
pattern cracking (see Figure 3.2), surface popouts and spalling if it is
severe enough. The mechanism for this alkali-silica reaction proposed by
Diamond is as follows (Mindess and Young, 1981):

1. Initial alkaline depolymerization and dissolution of reactive


silica. Cement (a high-alkali substance) can increase the
solubility of non-crystalline silica and the rate at which it
dissolves. Additionally, the cement will raise the pH of the
Figure 3.2: Map/Pattern Cracking Resulting
surrounding medium which will affect the crystalline silica.
from an
2. Formation of a hydrous alkali silicate gel. The initial Alkali-Aggregate Reaction
dissolution of reactive silica then opens up the aggregate pore structure and allows more silica to dissolve into

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solution. The end result is alkali-silica gel that is formed in place. This gel formation is not expansive itself but
it does destroy the integrity of the aggregate particle.

3. Attraction of water by the gel. The gel attracts considerable amounts of water and expands. If the expansion is
great enough, the resulting stress will crack the now-weakened aggregate and surrounding cement paste.

4. Formation of a gel colloid. After the gel ingests enough water, the water takes over and the substance becomes
an alkali-silica gel disbursed in a water fluid. This fluid then escapes to surrounding cracks and voids and may
partake in secondary reactions.

This reaction can be controlled by:

● Avoiding susceptible aggregates. Local experience may show that certain types of rock contain reactive silica.
Typically rock types that may be susceptible are: siliceous limestone, chert, shale, volcanic glass, synthetic glass,
sandstone, opaline rocks and quartzite. River rock is also typically susceptible.

● Pozzolanic admixture. By reacting with the calcium hydroxide in the cement paste, a pozzolan can lower the pH
of the pore solution. Additionally, the silica contained in a pozzolan may react with the alkali in the cement.
This reaction is not harmful because it essentially skips the expansive water attraction step.

● Low-alkali cement. Less alkali available for reaction will limit gel formation.

● Low water-cement ratio. The lower the water-cement ratio, the less permeable the concrete. Low permeability
will help limit the supply of water to the alkali-silica gel.

In sum, alkali-silica reactions are expansive in nature and occur in most PCC. If the reaction is severe enough it can
fracture aggregates and surrounding paste resulting in cracking, popouts and spalling. There are several ways of avoiding
this reaction, the simplest of which is just avoiding susceptible aggregate.

2.5 Physical Properties


Aggregate physical properties are the most readily apparent aggregate properties and they also have the most direct effect
on how an aggregate performs as either a pavement material constituent or by itself as a base or subbase material.
Commonly measured physical aggregate properties are (Roberts et al., 1996):

● Gradation and size

● Toughness and abrasion resistance

● Durability and soundness

● Particle shape and surface texture

● Specific gravity

● Cleanliness and deleterious materials

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These are not the only physical properties of aggregates but rather the most commonly measured. Tests used to quantify
these properties are largely empirical. The physical properties of an aggregate can change over time. For instance, a newly
crushed aggregate may contain more dust and thus be less receptive to binding with an asphalt binder than one that has been
crushed and stored in a stockpile for a year.

2.5.1 Gradation and Size


The particle size distribution, or gradation, of an aggregate is one of the most influential aggregate characteristics in
determining how it will perform as a pavement material. In HMA, gradation helps determine almost every important
property including stiffness, stability, durability, permeability, workability, fatigue resistance, frictional resistance and
resistance to moisture damage (Roberts et al., 1996). In PCC, gradation helps determine durability, porosity, workability,
cement and water requirements, strength, and shrinkage. Because of this, gradation is a primary concern in HMA and PCC
mix design and thus most agencies specify allowable aggregate gradations for both.

2.5.1.1 Maximum Aggregate Size

Maximum aggregate size can affect HMA, PCC and base/subbase courses in several ways. In HMA, instability may result
from excessively small maximum sizes; and poor workability and/or segregation may result from excessively large
maximum sizes (Roberts et al., 1996). In PCC, large maximum sizes may not fit between reinforcing bar openings, but they
will generally increase PCC strength because the water-cement ratio can be lowered. ASTM C 125 defines the maximum
aggregate size in one of two ways:

● Maximum size. The smallest sieve through which 100 percent of the aggregate sample particles pass. Superpave
defines the maximum aggregate size as "one sieve larger than the nominal maximum size" (Roberts et al.,
1996).

● Nominal maximum size. The largest sieve that retains some of the aggregate particles but generally not more than
10 percent by weight. Superpave defines nominal maximum aggregate size as "one sieve size larger than the
first sieve to retain more than 10 percent of the material" (Roberts et al., 1996).

Thus, it is important to specify whether "maximum size" or "nominal maximum size" is being referenced.

2.5.1.2 Gradation Test

The gradation of a particular aggregate is most often determined by a sieve analysis (see Figure 3.3). In a sieve analysis, a
sample of dry aggregate of known weight is separated through a series of sieves with progressively smaller openings. Once
separated, the weight of particles retained on each sieve is measured and compared to the total sample weight. Particle size
distribution is then expressed as a percent retained by weight on each sieve size. Results are usually expressed in tabular or
graphical format. PCC gradation graphs are traditionally semi-logarithmic, while HMA graphs often employ the standard
0.45 power gradation graph.

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Figure 3.3: Sieve Analysis

Figure 3.4 shows typical gradation graphs. Note that sieve sizes are presented from smallest to largest, left to right. The
number and size of the sieves used in a sieve analysis depend upon specification requirements.

Figure 3.4: Example Sieve Analysis Plot on a 0.45 Power Graph

For PCC, aggregate is typically classified as either "coarse" or "fine". Coarse aggregate is generally the fraction retained on
the 4.75 mm (No. 4) sieve while fine aggregate is the fraction passing the 4.75 mm (No. 4) sieve.

Standard Sieve Analysis test methods are:

● AASHTO T 27 and ASTM C 136: Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates

● AASHTO T 11 and ASTM C 117: Materials Finer Than 75-µm (No. 200) Sieve in Mineral Aggregate by
Washing

● AASHTO T 30: Mechanical Analysis of Extracted Aggregate (this is used for aggregate extracted from
bituminous mixtures)

2.5.1.3 Desired Gradation

Gradation has a profound effect on material performance. But what is the best gradation? This is a complicated question,
the answer to which will vary depending upon the material (HMA or PCC), its desired characteristics, loading,
environmental, material, structural and mix property inputs. Therefore, gradation requirements for specific HMA and PCC
mixes are discussed in their respective pavement type sections. This section presents some basic guidelines applicable to
common dense-graded mixes.

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It might be reasonable to believe that the best gradation is one that produces the maximum density. This would involve a
particle arrangement where smaller particles are packed between the larger particles, which reduces the void space between
particles. This creates more particle-to-particle contact, which in HMA would increase stability and reduce water
infiltration. In PCC, this reduced void space reduces the amount of cement paste required. However, some minimum
amount of void space is necessary to:

● Provide adequate volume for the binder (asphalt binder or portland cement) to occupy.

● Promote rapid drainage and resistance to frost action for base and subbase courses.

Therefore, although it may not be the "best" aggregate gradation, a maximum density gradation does provide a common
reference. A widely used equation to describe a maximum density gradation was developed by Fuller and Thompson in
1907. Their basic equation is:

where: P = % finer than the sieve

d = aggregate size being considered

D = maximum aggregate size to be used

n = parameter which adjusts curve for fineness or coarseness (for maximum particle density n
≈ 0.5 according to Fuller and Thompson)

The 0.45 Power Maximum Density Curve


In the early 1960s, the FHWA introduced the standard gradation graph used in the HMA industry today. This graph uses n
= 0.45 and is convenient for determining the maximum density line and adjusting gradation (Roberts et al., 1996). This
graph is slightly different than other gradation graphs because it uses the sieve size raised to the nth power (usually 0.45) as
the x-axis units. Thus, n = 0.45 appears as a straight diagonal line (see Figure 3.5). The maximum density line appears as a
straight line from zero to the maximum aggregate size for the mixture being considered (the exact location of this line is
somewhat debatable, but the locations shown in Figure 3.4 are generally accepted).

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Figure 3.5: Maximum Density Curves for 0.45 Power Gradation Graph
(each curve is for a different maximum aggregate size)

To illustrate how the maximum density curves in Figure 3.5 are determined, Table 2.2 shows the associated calculations for
a maximum aggregate size of 19.0 mm.

Table 2.2: Calculations for a 0.45 Power Gradation Curve Using 19.0-mm (0.75-inch) Maximum Aggregate Size

Particle Size (mm) % Passing

19.0

12.5

9.5

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2.00

0.300

0.075

Gradation Terminology

Several common terms are used to classify gradation. These are not precise technical terms but rather terms that refer to
gradations that share common characteristics (refer to Figure 3.6):

● Dense or well-graded. Refers to a gradation that is near the FHWA’s 0.45 power curve for maximum density.
The most common HMA and PCC mix designs in the U.S. tend to use dense graded aggregate. Typical
gradations are near the 0.45 power curve but not right on it. Generally, a true maximum density gradation
(exactly on the 0.45 power curve) would result in unacceptably low VMA.

● Gap graded. Refers to a gradation that contains only a small percentage of aggregate particles in the mid-size
range. The curve is flat in the mid-size range. Some PCC mix designs use gap graded aggregate to provide a
more economical mix since less sand can be used for a given workability. HMA gap graded mixes can be prone
to segregation during placement.

● Open graded. Refers to a gradation that contains only a small percentage of aggregate particles in the small
range. This results in more air voids because there are not enough small particles to fill in the voids between the
larger particles. The curve is near vertical in the mid-size range, and flat and near-zero in the small-size range.

● Uniformly graded. Refers to a gradation that contains most of the particles in a very narrow size range. In
essence, all the particles are the same size. The curve is steep and only occupies the narrow size range specified.

● Restricted zone. Note: the restricted zone will be eliminated by late 2002. The restricted zone refers to a
particular area of the FHWA’s 0.45 power gradation graph associated with Superpave mix designs. It was
originally observed that mixes closely following the 0.45 power maximum density line in the finer gradations
sometimes had unacceptably low VMA. Therefore, in an attempt to minimize this problem, Superpave included
a restricted zone through which a typical gradation should not pass as a recommended guideline. However, since
the restricted zone's original inception, NCHRP Report 464: The Restricted Zone in the Superpave Aggregate
Gradation Specification has concluded that "...gradations that violated the restricted zone performed similarly to
or better than the mixes having gradations passing outside the restricted zone; therefore, the restricted zone
requirement is redundant for mixes meeting all Superpave volumetric parameters...It has been recommended to
delete references to the restricted zone as either a requirement or a guideline from the AASHTO specification

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(AASHTO MP 2) and practice (AASHTO PP 28) for Superpave volumetric mix design." (Kandhal and Cooley,
2001).

WSDOT Restricted Zone Note

WSDOT experience and analysis has shown that HMA mixes crossing 0.45
power curve in the restricted zone at a severe angle may be susceptible to
rutting.

● Fine gradation. A gradation that, when plotted on the 0.45 power gradation graph, falls mostly above the 0.45
power maximum density line. The term generally applies to dense graded aggregate.

● Coarse gradation. A gradation that, when plotted on the 0.45 power gradation graph, falls mostly below the 0.45
power maximum density line. The term generally applies to dense graded aggregate.

Figure 3.6: FHWA Gradation Graph Showing Representative Gradations

Permeability
Figure 3.7 shows some typical aggregate gradations and their associated permeabilities. This shows that even a small
amount of particles passing the 0.075-mm (#200) sieve results in very low permeability. Therefore, for base and subbase
aggregates where permeability is important for drainage and frost resistance, many agencies will specify a maximum
percent-by-weight passing for this sieve.

WSDOT Frost Resistant Crushed Aggregate

WSDOT uses crushed surfacing base course (CSBC) as a frost resistant crushed aggregate because it has a maximum
of only 7.5% passing the 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve.

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Figure 3.7: Typical Aggregate Gradations and Permeabilities (after Ridgeway, 1982)

Table 3.3 and Figure 3.8 show some typical specification bands for aggregate courses taken from the FHWA 1996 Standard
Specifications (FHWA, 1996).

Table 3.3: Some Representative Gradation Specifications for Aggregate Courses from
the 1996 FHWA Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects (FP-96)

Percent Passing
Sieve Size Subbase Course Base Course Surface Course
(Grading A) (Grading B) (Grading F)

63 mm 2.5-inch - 100 -

50 mm 2-inch 100 97 - 100 -

37.5 mm 1.5-inch 97 - 100 - -

25.0 mm 1-inch - - 100

19.0 mm 0.75-inch - - 97 - 100

12.5 mm 0.5-inch - 40 - 60 (8) -

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4.75 mm No. 4 40 - 60 (8) - 41 - 71 (7)

0.425 mm No. 40 - 9 - 17 (4) 12 - 28 (5)

0.075 mm No. 200 0 - 12 (4) 4 - 8 (3) 5 - 16 (4)

Notes:

1. Number in parentheses indicates the allowable deviations (± ) from the target value.

2. These are only representative gradations and do not represent a comprehensive list of FHWA specified gradations.

Figure 3.8: Some Representative Gradation Specifications for Aggregate Courses from
the 1996 FHWA Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects (FP-96)
(click on text in the Figure to show plots)

2.5.1.4 Fineness Modulus

For aggregates used in PCC, another common gradation description for fine aggregate is the fineness modulus. It is
described in ASTM C 125 and is a single number used to describe a gradation curve. It is defined as:

where: F.M. = fineness modulus

specified = 0.150 mm (No. 100), 0.30 mm (No. 50), 0.60 mm (No. 30), 1.18 mm (No. 16),
sieves 2.36 mm (No. 8), 4.75 mm (No. 4), 9.5 mm (0.375-in.), 19.0 mm (0.75-in.), 37.5
mm (1.5-in.), and larger increasing in the size ratio of 2:1.

The larger the fineness modulus, the more coarse the aggregate. A typical fineness modulus for fine aggregate used in PCC
is between 2.70 and 3.00.

2.5.2 Toughness and Abrasion Resistance


Aggregates undergo substantial wear and tear throughout their life. In general, they should be hard and tough enough to
resist crushing, degradation and disintegration from any associated activities including manufacturing, stockpiling,
production, placing, compaction (in the case of HMA) and consolidation (in the case of PCC) (Roberts et al., 1996).
Furthermore, they must be able to adequately transmit loads from the pavement surface to the underlying layers (and
eventually the subgrade). Aggregates not adequately resistant to abrasion and polishing will cause premature structural

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failure and/or a loss of skid resistance.

2.5.2.1 Los Angeles Abrasion Test

A common test used to characterize toughness and abrasion resistance is the Los Angeles (L.A.) abrasion test. For the L.A.
abrasion test, the portion of an aggregate sample retained on the 1.70 mm (No. 12) sieve is placed in a large rotating drum
that contains a shelf plate attached to the outer wall (the Los Angeles machine – see Figure 3.9). A specified number of
steel spheres are then placed in the machine and the drum is rotated for 500 revolutions at a speed of 30 - 33 revolutions per
minute (RPM). The material is then extracted and separated into material passing the 1.70 mm (No. 12) sieve and material
retained on the 1.70 mm (No. 12) sieve. The retained material (larger particles) is then weighed and compared to the
original sample weight. The difference in weight is reported as a percent of the original weight and called the "percent loss".

Figure 3.9: Los Angeles Abrasion Machine

Table 3.4 shows some typical test values from the L.A. abrasion test. Unfortunately, the test does not seem to correspond
well with field measurements (especially with slags, cinders and other lightweight aggregates). Some aggregates with high
L.A. abrasion loss, such as soft limestone, provide excellent performance. However, no matter the performance
characteristics, aggregate with high L.A. abrasion loss values will tend to create dust during production and handling, which
may produce environmental and mixture control problems.

Table 3.4: Typical L.A. Abrasion Loss Values


(from Roberts et al., 1996; NHI, 2000)

Typical L.A. Abrasion Loss


Rock Type
(by percent weight)
General Values
Hard, igneous rocks 10
Soft limestones and sandstones 60

Ranges for Specific Rocks


Basalt 10 - 17

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Dolomite 18 - 30
Gneiss 33 - 57
Granite 27 - 49
Limestone 19 - 30
Quartzite 20 - 35

Standard L.A. abrasion test methods are:

● AASHTO T 96 and ASTM C 131: Resistance to Degradation of Small-Size Coarse Aggregate by Abrasion and
Impact in the Los Angeles Machine

● ASTM C 535: Resistance to Degradation of Large-Size Coarse Aggregate by Abrasion and Impact in the Los
Angeles Machine

2.5.3 Durability and Soundness


Aggregates must be resistant to breakdown and disintegration from weathering (wetting/drying and freezing/thawing) or
they may break apart and cause premature pavement distress. Durability and soundness are terms typically given to an
aggregate’s weathering resistance characteristic. Aggregates used in HMA are dried in the production process and therefore
should contain almost no water. Thus, for aggregate used in HMA, freezing/thawing should not be a significant problem.
This is not true for aggregate used in PCC or as base and/or subbase courses. These aggregates typically contain some
water (on the order of 0.1% to 3% usually) and are not dried prior to use.

2.5.3.1 Soundness Tests

The most common soundness test involves repeatedly submerging an aggregate sample in a saturated solution of sodium or
magnesium sulfate. This process causes salt crystals to form in the aggregate pores, which simulate ice crystal formation
(see Figure 3.10 and 3.11). The basic procedure is as follows (from Roberts et al., 1996):

● Oven dry the sample and separate it into specific sieve sizes.

● Immerse the sample in a saturated solution of sodium or magnesium sulfate and let it remain at a constant
temperature for 18 hours.

● Remove the sample from the solution and dry to a constant weight at 110 ± 5oC (230 ± 9oF).

● Repeat this cycle five times.

● Wash the sample to remove the salt; then dry.

● Determine the loss in weight for each specific sieve size and compute a weighted average percent loss for the
entire sample.

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The maximum loss values typically range from 10 – 20 percent for every five cycles.

Figure 3.10: Aggregates Before a Figure 3.11: Aggregates After a


Soundness Test Soundness Test

Other soundness tests use relatively the same procedure but substitute actual freezing and thawing in place of the salt
crystallization of the procedure described previously. Cracks in PCC resulting from poor aggregate freeze-thaw resistance
are often called durability cracks or "D cracks".

Standard soundness tests are:

● AASHTO T 104 and ASTM C 88: Soundness of Aggregates by Use of Sodium Sulfate or Magnesium Sulfate

● AASHTO T 103: Soundness of Aggregates by Freezing and Thawing

WSDOT Degradation Test

WSDOT does not use an aggregate soundness test but rather uses its own test to determine a "degradation value".
This degradation value test determines the susceptibility of an aggregate to degrade into plastic fines when abraded in
the presence of water.

Basically, the procedure takes a sample of aggregate retained on the 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) sieve and crushes it so that it
will then pass the 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) sieve. This crushed material is then placed in a container filled with water and
the container is agitated for 20 minutes. The amount of fines generated is measured and the result is reported as a
degradation factor. The more fines generated, the lower the degradation factor. Degradation factor values can range
from 0 - 100 with higher values representing less degradation.

2.5.4 Particle Shape and Surface Texture


Particle shape and surface texture are important for proper compaction, deformation resistance, HMA workability and PCC

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workability. However, the ideal shape for HMA and PCC is different because aggregates serve different purposes in each
material. In HMA, since aggregates are relied upon to provide stiffness and strength by interlocking with one another,
cubic angular-shaped particles with a rough surface texture are best. However, in PCC, where aggregates are used as an
inexpensive high-strength material to occupy volume, workability is the major issue regarding particle shape. Therefore, in
PCC rounded particles are better. Relevant particle shape/texture characteristics are:

● Particle shape. Rounded particles create less particle-to-particle interlock than angular particles and thus provide
better workability and easier compaction. However, in HMA less interlock is generally a disadvantage as
rounded aggregate will continue to compact, shove and rut after construction. Thus angular particles are desirable
for HMA (despite their poorer workability), while rounded particles are desirable for PCC because of their better
workability (although particle smoothness will not appreciably affect strength) (PCA, 1988).

● Flat or elongated particles. These particles tend to impede compaction or break during compaction and thus,
may decrease strength.

● Smooth-surfaced particles. These particles have a lower surface-to-volume ratio than rough-surfaced particles
and thus may be easier to coat with binder. However, in HMA asphalt tends to bond more effectively with rough-
surfaced particles, and in PCC rough-surfaced particles provide more area to which the cement paste can bond.
Thus, rough-surface particles are desirable for both HMA and PCC.

2.5.4.1 Tests for Particle Shape and Surface Texture

There are several common tests used to identify and quantify aggregate particle shape and surface texture. Among the most
popular are:

● Particle index

● Percent fractured face (or coarse aggregate angularity)

● Fine aggregate angularity

Other tests, using automated machines equipped with video cameras and lasers are under development.

Particle Index
The particle index test provides a combined shape-texture characterization. This test requires that an aggregate sample be
divided up into specific size fraction. Each size fraction is placed into a container in three layers. This is done twice; the
first time, each layer is compacted with 10 blows of a tamping rod, and the second time, each layer is compacted with 50
blows of a tamping rod. The particle index is computed from the following equation:

where: Ia = particle index

V10 = voids in aggregate compacted at 10 drops per layer

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V50 = voids in aggregate compacted at 50 drops per layer

The overall sample particle index is computed as a weighted average of the individual size fraction particles indexes based
on the size fraction weights. Aggregates composed of rounded, smooth particles may have a low particle index of around 6
or 7, while aggregates composed of angular, rough particles may have a high particle index of between 15 and 20 or more.

The standard particle index test is:

● ASTM D 3398: Index of Aggregate Particle Shape and Texture

Percent Fractured Face (or Coarse Aggregate Angularity)


For coarse aggregate, a sample retained on the 4.75 mm (No. 4) sieve is collected and the number of particles with fractured
faces is compared to the number of particles without fractured faces. A fractured face is defined as an "angular, rough, or
broken surface of an aggregate particle created by crushing, by other artificial means, or by nature" (ASTM, 2000). In
order for a face to be considered fractured it must constitute at least 25 percent of the maximum cross-sectional area of the
rock particle.

The standard percent fractured face test is:

● ASTM D 5821: Determining the Percentage of Fractured Particles in Coarse Aggregate

Fine Aggregate Angularity


Superpave uses a test to determine the uncompacted void content of fine
aggregate, which gives some indication of fine aggregate particle shape and
surface texture. The test involves filling a 100 mL cylinder with fine aggregate
(see Figure 3.12), defined as that aggregate passing the 2.36 mm (No. 8) sieve, by
pouring it from a funnel at a fixed height. After filling, the amount of aggregate in
the cylinder is measured and a void content is calculated. The assumption is that
this void content is related to the aggregate angularity and surface texture (e.g.,
more smooth rounded particles will result in a lower void content). The key
disadvantage to this test is that inclusion of flat and elongated particles, which are
known to cause mix problems, will cause the fine aggregate angularity test results
to appear more favorable. Finally, surface texture may have a larger effect on mix
performance than fine aggregate angularity values.

The standard fine aggregate angularity test is:


Figure 3.12: Fine Aggregate
● AASHTO T 304 and ASTM C 1252: Uncompacted Void Content of Angularity Test
Fine Aggregate

Flat or Elongated Particles


Flat and elongated particles can cause HMA problems because they tend to reorient and break under compaction.
Therefore, they are typically restricted to some maximum percentage. An elongated particle is most often defined as one
that exceeds a 5:1 length-to-width ratio. Testing is done on a representative sample using a caliper device and a two-step

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process. First, the longest dimension is measured on one end of the caliper (see Figure 3.13). Then, based on the position
of the pivot point (numbered holes shown in Figure 3.12), the other end of the caliper (see Figure 3.14) is automatically
sized to the predetermined length-to-width ratio (in Figures 3.13 and 3.14 it is set at 2:1). If the aggregate is able to pass
between the bar and caliper it fails the test.

The standard flat or elongated particle test is:

● ASTM D 4791: Flat or Elongated Particles in Coarse Aggregate

Figure 3.13: Testing Caliper Measuring the Elongated


Figure 3.14: Testing Caliper Measuring the Flat Dimension
Dimension

2.5.5 Specific Gravity


Aggregate specific gravity is useful in making weight-volume conversions and in calculating the void content in compacted
HMA (Roberts et al., 1996). AASHTO M 132 and ASTM E 12 define specific gravity as:

"…the ratio of the mass of a unit volume of a material at a stated temperature to the mass of the same volume of gas-
free distilled water at a stated temperature."

The commonly used "stated temperature" is 23° C (73.4° F). Given the structure of a typical aggregate particle, there are
several different kinds of specific gravity. This section will first describe the structure of a typical aggregate particle and
then discuss each type of specific gravity and its use.

2.5.5.1 Aggregate Particle Structure

A typical aggregate particle consists of some amount of solid material along with a certain amount of air voids. These air
voids within the aggregate particle (see Figure 3.15) can become filled with water, binder or both (see Figure 3.16). It takes
a finite amount of time for water/binder to penetrate these pores, so specific gravity test procedures generally contain a 15
to 19-hour (for AASHTO procedures) or a 24-hour (for ASTM procedures) soak period for the purpose of allowing

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penetration into these pores.

Figure 3.15: Dry Aggregate Figure 3.16: Wet Aggregate

Depending upon how aggregate voids are dealt with, calculated aggregate specific gravities can vary. If they are excluded
entirely, then the specific gravity is that of the solid portion of the aggregate only, while if they are included entirely then
the specific gravity essentially becomes a weighted average of the specific gravity of the solid aggregate and whatever is in
its voids.

2.5.5.2 Aggregate Specific Gravities

Generally, there are three different aggregate specific gravities used in association with pavements: bulk, apparent and
effective.

2.5.6 Cleanliness and Deleterious Materials


Aggregates must be relatively clean when used in HMA or PCC. Vegetation, soft particles, clay lumps, excess dust and
vegetable matter are not desirable because they generally affect performance by quickly degrading, which causes a loss of
structural support and/or prevents binder-aggregate bonding.

2.5.6.1 Tests for Deleterious Materials – Sand Equivalent

The sand equivalent test is a rapid field test to show the relative proportions of fine dust or claylike materials in aggregate

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(or soils). A sample of aggregate passing the 4.75-mm (No. 4) sieve and a small amount of flocculating solution are poured
into a graduated cylinder and are agitated to loosen the claylike coatings from the sand particles. The sample is then
irrigated with additional flocculation solution forcing the claylike material into suspension above the sand. After a
prescribed sedimentation period, the height of flocculated clay and height of sand are determined. The sand equivalent is
determined from the below equation:

Cleaner aggregates will have higher sand equivalent values. Agencies often specify a minimum sand equivalent around 25
to 35 (Roberts et al., 1996).

Standard sand equivalent tests are:

● AASHTO T 176: Plastic Fines in Graded Aggregates and Soils by Use of the Sand Equivalent Test

● ASTM D 2419: Sand Equivalent Value of Soils and Fine Aggregate

2.5.6.2 Tests for Deleterious Materials – Clay Lumps and Friable Particles

To test for clay lumps or friable particles, a sample is first washed and dried to remove material passing the 0.075-mm (No.
200) sieve. The remaining sample is separated into different sizes and each size is weighed and soaked in water for 24
hours. Particles that can be broken down into fines with fingers are classified as clay lumps or friable material. The
amount of this material is calculated by percentage of total sample weight. Specifications usually limit clay and friable
particles to a maximum of one percent.

Standard sand equivalent tests are:

● AASHTO T 112 and ASTM C 142: Clay Lumps and Friable Particles in Aggregate

2.5.7 Moisture Content


Since aggregates are porous (to some extent) they can absorb moisture. Generally this is not a concern for HMA because
the aggregate is dried before HMA production. However, this is a concern for PCC because aggregate is generally not
dried and therefore the aggregate moisture content will affect the water content (and thus the water-cement ratio also) of the
produced PCC and the water content also affects aggregate proportioning (because it contributes to aggregate weight). In
general, there are four aggregate moisture conditions (see Figure 3.17):

1. Oven-dry (OD). All moisture is removed by heating the aggregate in an oven at 105°C (221°F) to constant
weight (this usually constitutes heating it overnight). All pores connected to the surface are empty and the
aggregate is fully absorbent.

2. Airdry (AD). All moisture is removed from the surface, but pores connected to the surface are partially filled

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with water. The aggregate is somewhat absorbent.

3. Saturated surface dry (SSD). All pores connected to the surface are filled with water, but the surface is dry. The
aggregate is neither absorbent nor does it contribute water to the concrete mixture.

4. Wet. All pores connected to the surface are filled with water and there is excess moisture on the surface. The
aggregate contributes water to the concrete mixture.

Note that pores not connected to the surface are not considered.

Figure 3.17: Aggregate Moisture States


(these moisture states only consider the aggregate pores that are connected to the surface)

These conditions are used to calculate various aggregate properties. The moisture content of an aggregate is expressed as:

where: MC = moisture content expressed as a percentage

Wstock = weight of aggregate in stockpile condition

WSSD = weight of aggregate in SSD condition

If the moisture content is positive, the aggregate has surface moisture and will contribute water to the PCC, while if the
moisture content is negative the aggregate is air dry to some degree and will absorb moisture from the PCC.

Typical moisture tests are:

● ASTM C 70: Surface Moisture in Fine Aggregate

● AASHTO T 85 and ASTM C 127: Specific Gravity and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate

● AASHTO T 84 and ASTM C 128: Specific Gravity and Absorption of Fine Aggregate

● AASHTO T 255: Total Evaporable Moisture Content of Aggregate by Drying

● ASTM C 566: Total Moisture Content of Aggregate by Drying

2.6 Aggregate as a Base Material


Aggregate is often used by itself as an unbound base or subbase course. When used as such, aggregate is typically
characterized by the preceding physical properties as well as overall layer stiffness. Layer stiffness is characterized by the
same tests used to characterize subgrade stiffness.

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2.7 Summary
Aggregates are a principal material in pavement. Additionally, they are often used in either stabilized or unstabilized base/
subbase courses. They comprise the majority of pavement volume but only account for a minority of total pavement
material costs. Therefore, a knowledge of aggregate properties is crucial to designing a high quality pavement. Aggregates
can be either natural or man-made and are most often characterized by their physical properties, including:

● Gradation and size

● Toughness and abrasion resistance

● Durability and soundness

● Particle shape and surface texture

● Specific gravity

● Cleanliness and deleterious materials

● Moisture content

However, aggregate chemical and material properties are also important because:

● Stripping and alkali-aggregate reactions can be affected by aggregate chemical properties.

● Aggregate behavior is largely determined by aggregate physical properties.

In sum, accurate aggregate characterization (physical, chemical and material) will not always ensure high quality aggregate,
but it can at least make structural and mix designers aware of a particular aggregate’s characteristics, which may aid in
critical design decisions.

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3 Asphalt
Asphalt is one of the two principal constituents of HMA. Asphalt functions as Major Topics on this Page
an inexpensive (typically, $0.05/lb.), waterproof, thermoplastic, viscoelastic
adhesive. In other words, it acts as the glue that holds the road together 3.1 Background
(Anderson, Youtcheff and Zupanick, 2000). But just what is asphalt and how is
it characterized? Like many engineering substances, a vernacular definition of 3.2 Refining
"asphalt" is rather imprecise. For engineering purposes, the definition needs to 3.3 Chemical Properties
be more unequivocal. ASTM D 8 provides the following definitions:
3.4 Physical Properties
asphalt A dark brown to black cementitious material in which the 3.5 Grading Systems
predominating constituents are bitumens, which occur in nature or
3.6 Asphalt Binder Modifiers
are obtained in petroleum processing.
3.7 Other Forms of Asphalt Used in Paving
asphalt cement A fluxed or unfluxed asphalt specially prepared as to quality and
3.8 Summary
consistency for direct use in the manufacture of bituminous
pavements, and having a penetration at 25° C (77° F) of between 5
and 300, under a load of 100 grams applied for 5 seconds.

bitumen A class of black or dark-colored (solid, semi-solid or viscous)


cementitious substances, natural or manufactured, composed
principally of high molecular weight hydrocarbons, of which
asphalts, tars, pitches, and asphaltenes are typical.

flux A bituminous material, generally liquid, used for softening other


bituminous materials.

This section uses the generic term, "asphalt binder", to represent the principal binding agent in HMA. "Asphalt binder" includes
asphalt cement as well as any material added to modify the original asphalt cement properties. The term "asphalt cement" is used
to represent unmodified asphalt cement only.

3.1 Background
The first recorded use of asphalt by humans was by the Sumerians around 3,000 B.C. Statues from that time period used asphalt
as a binding substance for inlaying various shells, precious stones or pearls. Other common ancient asphalt uses were preservation
(for mummies), waterproofing (pitch on ship hulls), and cementing (used to join together bricks in Babylonia). Around 1500 A.D.,
the Incas of Peru were using a composition similar to modern bituminous macadam to pave parts of their highway system. In
more modern times, asphalt paving use first began with foot paths in the 1830s and then progressed to actual asphalt roadways in
the 1850s. The first asphalt roadways in the U.S. appeared in the early 1870s (Abraham, 1929).

In the U.S., Trinidad (near the coast of Venezuela) was the earliest source of asphalt binder. Trinidad supplied about 90 percent of
all asphalt (worldwide) from 1875 to 1900 (Baker, 1903). The asphalt was produced from a "lake" (see Figure 3.18) with a surface
area of 465,000 m2 (46.5 hectares or 115 acres) and a depth of about 24 meters (75 feet). In 1900, Tillson estimated that this
"lake" contained about 8,000,000 tonnes of "asphalt" (compare this against 1990 consumption in Europe and the U.S. of
approximately 40,000,000 tonnes (tons)). This asphalt, once free of water, was too "hard" to use in paving (Krchma and Gagle,
1974). In fact, Trinidad Lake asphalt, when loaded into a ship’s holds for transport, would fuse to the point that removal required

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chopping.

Figure 3.18: Trinidad Lake Asphalt

Typically, producers added flux, created from petroleum distillation, to Trinidad Lake asphalt to soften it for use in early
pavements. It appears that the earliest use of asphalt binder in the U.S. was about 1874 for a project built in Washington, D.C.
This binder was a combination of Trinidad Lake asphalt and a flux distilled from crude oil. Without question, these early asphalt
binders were quite variable, making pavement mix and structural design somewhat challenging. By the 1880s, asphalt binders
were regularly produced from crude oil in California and by 1902 in Texas as well. In 1907, crude oil-based asphalt production
surpassed "natural" asphalt production (Krchma and Gagle, 1974). Today, asphalt binder for HMA pavements is produced almost
entirely from petroleum refining.

This section covers the following topics:

● Asphalt cement refining

● The chemical properties of asphalt binder

● The physical properties of asphalt binder

● Asphalt binder grading systems

● Asphalt binder modifiers

● Other types of asphalt used in paving

3.2 Refining
In the simplest terms, asphalt binder is simply the residue left over from petroleum refining. Thus, asphalt binders are produced
mainly by petroleum refiners and, to a lesser extent, by formulators who purchase blending stock from refiners. The composition
of base crude oil from which asphalt is refined can vary widely and thus the asphalt yield from different crude oil sources can also
vary widely.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) classifies crude oils by their API gravity. API gravity is an arbitrary expression of a

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material’s density at 15.5° C (60° F) and is obtained in the following equation:

API gravity can be used as a rough estimate of asphalt yield with lower API gravity crude oils producing more asphalt (see Table
3.5). Figure 3.19 shows the composition of three very different crude oils and their associated API gravities.

Table 3.5: API Gravities of Some Typical Substances

Substance Typical API Gravity

Water 10
Asphalts 5 – 10

Gasoline 55
Low API gravity crude oil < 25 (yields high percentages of asphalt)
High API gravity crude oil > 25 (yields low percentages of asphalt)

Figure 3.19: Make-up of Crude Oil


(after Corbett, 1984)

3.2.1 Basic Refining Process

Crude oil is heated in a large furnace to about 340° C (650° F) and partially vaporized. It is then fed into a distillation tower where
the lighter components vaporize and are drawn off for further processing. The residue from this process (the asphalt) is usually fed
into a vacuum distillation unit where heavier gas oils are drawn off. Asphalt cement grade is controlled by the amount of heavy
gas oil remaining. Other techniques can then extract additional oils from the asphalt. Depending upon the exact process and the
crude oil source, different asphalt cements of different properties can be produced. Additional desirable properties can be obtained
by blending crude oils before distillation or asphalt cements after distillation.

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Asphalt binder specifications used to be relatively lenient, and gave refiners a high level of production flexibility. Therefore,
refiners tended to view asphalt as a simple, convenient way to use the residual material from the refinery operation. Partially as a
result of Superpave specifications, asphalt binder specifications are now more stringent and asphalt refiners increasingly perceive
asphalt as a value-added product. Superpave specifications have also caused many refiners to reevaluate their commitment to
asphalt production; some have made a strategic decision to de-emphasize or cease asphalt production, though others have renewed
their efforts to produce high-quality binders (Anderson, Youtcheff and Zupanick, 2000).

3.3 Chemical Properties


Asphalt binders can be characterized by their chemical composition although they rarely are for HMA pavements. However, it is
an asphalt binder’s chemical properties that determine its physical properties. Therefore, a basic understanding of asphalt
chemistry can help one understand how and why asphalt behaves the way it does. This subsection briefly describes the basic
chemical composition of asphalts and why they behave as they do.

3.3.1 Basic Composition


Asphalt chemistry can be described on the molecular level as well as on the intermolecular (microstructure) level. On the
molecular level, asphalt is a mixture of complex organic molecules that range in molecular weight from several hundred to several
thousand. Although these molecules exhibit certain behavioral characteristics, the behavior of asphalt is generally ruled by
behavioral characteristics at the intermolecular level – the asphalt’s microstructure (Robertson et al., 1991).

The asphalt chemical microstructure model described here is based on SHRP findings on the microstructure of asphalt using
nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and chromatography techniques. The SHRP findings describe asphalt microstructure as a
dispersed polar fluid (DPF). The DPF model explains asphalt microstructure as a continuous three-dimensional association of
polar molecules (generally referred to as "asphaltenes") dispersed in a fluid of non-polar or relatively low-polarity molecules
(generally referred to as "maltenes") (Little et al., 1994). All these molecules are capable of forming dipolar intermolecular bonds
of varying strength. Since these intermolecular bonds are weaker than the bonds that hold the basic organic hydrocarbon
constituents of asphalt together, they will break first and control the behavioral characteristics of asphalt. Therefore, asphalt’s
physical characteristics are a direct result of the forming, breaking and reforming of these intermolecular bonds or other properties
associated with molecular superstructures (Little et al., 1994).

The result of the above chemistry is a material that behaves (1) elastically through the effects of the polar molecule networks, and
(2) viscously because the various parts of the polar molecule network can move relative to one another due to their dispersion in
the fluid non-polar molecules.

3.3.2 Asphalt Behavior as a Function of its Chemical Constituents


Robertson et al. (1991) describe asphalt behavior in terms of its failure mechanisms. They describe each particular failure
mechanism as a function of an asphalt’s basic molecular or intermolecular chemistry. This section is a summary of Robertson et
al. (1991).

● Aging. Some aging is reversible, some is not. Irreversible aging is generally associated with oxidation at the molecular
level. This oxidation increases an asphalt’s viscosity with age up until a point when the asphalt is able to quench (or
halt) oxidation through immobilization of the most chemically reactive elements. Reversible aging is generally

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associated with the effects of molecular organization. Over time, the molecules within asphalt will slowly reorient
themselves into a better packed, more bound system. This results in a stiffer, more rigid material. This thixotropic
aging can be reversed by heating and agitation.

● Rutting and permanent deformation. If the molecular network is relatively simple and not interconnected, asphalt will
tend to deform inelastically under load (e.g., not all the deformation is recoverable). Additionally, asphalts with higher
percentages of non-polar dispersing molecules are better able to flow and plastically deform because the various polar
molecule network pieces can more easily move relative to one another due to the greater percentage of fluid non-polar
molecules.

● Fatigue cracking. If the molecular network becomes too organized and rigid, asphalt will fracture rather than deform
elastically under stress. Therefore, asphalts with higher percentages of polar, network-forming molecules may be more
susceptible to fatigue cracking.

● Thermal cracking. At lower temperatures even the normally fluid non-polar molecules begin to organize into a
structured form. Combined with the already-structured polar molecules, this makes asphalt more rigid and likely to
fracture rather than deform elastically under stress.

● Stripping. Asphalt adheres to aggregate because the polar molecules within the asphalt are attracted to the polar
molecules on the aggregate surface. Certain polar attractions are known to be disrupted by water (itself a polar
molecule). Additionally, the polar molecules within asphalt will vary in their ability to adhere to any one particular type
of aggregate.

● Moisture damage. Since it is a polar molecule, water is readily accepted by the polar asphalt molecules. Water can
cause stripping and/or can decrease asphalt viscosity. It typically acts like a solvent in asphalt and results in reduced
strength and increased rutting. When taken to the extreme, this same property can be used to produce asphalt
emulsions. Interestingly, from a chemical point-of-view water should have a greater effect on older asphalt. Oxidation
causes aged (or older) asphalts to contain more polar molecules. The more polar molecules an asphalt contains, the
more readily it will accept water. However, the oxidation aging effects probably counteract any moisture-related aging
effects.

In summary, asphalt is a complex chemical substance. Although basic chemical composition is important, it is an asphalt’s
chemical microstructure that is most influential in its physical behavior. Although most basic asphalt binder failure mechanisms
can be described chemically, currently there is not enough asphalt chemical knowledge to adequately predict performance.
Therefore, physical properties and tests are used.

3.4 Physical Properties


Asphalt binders are most commonly characterized by their physical properties. An asphalt binder’s physical properties directly
describe how it will perform as a constituent in HMA pavement. The challenge in physical property characterization is to develop
physical tests that can satisfactorily characterize key asphalt binder parameters and how these parameters change throughout the
life of an HMA pavement.

The earliest physical tests were empirically derived tests. Some of these tests (such as the penetration test) have been used for the
better part of the 20th century with good results. Later tests (such as the viscosity tests) were first attempts at using fundamental
engineering parameters to describe asphalt binder physical properties. Ties between tested parameters and field performance were
still quite tenuous. Superpave binder tests, developed in the 1980s and 1990s, were developed with the goal of measuring specific
asphalt binder physical properties that are directly related to field performance by engineering principles. These tests are generally

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a bit more complex but seem to accomplish a more thorough characterization of the tested asphalt binder.

This subsection, taken largely from Roberts et al. (1996), describes the more common U.S. asphalt binder physical tests. Asphalt
binder tests specifically developed or adopted by the Superpave research effort are noted by a " – Superpave" in their title.
Sections that discuss Superpave tests also discuss relevant field performance information as well as the engineering principles used
to develop the relationship between test and field performance.

3.4.1 Durability
Durability is a measure of how asphalt binder physical properties change with age (sometimes called age hardening). In general,
as an asphalt binder ages, its viscosity increases and it becomes more stiff and brittle. Age hardening is a result of a number of
factors, the principal ones being (Vallerga, Monismith and Grahthem, 1957 and Finn, 1967 as referenced by Roberts et al., 1996):

● Oxidation. The reaction of oxygen with the asphalt binder.

● Volatilization. The evaporation of the lighter constituents of asphalt binder. It is primarily a function of temperature
and occurs principally during HMA production.

● Polymerization. The combining of like molecules to form larger molecules. These larger molecules are thought to
cause a progressive hardening.

● Thixotropy. The property of asphalt binder whereby it "sets" when unagitated. Thixotropy is thought to result from
hydrophilic suspended particles that form a lattice structure throughout the asphalt binder. This causes an increase in
viscosity and thus, hardening (Exxon, 1997). Thixotropic effects can be somewhat reversed by heat and agitation.
HMA pavements with little or no traffic are generally associated with thixotropic hardening.

● Syneresis. The separation of less viscous liquids from the more viscous asphalt binder molecular network. The liquid
loss hardens the asphalt and is caused by shrinkage or rearrangement of the asphalt binder structure due to either
physical or chemical changes. Syneresis is a form of bleeding (Exxon, 1997).

● Separation. The removal of the oily constituents, resins or asphaltenes from the asphalt binder by selective absorption
of some porous aggregates.

There is no direct measure for asphalt binder aging. Rather, aging effects are accounted for by subjecting asphalt binder samples
to simulated aging then conducting other standard physical tests (such as viscosity, dynamic shear rheometer (DSR), bending beam
rheometer (BBR) and the direct tension test (DTT)). Simulating the effects of aging is important because an asphalt binder that
possesses a certain set of properties in its as-supplied state, may possess a different set of properties after aging. Asphalt binder
aging is usually split up into two categories:

● Short-term aging. This occurs when asphalt binder is mixed with hot aggregates in an HMA mixing facility.

● Long-term aging. This occurs after HMA pavement construction and is generally due to environmental exposure and
loading.

Typical aging simulation tests are:

● Thin-film oven (TFO) test

● Rolling thin-film oven (RTFO) test

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● Pressure aging vessel (PAV)

3.4.1.1 Thin-Film Oven (TFO) Test

The thin-film oven (TFO) test simulates short-term aging by heating a film of asphalt binder in an oven for 5 hours at 163° C (325°
F). The effects of heat and air are determined from changes incurred in physical properties measured before and after the oven
treatment by other test procedures.

The standard TFO test is:

● AASHTO T 179 and ASTM D 1754: Effects of Heat and Air on Asphalt Materials (Thin-Film Oven Test)

3.4.1.2 Rolling Thin-Film Oven (RTFO) Test - Superpave

The rolling thin-film oven (RTFO) test (see Figure 3.20) simulates short-term aging by heating a moving film of asphalt binder in
an oven for 85 minutes at 163° C (325° F). The effects of heat and air are determined from changes incurred in physical properties
measured before and after the oven treatment by other test procedures. The moving film is created by placing the asphalt binder
sample in a small jar (see Figure 3.21) then placing the jar in a circular metal carriage that rotates within the oven. The RTFO test
is generally considered superior to the TFO because:

● It achieves the same degree of hardening (aging) in less time (85 minutes vs. 5 hours)

● It uses a rolling action that:

❍ Allows continuous exposure of fresh asphalt binder to heat and air flow

❍ Allows asphalt binder modifiers, if used, to remain dispersed in the sample

❍ Prevents the formation of a surface skin on the sample, which may inhibit aging

Although it has been in common use by some western states for some time, Superpave adopted the RTFO test to simulate short-
term asphalt binder aging.

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Figure 3.21: RTFO Samples


Figure 3.20: Rolling Thin-Film Oven Test (left - after aging in the RTFO, center - before aging in the
RTFO, right - empty sample jar)

The standard RTFO test is:

● AASHTO T 240 and ASTM D 2872: Effects of Heat and Air on a Moving Film of Asphalt ( Rolling Thin-Film Oven
Test)

3.4.1.3 Pressure Aging Vessel (PAV) – Superpave

The pressure aging vessel (PAV) (see Figure 3.22) was adopted by Superpave to simulate the effects of long-term asphalt binder
aging that occurs as a result of 5 to 10 years HMA pavement service (Bahia and Anderson, 1994). Prior to Superpave, the general
concept of the pressure aging vessel had been used for many years in rubber product aging. The PAV is an oven-pressure vessel
combination that takes RTFO aged samples (see Figure 3.23) and exposes them to high air pressure (2070 kPa (300 psi)) and
temperature (90° C (195° F), 100° C (212° F)° or 110° C (230° F) depending upon expected climatic conditions) for 20 hours.

Aging the asphalt binder samples under pressure is advantageous because:

● There is a limited loss of volatiles

● The oxidation process can be accelerated without resorting to extremely high temperatures

The standard PAV test is:

● AASHTO PP1: Practice for Accelerated Aging of Asphalt Binder Using a Pressurized Aging Vessel

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Figure 3.22 (left): Pressure Aging Vessel

Figure 3.23 (above): PAV Sample

3.4.2 Rheology
Rheology is the study of deformation and flow of matter. Deformation and flow of the asphalt binder in HMA is important in
determining HMA pavement performance. HMA pavements that deform and flow too much may be susceptible to rutting and
bleeding, while those that are too stiff may be susceptible to fatigue or thermal cracking. HMA pavement deformation is closely
related to asphalt binder rheology. Since the rheological properties of asphalt binder vary with temperature, rheological
characterization involves two key considerations:

● To compare different asphalt binders, their rheological properties must be measured at some common reference
temperature.

● To fully characterize an asphalt binder, its rheological properties must be examined over the range of temperatures that
it may encounter during its life.

3.4.2.1 Chewing

Originally, the degree of asphalt binder softening was determined by chewing (Halstead and Welborn, 1974). A sample of asphalt
binder was literally chewed to subjectively determine its softness. This method is no longer in use today for obvious reasons.

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3.4.2.2 Penetration Test

Aside from chewing, the penetration test is the oldest asphalt test. In 1888, H.C. Bowen of the Barber Asphalt Paving Company
invented the forerunner to the penetration test, the Bowen Penetration Machine (Halstead and Welborn, 1974). It’s basic principle,
and the basic principle of the penetration test, was to determine the depth to which a truncated No. 2 sewing needle penetrated an
asphalt sample under specified conditions of load, time and temperature. In 1915, ASTM even went as far as specifying the brand
of needle (R.J. Roberts Parabola Sharps No. 2) (Halstead and Welborn, 1974).

The current penetration test (see Figure 3.24), first published in 1959, describes the following basic procedure:

● Melt and cool the asphalt binder sample under controlled conditions.

● Measure the penetration of a standard needle into the asphalt binder sample under the following conditions:

❍ Load = 100 grams

❍ Temperature = 25° C (77° F)

❍ Time = 5 seconds

The depth of penetration is measured in units of 0.1 mm and reported in penetration units (e.g., if the needle penetrates 8 mm, the
asphalt penetration number is 80). Penetration grading is based on the penetration test.

The standard penetration test is:

● AASHTO T 49 and ASTM D 5: Penetration of Bituminous Materials

3.4.2.3 Softening Point

The softening point is defined as the temperature at which a bitumen sample can no longer support the weight of a 3.5-g steel ball.

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Although it is commonly used in Europe, it is mostly used for roofing asphalts in the U.
S. Basically, two horizontal disks of bitumen, cast in shouldered brass rings (see Figure
3.25), are heated at a controlled rate in a liquid bath while each supports a steel ball. The
softening point is reported as the mean of the temperatures at which the two disks soften
enough to allow each ball, enveloped in bitumen, to fall a distance of 25 mm (1.0 inch)
(AASHTO, 2000).

The standard softening point test is:

● AASHTO T 53 and ASTM D 36: Softening Point of Bitumen (Ring-and-Ball


Apparatus)

3.4.2.4 Absolute (Dynamic) Viscosity at 60° C (140° F)


Figure 3.25: Softening Point Sample
Viscosity is simply a measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow and is described by the
following equation:

where: μ = viscosity (in cgs units of poise). poise = dyne-sec/cm2 = g/cm-sec


(the SI unit of viscosity is the Pa-sec = N-sec/m2 = 10 poise)

τ = shear stress

γ = shear rate

Asphalt binder viscosity is typically measured at 60° C (140° F) because it approximates the maximum HMA pavement surface
temperature during summer in the U.S.

The basic absolute viscosity test measures the time it takes for a fixed volume of asphalt binder to be drawn up through a capillary
tube by means of vacuum, under closely controlled conditions of vacuum and temperature (ASTM, 2001). Although absolute
viscosity is an improvement over the penetration test, it still only measures viscosity at one temperature and thus does not fully
characterize an asphalt binder’s consistency over the expected range of construction and service conditions.

The standard absolute viscosity test is:

● AASHTO T 202 and ASTM D 2171: Viscosity of Asphalts by Vacuum Capillary Viscometer

3.4.2.5 Kinematic Viscosity at 135° C (275° F)

The kinematic viscosity of a liquid is the absolute (or dynamic) viscosity divided by the density of the liquid at the temperature of
measurement. The 135° C (275° F) measurement temperature was chosen to simulate the mixing and laydown temperatures
typically encountered in HMA pavement construction.

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The basic kinematic viscosity test measures the time it takes for a fixed volume of asphalt binder to flow through a capillary
viscometer under closely controlled conditions of head and temperature (ASTM, 2001).

The standard kinematic viscosity test is:

● AASHTO T 201 and ASTM D 2170: Kinematic Viscosity of Asphalts (Bitumens)

3.4.2.6 Ductility Test

The ductility test (see Figure 3.26) measures asphalt binder ductility by stretching a standard-sized briquette of asphalt binder (see
Figure 3.27) to its breaking point. The stretched distance in centimeters at breaking is then reported as ductility. Like the
penetration test, this test has limited use since it is empirical and conducted at only one temperature (25° C (77° F)).

Figure 3.26: Ductility Test Figure 3.27: Ductility Samples

The standard ductility test is:

● AASHTO T 51 and ASTM D 113: Ductility of Bituminous Materials

3.4.2.7 Rotational (or Brookfield) Viscometer (RV) – Superpave

The rotational viscometer (RV) (see Figures 3.28 and 3.29) is used in the Superpave system to test high temperature viscosities
(the test is conducted at 135° C (275° F)). The basic RV test measures the torque required to maintain a constant rotational speed
(20 RPM) of a cylindrical spindle while submerged in an asphalt binder at a constant temperature (see Figure 3.30). This torque is
then converted to a viscosity and displayed automatically by the RV.

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Figure 3.28: Rotational


Figure 3.29: Rotational Viscometer (2) Figure 3.30: Rotational Viscometer Schematic
Viscometer (1)

The RV high-temperature viscosity measurements are meant to simulate binder workability at mixing and laydown temperatures.
Since the goal is to ensure the asphalt binder is sufficiently fluid for pumping and mixing, Superpave specifies a maximum RV
viscosity. The RV is more suitable than the capillary viscometer (used for kinematic viscosity) for testing modified asphalt
binders because some modified asphalt binders (such as those containing crumb rubber particles) can clog the capillary viscometer
and cause faulty readings.

The standard rotational (or Brookfield) viscometer test is:

● AASHTO TP 48 and ASTM D 4402: Viscosity Determination of Asphalt Binder Using Rotational Viscometer

3.4.2.8 Dynamic Shear Rheometer (DSR) – Superpave

The dynamic shear rheometer (DSR) (see Figure 3.31) is used in the Superpave system for testing medium to high temperature
viscosities (the test is conducted between 46° C (115° F) and 82° C (180° F)). The actual temperatures anticipated in the area
where the asphalt binder will be placed determine the test temperatures used.

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Figure 3.31: Dynamic Shear Rheometer Figure 3.32: Dynamic Shear Rheometer Samples

Figure 3.33: Dynamic Shear Rheometer Schematic

The basic DSR test uses a thin asphalt binder sample (see Figure 3.32) sandwiched between two plates. The lower plate is fixed
while the upper plate oscillates back and forth across the sample at 1.59 Hz to create a shearing action (see Figure 3.33). These
oscillations at 1.59 Hz (10 radians/sec) are meant to simulate the shearing action corresponding to a traffic speed of about 90 km/
hr (55 mph) (Roberts et al., 1996). The following equations are then used to determine a complex shearing modulus, G* and a
phase angle, δ:

where: τ max = maximum applied shear stress

T = maximum applied torque

r = radius of binder specimen (either 12.5 or 4 mm)

γ max = maximum resulting shear strain

θ = deflection (rotation) angle

h = specimen height (either 1 or 2 mm)

G* = complex shear modulus

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δ = phase angle. This is the time lag (expressed in radians) between the maximum applied
shear stress and the maximum resulting shear strain. For a typical neat asphalt (no
modifiers) the phase angle is about 88 - 89°, while some modified binders can
have phase angles as low as 60°.

Asphalt binders in the medium to high temperature range behave partly like an elastic solid (deformation due to loading is
recoverable – it is able to return to its original shape after a load is removed) and a viscous liquid (deformation due to loading is
non-recoverable – it cannot return to its original shape after a load is removed). By measuring G* and δ , the DSR is able to
determine the total complex shear modulus as well as its elastic and viscous components (see Figure 3.34).

Figure 3.34: Complex Shear Modulus Components

G* and δ are used as predictors of the following two HMA parameters:

1. Rutting. In order to resist rutting, an asphalt binder should be stiff (not deform too much) and it should be elastic (it
should be able to return to its original shape after load deformation). Therefore, the complex shear modulus elastic
portion, G*cosδ (see Figure 3.34), should be large. Therefore, when rutting is of greatest concern (during an HMA
pavement’s early and mid life), Superpave specifies a minimum value for the elastic component of the complex shear
modulus. Intuitively, the higher the G* value, the stiffer the asphalt binder is (able to resist deformation), and the lower
the δ value, the greater the elastic portion of G* is (able to recover its original shape after being deformed by a load).

2. Fatigue. In order to resist fatigue cracking, an asphalt binder should be elastic (able to dissipate energy by rebounding
and not cracking) but not too stiff (excessively stiff substances will crack rather than deform-then-rebound). Therefore,
the complex shear modulus viscous portion, G*sinδ (see Figure 3.34), should be small. Therefore, when fatigue
cracking is of greatest concern (late in an HMA pavement’s life), Superpave specifies a maximum value for the viscous
component of the complex shear modulus. This relationship between G*sinδ and fatigue cracking is more tenuous than
the rutting relationship discussed in #1.

Note that although they appear similar, specifying a large G*cosδ and a small G*sinδ are not the same. They both involve small
phase angles (δ ) but the key is getting an asphalt binder whose complex shear modulus (G*) is neither too large nor too small.

The standard dynamic shear rheometer test is:

● AASHTO TP 5: Determining the Rheological Properties of Asphalt Binder Using a Dynamic Shear Rheometer (DSR)

3.4.2.9 Bending Beam Rheometer (BBR) – Superpave

The bending beam rheometer (BBR, see Figure 3.35) is used in the Superpave system to test asphalt binders at low temperatures
where the chief failure mechanism is thermal cracking. The BBR basically subjects a simple asphalt beam to a small (100-g) load
over 240 seconds (see Figure 3.36). Then, using basic beam theory, the BBR calculates beam stiffness (S(t)) and the rate of change
of that stiffness (m-value) as the load was applied.

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where: S(t) = creep stiffness at time, t = 60 seconds

P = applied constant load (980 ± 20 mN), obtained using a 100


g load. Note that 100 g multiplied by the force of
gravity (9.8 m/s2) = 0.98 N, or 980 mN

L = distance between beam supports, 102 mm

b = beam width, 12.5 mm

h = beam thickness, 6.25 mm

δ (t) = deflection at time, t = 60 seconds

The m-value is simply the rate of change of the stiffness at time, t = 60 seconds and is used to describe how the asphalt binder
relaxes under load.

Figure 3.35: Bending Beam Rheometer

Figure 3.36: Bending Beam Rheometer Schematic

The BBR test is meant to simulate asphalt binder stiffness after two hours of loading at the minimum HMA pavement design
temperature. Creep stiffness (S(t)) is related to thermal stresses in an HMA pavement due to shrinking while the m-value is related
to the ability of an HMA pavement to relieve these stresses. Thus, Superpave binder specifications require a maximum limit on
creep stiffness (thermal stress not too great) and a minimum limit on m-value (must have some minimum ability to relieve thermal
stresses without cracking).

The standard bending beam rheometer test is:

● AASHTO TP1: Method for Determining the Flexural Creep Stiffness of Asphalt Binder Using the Bending Beam
Rheometer

3.4.2.10 Direct Tension Tester (DTT) – Superpave

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The direct tension tester (DTT) (see Figure 3.37) is used in


the Superpave system to compliment the BBR in testing
asphalt binders at low temperatures. The DTT is used
because creep stiffness, S(t), as measured by the BBR is
not sufficient to predict thermal cracking in some asphalt
binders that exhibit high creep stiffness (> 300 MPa).
Recall that a high creep stiffness BBR test value implies
that the asphalt binder will possess high thermal stresses in
cold weather as a result of shrinkage. The assumption is
that the asphalt binder will crack because of these high
thermal stresses. However, some asphalt binders
(especially modified asphalt binders) may be able to stretch
far enough before breaking that they can absorb these high
thermal stresses without cracking. The DTT identifies
these asphalt binders. The DTT is only used for testing
asphalt binders with a high BBR creep stiffness (300 – 600
MPa); asphalt binders with BBR creep stiffness values
below 300 MPa are assumed satisfactory and the DTT is Figure 3.37: Direct Tension Tester Apparatus
not needed.

The DTT basically loads a small sample of asphalt binder in tension until it breaks (see Figure 3.38). The failure strain is then
calculated from the following equation:

where: εf = failure strain

∆L = change in length corresponding to the specimen’s maximum loading

Le = effective length

Figure 3.38: Direct Tension Tester Schematic

If a particular asphalt binder has a high BBR creep stiffness (indicating high thermal stress), it must have a minimum failure strain
(indicating it will stretch rather than crack) to meet Superpave binder specifications.

The standard direct tension tester procedure is:

● AASHTO TP 3: Method for Determining the Fracture Properties of Asphalt Binder in Direct Tension (DT)

3.4.3 Safety Tests


Asphalt cement like most other materials, volatilizes (gives off vapor) when heated. At extremely high temperatures (well above
those experienced in the manufacture and construction of HMA) asphalt cement can release enough vapor to increase the volatile
concentration immediately above the asphalt cement to a point where it will ignite (flash) when exposed to a spark or open flame.
This is called the flash point. For safety reasons, the flash point of asphalt cement is tested and controlled. The fire point, which
occurs after the flash point, is the temperature at which the material (not just the vapors) will sustain combustion.

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A typical flash point test involves heating a small sample of asphalt binder in a test cup. The temperature of the sample is
increased and at specified intervals a test flame is passed across the cup. The flash point is the lowest liquid temperature at which
application of the test flame causes the vapors of the sample to ignite. The test can be continued up to the fire point – the point at
which the test flame causes the sample to ignite and remain burning for at least 5 seconds.

Standard flash point tests are:

● AASHTO T 48 and ASTM D 92: Flash and Fire Points by Cleveland Open Cup (more common for asphalt cement used
in HMA)

● AASHTO T 73 and ASTM D 93: Flash-Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester

3.4.4 Purity
Asphalt cement, as used for HMA paving, should consist of almost pure bitumen. Impurities are not active cementing constituents
and may be detrimental to asphalt cement performance. Mineral impurities can be quantified by dissolving a sample of asphalt
cement in trichloroethylene or 1,1,1 trichloroethane through a filter mat. Anything remaining on the mat is considered an
impurity. Water impurities are quantified through distillation.

Standard purity tests are:

● AASHTO T 44 and ASTM D 2042: Solubility of Bituminous Materials

● AASHTO T 55 and ASTM D 95: Water in Petroleum Products and Bituminous Materials by Distillation

● AASHTO T 110 and ASTM D 1461: Moisture or Volatile Distillates in Bituminous Paving Mixtures

3.4.5 Specific Gravity Test


Because the specific gravity of asphalt binders change with temperature, specific gravity tests are useful in making volume
corrections based on temperature. The specific gravity at 15.6° C (60° F) is commonly used when buying/selling asphalt cements.
A typical specific gravity for asphalt is around 1.03.

The standard specific gravity test is:

● AASHTO T 228 and ASTM D 70: Specific Gravity and Density of Semi-Solid Bituminous Materials

3.4.6 Spot Test


The spot test is used to determine whether or not an asphalt cement has been damaged during processing due to overheating. This
damage, called "cracking", occurs because the actual molecules are thermally broken apart. Cracked asphalt cements tend to be
less ductile and more susceptible to aging effects. Since modern refining practices rarely cause cracking, the spot test is not often
specified.

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Basically, the spot test is a form of paper chromatography (a method for analyzing complex mixtures by separating them into the
chemicals from which they are made). A small drop of prepared asphalt cement is dropped onto a filter paper. If the spot formed
is uniformly brown then the test is negative. If the spot formed is brown with a black center then the test is positive. Today, the
spot test is rarely used.

The standard spot test is:

● AASHTO T 102: Spot Test of Asphaltic Materials

3.5 Grading Systems


Rather than refer to an extensive list of its physical properties, asphalt binders are typically categorized by one or more shorthand
grading systems. These systems range from simple (penetration grading) to complex (Superpave performance grading) and
represent an evolution in the ability to characterize asphalt binder. This subsection briefly describes the major grading systems
and discusses what they use to grade asphalt and how prevalent they are in the U.S. today.

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Specifications

WSDOT uses the Superpave asphalt binder performance grading system and specifications. Therefore, asphalt
binder must meet the requirements of AASHTO MP 1. WSDOT uses three baseline asphalt binder performance
grades based on geography. These baseline grades are typically used and then adjusted as necessary.

Previously, WSDOT had used the aged residue (AR) viscosity grading. The commonly used grade in this old
system was AR-4000W.

3.5.1 Penetration Grading


The penetration grading system was developed in the early 1900s to characterize the consistency of semi-solid asphalts.
Penetration grading quantifies the following asphalt concrete characteristics:

● Penetration depth of a 100 g needle 25° C (77° F)

● Flash point temperature

● Ductility at 25° C (77° F)

● Solubility in trichloroethylene

● Thin-film oven test (accounts for the effects of short-term aging)

❍ Retained penetration

❍ Ductility at 25° C (77° F)

Penetration grading’s basic assumption is that the less viscous the asphalt, the deeper the needle will penetrate. This penetration

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depth is empirically (albeit only roughly) correlated with asphalt binder performance. Therefore, asphalt binders with high
penetration numbers (called "soft") are used for cold climates while asphalt binders with low penetration numbers (called "hard")
are used for warm climates. Penetration grading key advantages and disadvantages are listed in Table 3.6.

Table 3.6: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Penetration Grading


(from Roberts et al., 1996)

Advantages Disadvantages

The test is empirical and does not measure any


The test is done at 25° C (77° F), which is reasonably close
fundamental engineering parameter such as viscosity.
to a typical pavement average temperature.

May also provide a better correlation with low-temperature Shear rate is variable and high during the test. Since
asphalt binder properties than the viscosity test, which is asphalt binders typically behave as a non-Newtonian fluid
performed at 60° C (140° F). at 25° C (77° F), this will affect test results.

Temperature susceptibility (the change in asphalt binder


Temperature susceptibility (the change in asphalt binder
rheology with temperature) can be determined by
rheology with temperature) cannot be determined by a
conducting the test at temperatures other than 25° C (77°
single test at 25° C (77° F).
F).

The test is quick and inexpensive. Therefore, it can easily The test does not provide information with which to
be used in the field. establish mixing and compaction temperatures.

Penetration grades are listed as a range of penetration units (one penetration unit = 0.1 mm) such as 120 – 150. Penetration grades
specified in AASHTO M 20 and ASTM D 946 are listed in Table 3.7.

Table 3.7: AASHTO M 20 and ASTM D 946 Penetration Grades

Penetration Grade Comments

40 – 50 Hardest grade.

60 - 70
Typical grades used in the U.S.
85 - 100

120 – 150

Softest grade. Used for cold climates such as northern Canada


200 – 300
(Roberts et al., 1996)

A few states still have provisions for the penetration grading system. These will most likely disappear as the Superpave PG
system becomes more prevalent.

3.5.2 Viscosity Grading

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In the early 1960s an improved asphalt grading system was developed that incorporated a rational scientific viscosity test. This
scientific test replaced the empirical penetration test as the key asphalt binder characterization. Viscosity grading quantifies the
following asphalt binder characteristics:

● Viscosity at 60° C (140° F)

● Viscosity at 135° C (275° F)

● Penetration depth of a 100 g needle applied for 5 seconds at 25° C (77° F)

● Flash point temperature

● Ductility at 25° C (77° F)

● Solubility in trichloroethylene

● Thin film oven test (accounts for the effects of short-term aging)
:

❍ Viscosity at 60° C (140° F)

❍ Ductility at 25° C (77° F)

Viscosity grading can be done on original (as-supplied) asphalt binder samples (called AC grading) or aged residue samples
(called AR grading). The AR viscosity test is based on the viscosity of aged residue from the rolling thin film oven test. With AC
grading, the asphalt binder is characterized by the properties it possesses before it undergoes the HMA manufacturing process.
The AR grading system is an attempt to simulate asphalt binder properties after it undergoes a typical HMA manufacturing process
and thus, it should be more representative of how asphalt binder behaves in HMA pavements. Table 3.8 lists key advantages and
disadvantages of the viscosity grading system.

Table 3.8: Advantages and Disadvantages of Viscosity Grading


(from Roberts et al., 1996)

Advantages Disadvantages

Unlike penetration depth, viscosity is a fundamental The principal grading (done at 25° C (77° F)) may not
engineering parameter. accurately reflect low-temperature asphalt binder rheology.

Test temperatures correlate well with:


When using the AC grading system, thin film oven test
● 25° C (77° F) – average pavement temp. residue viscosities can vary greatly with the same AC
● 60° C (140° F) – high pavement temp. grade. Therefore, although asphalt binders are of the same
AC grade they may behave differently after construction.
● 135° C (275° F) – HMA mixing temp.

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Temperature susceptibility (the change in asphalt binder


rheology with temperature) can be somewhat determined
The testing is more expensive and takes longer than the
because viscosity is measured at three different
penetration test.
temperatures (penetration only is measured at 25° C (77°
F)).

Testing equipment and standards are widely available.

Viscosity is measured in poise (cm-g-s = dyne-second/cm2, named after Jean Louis Marie Poiseuille). The lower the number of
poises, the lower the viscosity and thus the more easily a substance flows. Thus, AC-5 (viscosity is 500 ± 100 poise at 60° C (140°
F)) is less viscous than AC-40 (viscosity is 4000 ± 800 poise at 60° C (140° F)). Table 3.9 shows standard viscosity grades for the
AC and AR grading systems from AASHTO M 226 and ASTM D 3381. Typical grades used for HMA paving in the U.S. are AC-
10, AC-20, AC-30, AR-4000 and AR 8000.

Table 3.9: AASHTO M 226 and ASTM D 3381 Viscosity Grades

Standard Grading based on Original Asphalt (AC) Grading based on Aged Residue (AR)
AASHTO
AC-2.5 AC-5 AC-10 AC-20 AC-30 AC-40 AR-10 AR-20 AR-40 AR-80 AR-160
M 226
ASTM
AC-2.5 AC-5 AC-10 AC-20 AC-30 AC-40 AR-1000 AR-2000 AR-4000 AR-8000 AR-16000
D 3381

3.5.3 Superpave Performance Grade (PG)


Although in common use throughout the U.S., the previous grading systems are somewhat limited in their ability to fully
characterize asphalt binder for use in HMA pavement. Therefore, as part of the Superpave research effort new binder tests and
specifications were developed to more accurately and fully characterize asphalt binders for use in HMA pavements. These tests
and specifications are specifically designed to address HMA pavement performance parameters such as rutting, fatigue cracking
and thermal cracking.

Superpave performance grading (PG) is based on the idea that an HMA asphalt binder’s properties should be related to the
conditions under which it is used. For asphalt binders, this involves expected climatic conditions as well as aging considerations.
Therefore, the PG system uses a common battery of tests (as the older penetration and viscosity grading systems do) but specifies
that a particular asphalt binder must pass these tests at specific temperatures that are dependant upon the specific climatic
conditions in the area of use. Therefore, a binder used in the Sonoran Desert of California/Arizona/Mexico would have different
properties than one used in the Alaskan tundra. This concept is not new – selection of penetration or viscosity graded asphalt
binders follows the same logic – but the relationships between asphalt binder properties and conditions of use are more complete
and more precise with the Superpave PG system. Information on how to select a PG asphalt binder for a specific condition is
contained in Module 5, Section 5, Superpave Method. Table 3.10 shows how the Superpave PG system addresses specific
penetration, AC and AR grading system general limitations.

Table 3.10: Prior Limitations vs. Superpave Testing and Specification Features
(after Roberts et al., 1996)

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Limitations of Penetration, AC and AR Grading Superpave Binder Testing and Specification Features
Systems that Address Prior Limitations

Penetration and ductility tests are empirical and not The physical properties measured are directly related to
directly related to HMA pavement performance. field performance by engineering principles.

Test criteria remain constant, however, the temperature


Tests are conducted at one standard temperature without
at which the criteria must be met changes in
regard to the climate in which the asphalt binder will be
consideration of the binder grade selected for the
used.
prevalent climatic conditions.

The range of pavement temperatures at any one site is


not adequately covered. For example, there is no test The entire range of pavement temperatures experienced
method for asphalt binder stiffness at low temperatures at a particular site is covered.
to control thermal cracking.

Three critical binder ages are simulated and tested:


Test methods only consider short-term asphalt binder 1. Original asphalt binder prior to mixing
aging (thin film oven test) although long-term aging is a with aggregate.
significant factor in fatigue cracking and low 2. Aged asphalt binder after HMA
temperature cracking. production and construction.
3. Long-term aged binder.

Asphalt binders can have significantly different Grading is more precise and there is less overlap
characteristics within the same grading category. between grades.

Tests and specifications are intended for asphalt


Modified asphalt binders are not suited for these grading
"binders" to include both modified and unmodified
systems.
asphalt cements.

Superpave performance grading uses the following asphalt binder tests:

● Rolling thin film oven (RTFO)

● Pressure aging vessel (PAV)

● Rotational viscometer (RV)

● Dynamic shear rheometer (DSR)

● Bending beam rheometer (BBR)

● Direct tension tester (DTT)

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Superpave performance grading is reported using two numbers – the first being the average seven-day maximum pavement
temperature (°C) and the second being the minimum pavement design temperature likely to be experienced (°C). Thus, a PG 58-22
is intended for use where the average seven-day maximum pavement temperature is 58°C and the expected minimum pavement
temperature is -22°C. Notice that these numbers are pavement temperatures and not air temperatures (these pavement
temperatures are estimated from air temperatures using an algorithm contained in the LTPP Bind program). As a general rule-of-
thumb, PG binders that differ in the high and low temperature specification by 90°C or more generally require some
sort of modification (see Table 3.11).

Table 3.11: Prediction of PG Grades for Different Crude Oil Blends

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Specifications

WSDOT uses the Superpave asphalt binder performance grading system and specifications. Therefore, asphalt
binder must meet the requirements of AASHTO MP 1. WSDOT uses three baseline asphalt binder performance
grades based on geography. These baseline grades are typically used and then adjusted as necessary.

Previously, WSDOT had used the aged residue (AR) viscosity grading. The commonly used grade in this old
system was AR-4000W.

The standard method for PG asphalt binder grading is:

● AASHTO PP6: Practice for Grading or Verifying the Performance Grade of an Asphalt Binder

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3.6 Asphalt Binder Modifiers


Some asphalt cements require modification in order to meet specifications. Asphalt cement modification has been practiced for
over 50 years but has received added attention in the past decade or so. The added attention can be attributed to the following
factors (Roberts et al., 1996):

● Increased demand on HMA pavements. Traffic volume, loads and tire pressures have increased substantially in recent
years, which can cause increased rutting and cracking. Many modifiers can improve the asphalt binder's stiffness at
normal service temperatures to increase rut resistance, while decreasing its stiffness at low temperatures to improve its
resistance to thermal cracking.

● Superpave asphalt binder specifications. Superpave asphalt binder specifications developed in the 1990s require asphalt
binders to meet stiffness requirements at both high and low temperatures. In regions with extreme climatic conditions
this is not possible without asphalt binder modification.

● Environmental and economic issues. It is both environmentally and economically sound to recycle waste and industrial
byproducts (such as tires, roofing shingles, glass and ash) in order to gain added benefit. Thus, when they can benefit
the final product without creating an environmental liability they are often used as additives in HMA.

● Public agency willingness to fund higher-cost asphalt additives. Modified asphalt cement is usually higher in initial cost
than unmodified asphalt cement, but it should provide a longer service life with less maintenance.

There are numerous binder additives available on the market today. The benefits of modified asphalt cement can only be realized
by a judicious selection of the modifier(s); not all modifiers are appropriate for all applications. In general, asphalt cement should
be modified to achieve the following types of improvements (Roberts et al., 1996):

● Lower stiffness (or viscosity) at the high temperatures associated with construction. This facilitates pumping of the
liquid asphalt binder as well as mixing and compaction of HMA.

● Higher stiffness at high service temperatures. This will reduce rutting and shoving.

● Lower stiffness and faster relaxation properties at low service temperatures. This will reduce thermal cracking.

● Increased adhesion between the asphalt binder and the aggregate in the presence of moisture. This will reduce the
likelihood of stripping. Figure 3.39 shows two aggregate samples from the same source after they have been coated
with asphalt binder. The asphalt binder used with the sample on the left contain no anti-stripping modifier, which
resulted in almost no aggregate-asphalt binder adhesion. The asphalt binder used with the sample on the right contains
0.5% (by weight of asphalt binder) of an anti-stripping modifier, which results in good aggregate-asphalt binder
adhesion.

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Figure 3.39: Anti-stripping Modifier Example.

3.7 Other Forms of Asphalt Used in Paving


Although asphalt cement is probably the most well known type of asphalt, three other forms of asphalt that are used prominently in
the paving industry are emulsified asphalt, cutback asphalt, and foamed asphalt. These types of asphalt are not used in HMA
pavements but are used extensively in pavement repairs, supporting layer or subgrade stabilization, bituminous surface treatments
(BSTs), slurry seals, tack coats, fog seals, hot in-place recycling (HIPR), cold in-place recycling (CIR) and full depth recycling
(FDR).

3.7.1 Emulsified Asphalts


Emulsified asphalt is simply a suspension of small asphalt cement globules in water, which is assisted by an emulsifying agent
(such as soap). The emulsifying agent assists by imparting an electrical charge to the surface of the asphalt cement globules so
that they do not coalesce (Roberts et al., 1996). Emulsions are used because they effectively reduce asphalt viscosity for lower
temperature uses (tack coats, fog seals, slurry seals, bituminous surface treatments (BST), stabilization material). Emulsions are
typically either anionic (asphalt droplets are negatively charged) or cationic (asphalt particles are positively charged).

Generally, emulsions appear as a thick brown liquid when initially applied (see Figure 3.40). When the asphalt cement starts to
adhere to the surrounding material (aggregate, existing surface, subgrade, etc.) the color changes from brown to black (see Figure
3.41) and the emulsion is said to have "broken" (see Figure 3.42). As water begins to evaporate, the emulsion begins to behave
more and more like pure asphalt cement. Once all the water has evaporated, the emulsion is said to have "set". The time required
to break and set depends upon the type of emulsion, the application rate, the temperature of the surface onto which it is applied and
environmental conditions (TRB, 2000). Under most circumstances, an emulsion will set in about 1 to 2 hours (TRB, 2000).
ASTM D 3628 contains guidance on selection and use of emulsified asphalt.

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Figure 3.40 (upper left): Freshly Placed Emulsion Tack Coat.


The brown color indicates that it has not yet broken.

Figure 3.41 (upper right): The Same Tack Coat After 23


Minutes. The brown color now appears in splotches indicating
it is beginning to break.

Figure 3.42 (left): Tack Coat Using an Asphalt Emulsion. The


black color indicates it has broken.

3.7.2 Cutback Asphalts


A cutback asphalt is simply a combination of asphalt cement and petroleum solvent. Like emulsions, cutbacks are used because
they reduce asphalt viscosity for lower temperature uses (tack coats, fog seals, slurry seals, stabilization material). Similar to
emulsified asphalts, after a cutback asphalt is applied the petroleum solvent evaporates leaving behind asphalt cement residue on
the surface to which it was applied. A cutback asphalt is said to "cure" as the petroleum solvent evaporates away. The use of
cutback asphalts is decreasing because of (Roberts et al., 1996):

● Environmental regulations. Cutback asphalts contain volatile chemicals that evaporate into the atmosphere. Emulsified
asphalts evaporate water into the atmosphere.

● Loss of high energy products. The petroleum solvents used require higher amounts of energy to manufacture and are
expensive compared to the water and emulsifying agents used in emulsified asphalts.

In many places, cutback asphalt use is restricted to patching materials for use in cold weather.

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WSDOT Cutback Asphalt Use

WSDOT does not specify cutback asphalts because of their potential effect
on the environment.

3.7.3 Foamed (Expanded) Asphalt


Foamed asphalt is formed by combining hot asphalt binder with small amounts of cold water. When the cold water comes in
contact with the hot asphalt binder it turns to steam, which becomes trapped in tiny asphalt binder bubbles (World Highways,
2001). The result is a thin-film, high volume asphalt foam with approximately 10 times more coating potential than the asphalt
binder in its normal liquid state (World Highways, 2001). This high volume foam state only lasts for a few minutes, after which
the asphalt binder resumes its original properties. Foamed asphalt can be used as a binder in soil or base course stabilization, and
is often used as the stabilizing agent in full-depth asphalt reclamation.

3.8 Summary
Humans have used asphalt for thousands of years. In the HMA paving industry, asphalt functions as an adhesive that holds
aggregate together. Currently, HMA use exceeds 500,000,000 tonnes (tons) per year at a cost of almost $3 billion per year
(Anderson, Youtcheff and Zupanick, 2000). Although natural sources still exist, today’s asphalt is almost entirely produced from
petroleum refining. Asphalt cement can also be modified using certain chemical and organic products to alter its behavior.
Modern asphalt binder produced using the PG system is often modified.

Asphalt binders can be characterized by chemical and physical properties. Chemically, asphalt is a mixture of polar and non-polar
complex organic molecules. The microstructure of these molecules tends to govern asphalt’s physical behavior. Since chemical
knowledge and testing is limited, asphalt is most commonly described by its physical attributes. Over the years many tests have
been developed to fully characterize asphalt’s physical attributes. To date, these tests have reached an apogee with the Superpave
binder tests. Superpave tests measure specific asphalt binder physical properties that are directly related to field performance by
engineering principles. Thus, theoretically they offer the best and most complete asphalt binder characterization. They are also
the most complex and the most expensive.

Using the tests discussed in this section, asphalt binders are classified for use (graded) based on their physical properties as
measured through testing. The most common asphalt binder classifications are: penetration grade, viscosity grade and performance
grade (from Superpave). These asphalt grades are what is generally specified in HMA mix design.

Although this section has concentrated on asphalt binder characterizations and tests associated with HMA, asphalt binder is also
used in other road-related products: emulsions, cutbacks and foamed asphalt. These products are often used in an HMA
pavement's supporting layers as well as by themselves for low-volume roads.

Of all the HMA pavement constituents, we have the most control over the asphalt binder. Generally, roads will be built where
they can or need to be regardless of the subgrade, and aggregate is usually taken from the closest source as long as it meets
minimum standards. However, we generally specify asphalt binder characteristics for each and every HMA pavement. This is
reflected in the substantial level of effort put forth to accurately characterize asphalt binder.

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3.4 Materials - Portland Cement

4 Portland Cement
Portland cement is the chief ingredient in cement paste - the binding agent in Major Topics on this Page
portland cement concrete (PCC). It is a hydraulic cement that, when
combined with water, hardens into a solid mass. Interspersed in an 4.1 Background
aggregate matrix it forms PCC. As a material, portland cement has been
used for well over 175 years and, from an empirical perspective, its behavior 4.2 Manufacturing
is well-understood. Chemically, however, portland cement is a complex 4.3 Chemical Properties
substance whose mechanisms and interactions have yet to be fully defined.
ASTM C 125 and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) provide the 4.4 Types of Portland Cement
following precise definitions:
4.5 Physical Properties

hydraulic cement An inorganic material or a mixture of inorganic materials that 4.6 Summary
sets and develops strength by chemical reaction with water by
formation of hydrates and is capable of doing so under water.

portland cement A hydraulic cement composed primarily of hydraulic calcium


silicates.

4.1 Background
Although the use of cements (both hydraulic and non-hydraulic) goes back many
thousands of years (to ancient Egyptian times at least), the first occurrence of
"portland cement" came about in the 19th century. In 1824, Joseph Aspdin, a Leeds
mason took out a patent on a hydraulic cement that he coined "Portland" cement
(Mindess and Young, 1981). He named the cement because it produced a concrete
that resembled the color of the natural limestone quarried on the Isle of Portland, a
peninsula in the English Channel (see Figure 3.43 and 3.44). Since then, the name
"portland cement" has stuck and is written in all lower case because it is now
recognized as a trade name for a type of material and not a specific reference to
Portland, England.
Figure 3.43: Portland, England
Today, portland cement is the most widely used building material in the world with
about 1.56 billion tonnes (1.72 billion tons) produced each year. Annual global
production of portland cement concrete hovers around 3.8 million cubic meters (5
billion cubic yards) per year (Cement Association of Canada, 2001). In the U.S.,
rigid pavements are the largest single use of portland cement and portland cement
concrete (ACPA, 2002).

This section covers the following topics:

● Portland cement manufacturing

● The chemical constituents and properties of portland cement

● Types of portland cements

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3.4 Materials - Portland Cement

● The physical properties of portland cement

4.2 Manufacturing
Although there are several variations of commercially manufactured portland cement, they
each share many of the same basic raw materials and chemical components. The chief
chemical components of portland cement are calcium, silica, alumina and iron. Calcium is
derived from limestone, marl or chalk, while silica, alumina and iron come from the sands,
clays and iron ore sources. Other raw materials may include shale, shells and industrial
byproducts such as mill scale (Ash Grove Cement Company, 2000).

The basic manufacturing process heats these materials in a kiln to about 1400 to 1600°
C (2600 - 3000°F) - the temperature range in which the two materials interact
chemically to form calcium silicates (Mindess and Young, 1981). This heated
substance, called "clinker" is usually in the form of small gray-black pellets about
12.5 mm (0.5 inches) in diameter. Clinker is then cooled and pulverized into a fine
powder that almost completely passes through a 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve and Figure 3:44: Limestone at the
fortified with a small amount of gypsum. The result is portland cement. The Portland Portland Bill near Weymouth
Cement Association (PCA) has an excellent interactive illustration of this process on
their website.

4.3 Chemical Properties


Portland cements can be characterized by their chemical composition although they rarely are for pavement applications.
However, it is a portland cement's chemical properties that determine its physical properties and how it cures. Therefore, a
basic understanding of portland cement chemistry can help one understand how and why it behaves as it does. This section
briefly describes the basic chemical composition of a typical portland cement and how it hydrates.

4.3.1 Basic Composition


Table 3.12 and Figure 3.45 show the main chemical compound constituents of portland cement.

Table 3.12: Main Constituents in a Typical Portland Cement (Mindess and Young, 1981)

Chemical Name Chemical Formula Shorthand Notation Percent by Weight

Tricalcium Silicate 3CaO⋅SiO2 C3S 50

Dicalcium Silicate 2CaO⋅SiO2 C2S 25

Tricalcium Aluminate 3CaO⋅Al2O3 C3A 12

Tetracalcium Aluminoferrite 4CaO⋅Al2O3⋅Fe2O3 C4AF 8

Gypsum CaSO4⋅H2O CSH2 3.5

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Figure 3.45: Typical Oxide Composition of a General-Purpose Portland Cement


(Mindess and Young, 1981)

4.3.2 Hydration
When portland cement is mixed with water its chemical compound constituents undergo a series of chemical reactions that
cause it to harden (or set). These chemical reactions all involve the addition of water to the basic chemical compounds listed
in Table 3.12. This chemical reaction with water is called "hydration". Each one of these reactions occurs at a different time
and rate. Together, the results of these reactions determine how portland cement hardens and gains strength.

● Tricalcium silicate (C3S). Hydrates and hardens rapidly and is largely responsible for initial set and early strength.
Portland cements with higher percentages of C3S will exhibit higher early strength.

● Dicalcium silicate (C2S). Hydrates and hardens slowly and is largely responsible for strength increases beyond one
week.

● Tricalcium aluminate (C3A). Hydrates and hardens the quickest. Liberates a large amount of heat almost
immediately and contributes somewhat to early strength. Gypsum is added to portland cement to retard C3A
hydration. Without gypsum, C3A hydration would cause portland cement to set almost immediately after adding
water.

● Tetracalcium aluminoferrite (C4AF). Hydrates rapidly but contributes very little to strength. Its use allows lower
kiln temperatures in portland cement manufacturing. Most portland cement color effects are due to C4AF.

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Figure 3.46 shows rates of heat evolution, which give an approximate idea of hydration times and when a typical portland
cement initially sets.

Figure 3.46: Rate of Heat Evolution During Hydration of a Typical Portland Cement

The result of the two silicate hydrations is the formation of a calcium silicate hydrate (often written C-S-H because of is
variable stoichiometry). C-S-H makes up about 1/2 - 2/3 the volume of the hydrated paste (water + cement) and therefore
dominates its behavior (Mindess and Young, 1981).

4.4 Types of Portland Cement


Knowing the basic characteristics of portland cement's constituent chemical compounds, it is possible to modify its properties
by adjusting the amounts of each compound. In the U.S., AASHTO M 85 and ASTM C 150, Standard Specification for
Portland Cement, recognize eight basic types of portland cement concrete (see Table 3.13). There are also many other types of
blended and proprietary cements that are not mentioned here.

WSDOT Portland Cement Specifications

WSDOT specifies that portland cement shall conform to the requirements for Types I, II or III cement as listed
in AASHTO M 85. Type II cement shall additionally meet the requirements for setting time by the Vicat
method.

Table 3.13: ASTM Types of Portland Cement

Type Name Purpose

I Normal General-purpose cement suitable for most purposes.

IA Normal-Air Entraining An air-entraining modification of Type I.

Used as a precaution against moderate sulfate attack. It will usually generate less heat
II Moderate Sulfate Resistance
at a slower rate than Type I cement.

Moderate Sulfate Resistance-


IIA An air-entraining modification of Type II.
Air Entraining

Used when high early strength is needed. It is has more C3S than Type I cement and
III High Early Strength has been ground finer to provide a higher surface-to-volume ratio, both of which speed
hydration. Strength gain is double that of Type I cement in the first 24 hours.

High Early Strength-


IIIA An air-entraining modification of Type III.
Air Entraining

Used when hydration heat must be minimized in large volume applications such as
IV Low Heat of Hydration gravity dams. Contains about half the C3S and C3A and double the C2S of Type I
cement.

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Used as a precaution against severe sulfate action - principally where soils or


V High Sulfate Resistance groundwaters have a high sulfate content. It gains strength at a slower rate than Type I
cement. High sulfate resistance is attributable to low C3A content.

4.5 Physical Properties


Portland cements are commonly characterized by their physical properties for quality control purposes. Their physical
properties can be used to classify and compare portland cements. The challenge in physical property characterization is to
develop physical tests that can satisfactorily characterize key parameters. This section, taken largely from the PCA (1988),
describes the more common U.S. portland cement physical tests. Specification values, where given, are taken from ASTM C
150, Standard Specification for Portland Cement.

Keep in mind that these tests are, in general, performed on "neat" cement pastes - that is, they only include portland cement
and water. Neat cement pastes are typically difficult to handle and test and thus they introduce more variability into the
results. Cements may also perform differently when used in a "mortar" (cement + water + sand). Over time, mortar tests have
been found to provide a better indication of cement quality and thus, tests on neat cement pastes are typically used only for
research purposes (Mindess and Young, 1981). However, if the sand is not carefully specified in a mortar test, the results may
not be transferable.

4.5.1 Fineness
Fineness, or particle size of portland cement affects hydration rate and thus the rate of strength gain. The smaller the particle
size, the greater the surface area-to-volume ratio, and thus, the more area available for water-cement interaction per unit
volume. The effects of greater fineness on strength are generally seen during the first seven days (PCA, 1988).

Fineness can be measured by several methods:

● AASHTO T 98 and ASTM C 115: Fineness of Portland Cement by the Turbidimeter.

● AASHTO T 128 and ASTM C 184: Fineness of Hydraulic Cement by the 150-µm (No. 100) and 75-µm (No. 200)
Sieves

● AASHTO T 153 and ASTM C 204: Fineness of Hydraulic Cement by Air Permeability Apparatus

● AASHTO T 192 and ASTM C 430: Fineness of Hydraulic Cement by the 45-µm (No. 325) Sieve

4.5.2 Soundness
When referring to portland cement, "soundness" refers to the ability of a hardened cement paste to retain its volume after setting without
delayed destructive expansion (PCA, 1988). This destructive expansion is caused by excessive amounts of free lime (CaO) or magnesia
(MgO). Most portland cement specifications limit magnesia content and expansion. The typical expansion test places a small sample of
cement paste into an autoclave (a high pressure steam vessel). The autoclave is slowly brought to 2.03 MPa (295 psi) then kept at that
pressure for 3 hours. The autoclave is then slowly brought back to room temperature and atmospheric pressure. The change in specimen

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3.4 Materials - Portland Cement

length due to its time in the autoclave is measured and reported as a percentage. ASTM C 150, Standard Specification for Portland
Cement specifies a maximum autoclave expansion of 0.80 percent for all portland cement types.

The standard autoclave expansion test is:

● AASHTO T 107 and ASTM C 151: Autoclave Expansion of Portland Cement

4.5.3 Setting Time


Cement paste setting time is affected by a number of items including: cement fineness, water-cement ratio, chemical content
(especially gypsum content) and admixtures. Setting tests are used to characterize how a particular cement paste sets. For
construction purposes, the initial set must not be too soon and the final set must not be too late. Additionally, setting times can
give some indication of whether or not a cement is undergoing normal hydration (PCA, 1988). Normally, two setting times
are defined (Mindess and Young, 1981):

1. Initial set. Occurs when the paste begins to stiffen considerably.

2. Final set. Occurs when the cement has hardened to the point at which it can sustain some load.

These particular times are just arbitrary points used to characterize cement, they do not have any fundamental chemical
significance. Both common setting time tests, the Vicat needle and the Gillmore needle, define initial set and final set based
on the time at which a needle of particular size and weight either penetrates a cement paste sample to a given depth or fails to
penetrate a cement paste sample. The Vicat needle test is more common and tends to give shorter times than the Gillmore
needle test. Table 3.14 shows ASTM C 150 specified set times.

Table 3.14: ASTM C 150 Specified Set Times by Test Method

Test Method Set Type Time Specification


Initial ≥ 45 minutes
Vicat
Final ≤ 375 minutes
Initial ≥ 60 minutes
Gillmore
Final ≤ 600 minutes

The standard setting time tests are:

● AASHTO T 131 and ASTM C 191: Time of Setting of Hydraulic Cement by Vicat Needle

● AASHTO T 154: Time of Setting of Hydraulic Cement by Gillmore Needles

● ASTM C 266: Time of Setting of Hydraulic-Cement Paste by Gillmore Needles

4.5.4 Strength
Cement paste strength is typically defined in three ways: compressive, tensile and flexural. These strengths can be affected by

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3.4 Materials - Portland Cement

a number of items including: water-cement ratio, cement-fine aggregate ratio, type and grading of fine aggregate, manner of
mixing and molding specimens, curing conditions, size and shape of specimen, moisture content at time of test, loading
conditions and age (Mindess and Young, 1981). Since cement gains strength over time, the time at which a strength test is to
be conducted must be specified. Typically times are 1 day (for high early strength cement), 3 days, 7 days, 28 days and 90
days (for low heat of hydration cement). When considering cement paste strength tests, there are two items to consider:

● Cement mortar strength is not directly related to concrete strength. Cement paste strength is typically used as a
quality control measure.

● Strength tests are done on cement mortars (cement + water + sand) and not on cement pastes.

4.5.4.1 Compressive Strength

The most common strength test, compressive strength, is carried out on a 50 mm (2-inch) cement mortar test specimen. The
test specimen is subjected to a compressive load (usually from a hydraulic machine) until failure. This loading sequence must
take no less than 20 seconds and no more than 80 seconds. Table 3.15 shows ASTM C 150 compressive strength
specifications.

Table 3.15: ASTM C 150 Portland Cement Mortar Compressive Strength Specifications in MPa (psi)

Portland Cement Type


Curing Time
I IA II IIA III IIIA IV V
12.4 10.0
1 day - - - - - -
(1800) (1450)
12.4 10.0 10.3 8.3 24.1 19.3 8.3
3 days -
(1800) (1450) (1500) (1200) (3500) (2800) (1200)
19.3 15.5 17.2 13.8 6.9 15.2
7 days - --
(2800) (2250) (2500) (2000) (1000) (2200)
17.2 20.7
28 days - - - - - -
(2500) (3000)
Note: Type II and IIA requirements can be lowered if either an optional heat of hydration or chemical limit on the sum of C3S and C3A is
specified

The standard cement mortar compressive strength test is:

● AASHTO T 106 and ASTM C 109: Compressive Strength of Hydraulic Cement Mortars (Using 50-mm or 2-in.
Cube Specimens)

● ASTM C 349: Compressive Strength of Hydraulic Cement Mortars (Using Portions of Prisms Broken in Flexure)

4.5.4.2 Tensile Strength

Although still specified by ASTM, the direct tension test does not provide any useful insight into the concrete-making
properties of cements. It persists as a specified test because in the early years of cement manufacture, it used to be the most

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common test since it was difficult to find machines that could compress a cement sample to failure.

4.5.4.3 Flexural Strength

Flexural strength (actually a measure of tensile strength in bending) is carried out on a 40 x 40 x 160 mm (1.57-inch x 1.57-
inch x 6.30-inch) cement mortar beam. The beam is then loaded at its center point until failure.

The standard cement mortar flexural strength test is:

● ASTM C 348: Flexural Strength of Hydraulic Cement Mortars

4.5.5 Specific Gravity Test


Specific gravity is normally used in mixture proportioning calculations. The specific gravity of portland cement is generally
around 3.15 while the specific gravity of portland-blast-furnace-slag and portland-pozzolan cements may have specific
gravities near 2.90 (PCA, 1988).

The standard specific gravity test is:

● AASHTO T 133 and ASTM C 188: Density of Hydraulic Cement

4.5.6 Heat of Hydration


The heat of hydration is the heat generated when water and portland cement react. Heat of hydration is most influenced by the
proportion of C3S and C3A in the cement, but is also influenced by water-cement ratio, fineness and curing temperature. As
each one of these factors is increased, heat of hydration increases. In large mass concrete structures such as gravity dams,
hydration heat is produced significantly faster than it can be dissipated (especially in the center of large concrete masses),
which can create high temperatures in the center of these large concrete masses that, in turn, may cause undesirable stresses as
the concrete cools to ambient temperature. Conversely, the heat of hydration can help maintain favorable curing temperatures
during winter (PCA, 1988).

The standard heat of hydration test is:

● ASTM C 186: Heat of Hydration of Hydraulic Cement

4.5.7 Loss on Ignition

Loss on ignition is calculated by heating up a cement sample to 900 - 1000°C (1650 - 1830°F) until a constant weight is
obtained. The weight loss of the sample due to heating is then determined. A high loss on ignition can indicate prehydration
and carbonation, which may be caused by improper and prolonged storage or adulteration during transport or transfer (PCA,
1988).

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3.4 Materials - Portland Cement

The standard loss on ignition test is contained in:

● AASHTO T 105 and ASTM C 114: Chemical Analysis of Hydraulic Cement

4.6 Summary
Portland cement, the chief ingredient in cement paste, is the most widely used building material in the world. In the presence
of water, the chemical compounds within portland cement hydrate causing hardening and strength gain. Portland cement can
be specified based on its chemical composition and other various physical characteristics that affect its behavior. ASTM
specifies eight basic types of portland cement concrete. Tests to characterize portland cement, such as fineness, soundness,
setting time and strength are useful in quality control and specifications but should not be substituted for tests on PCC.

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4.1 Design Parameters - Introduction

1 Introduction
When designing pavements (both mix design and structural design), there are three fundamental external
design parameters to consider: the characteristics of the subgrade upon which the pavement is placed,
the applied loads and the environment. First, the subgrade upon which the pavement is placed will have
a large impact on structural design. Subgrade stiffness and drainage characteristics help determine
pavement layer thickness, the number of layers, seasonal load restrictions and any possible
improvements to subgrade stiffness and drainage itself. Second, the expected traffic loading is a primary
design input (both in mix design and structural design). Traffic loads are used to determine pavement
composition, layer type and thickness, all of which affect pavement life. Third, the environment has a
large impact on pavement material performance. Environmental factors such as temperature, moisture
and ice formation can affect pavement durability, binder rheology, structural support and ultimately
pavement life and failure.

This section provides an overview of subgrade characteristics, pavement loading concepts and
environmental factors.

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

2 Subgrade
Although a pavement's wearing course is most prominent, the success or Major Topics on this Page
failure of a pavement is more often than not dependent upon the underlying
subgrade (see Figures 4.1 and 4.2) - the material upon which the pavement 2.1 Subgrade Performance
structure is built. Subgrades be composed of a wide range of materials
although some are much better than others. This subsection discusses a few 2.2 Stiffness/Strength Tests
of the aspects of subgrade materials that make them either desirable or 2.3 Modulus of Subgrade Reaction
undesirable and the typical tests used to characterize subgrades.
2.4 Summary

Figure 4.1: Subgrade Preparation Figure 4.2: Subgrade Failure Crack

2.1 Subgrade Performance


A subgrade’s performance generally depends on three of its basic characteristics (all of which are interrelated):

1. Load bearing capacity. The subgrade must be able to support loads transmitted from the pavement structure. This
load bearing capacity is often affected by degree of compaction, moisture content, and soil type. A subgrade that
can support a high amount of loading without excessive deformation is considered good.

2. Moisture content. Moisture tends to affect a number of subgrade properties including load bearing capacity,
shrinkage and swelling. Moisture content can be influenced by a number of things such as drainage, groundwater
table elevation, infiltration, or pavement porosity (which can be assisted by cracks in the pavement). Generally,
excessively wet subgrades will deform excessively under load.

3. Shrinkage and/or swelling. Some soils shrink or swell depending upon their moisture content. Additionally, soils
with excessive fines content may be susceptible to frost heave in northern climates. Shrinkage, swelling and frost
heave will tend to deform and crack any pavement type constructed over them.

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

Poor subgrade should be avoided if possible, but when it is necessary to build over weak soils there are several methods
available to improve subgrade performance:

● Removal and replacement (over-excavation). Poor subgrade soil can simply be removed and replaced with high
quality fill. Although this is simple in concept, it can be expensive. Table 4.1 shows typical over-excavation
depths recommended by the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA).

Table 4.1: Over-Excavation Recommendations (from CAPA, 2000)

Depth of Over-Excavation Below Normal


Subgrade Plasticity Index
Subgrade Elevation
10 - 20 0.7 meters (2 ft.)
20 - 30 1.0 meter (3 ft.)
30 - 40 1.3 meters (4 ft.)
40 - 50 1.7 meters (5 ft.)
More than 50 2.0 meters (6 ft.)

● Stabilization with a cementitious or asphaltic binder. The addition of an appropriate binder (such as lime, portland
cement or emulsified asphalt) can increase subgrade stiffness and/or reduce swelling tendencies. Table 4.2
summarizes the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association recommendations.

Table 4.2: Some Stabilization Recommendations (from CAPA, 2000)

Stabilization Material Conditions Under which it is Recommended

Subgrades where expansion potential combined with


Lime
a lack of stability is a problem.

Subgrades which exhibit a plasticity index of 10 or


Portland Cement
less.

Subgrades are sandy and do not have an excessive


Asphalt Emulsion amount of material finer than the 0.075 mm (#200)
sieve.

● Additional base layers. Marginally poor subgrade soils may be compensated for by using additional base layers.
These layers (usually of crushed stone – either stabilized or unstabilized) serve to spread pavement loads over a
larger subgrade area. This option is rather perilous; when designing pavements for poor subgrades the temptation
may be to just design a thicker section with more base material because the thicker section will satisfy most design
equations. However, these equations are at least in part empirical and were usually not intended to be used in
extreme cases. In short, a thick pavement structure over a poor subgrade will not necessarily make a good
pavement.

In sum, subgrade characteristics and performance are influential in pavement structural design. Characteristics such as load

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

bearing capacity, moisture content and expansiveness will influence not only structural design but also long-term
performance and cost.

2.2 Stiffness/Strength Tests


Subgrade materials are typically characterized by their resistance to deformation under load, which can be either a measure of
their strength (the stress needed to break or rupture a material) or stiffness (the relationship between stress and strain in the
elastic range or how well a material is able to return to its original shape and size after being stressed). In general, the more
resistant to deformation a subgrade is, the more load it can support before reaching a critical deformation value. Three basic
subgrade stiffness/strength characterizations are commonly used in the U.S.: California Bearing Ratio (CBR), Resistance
Value (R-value) and elastic (resilient) modulus. Although there are other factors involved when evaluating subgrade
materials (such as swell in the case of certain clays), stiffness is the most common characterization and thus CBR, R-value
and resilient modulus are discussed here.

WSDOT Strength/Stiffness Tests

WSDOT uses a modified version of AASHTO T 292 (Resilient Modulus of Subgrade Soils and Untreated
Base/Subbase Materials) to characterize subgrade soil and untreated base/subbase material stiffness.
Therefore, WSDOT uses the resilient modulus rather than CBR or R-value for design purposes. WSDOT
uses R-value to characterize aggregate pit sources for material approval.

2.2.1 California Bearing Ratio (CBR)


The California Bearing Ratio (CBR) test is a simple strength test that compares the bearing capacity of a material with that of
a well-graded crushed stone (thus, a high quality crushed stone material should have a CBR ≅ 100%). It is primarily intended
for, but not limited to, evaluating the strength of cohesive materials having maximum particle sizes less than 19 mm (0.75 in.)
(AASHTO, 2000). It was developed by the California Division of Highways around 1930 and was subsequently adopted by
numerous states, counties, U.S. federal agencies and internationally. As a result, most agency and commercial geotechnical
laboratories in the U.S. are equipped to perform CBR tests.

The basic CBR test involves applying load to a small penetration piston at a rate of 1.3 mm (0.05") per minute and recording
the total load at penetrations ranging from 0.64 mm (0.025 in.) up to 7.62 mm (0.300 in.). Figure 4.3 is a sketch of a typical
CBR sample.

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

Figure 4.3: CBR Sample

Values obtained are inserted into the following equation to obtain a CBR value:

where: x = material resistance or the unit load on the piston (pressure)


for 2.54 mm (0.1") or 5.08 mm (0.2") of penetration

y = standard unit load (pressure) for well graded crushed stone

= for 2.54 mm (0.1") penetration = 6.9 MPa (1000 psi)

= for 5.08 mm (0.2") penetration = 10.3 MPa (1500 psi)

Table 4.3 shows some typical CBR ranges.

Table 4.3: Typical CBR Ranges

General Soil Type USC Soil Type CBR Range


GW 40 - 80
GP 30 - 60
GM 20 - 60
GC 20 - 40
Coarse-grained soils
SW 20 - 40
SP 10 - 40
SM 10 - 40
SC 5 - 20
ML 15 or less

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

CL LL < 50% 15 or less

Fine-grained soils OL 5 or less


MH 10 or less
CH LL > 50% 15 or less
OH 5 or less

Standard CBR test methods are:

● AASHTO T 193: The California Bearing Ratio

● ASTM D 1883: Bearing Ratio of Laboratory Compacted Soils

2.2.2 Resistance Value (R-value)


The Resistance Value (R-value) test is a material stiffness test. The test procedure expresses a material's resistance to
deformation as a function of the ratio of transmitted lateral pressure to applied vertical pressure. It is essentially a modified
triaxial compression test. Materials tested are assigned an R-value.

The R-value test was developed by F.N. Hveem and R.M. Carmany of the California Division of Highways and first reported
in the late 1940's. During this time rutting (or shoving) in the wheel tracks was a primary concern and the R-value test was
developed as an improvement on the CBR test. Presently, the R-value is used mostly by State Highway Agencies (SHAs) on
the west coast of the U.S.

The test procedure to determine R-value requires that the laboratory prepared samples are fabricated to a moisture and
density condition representative of the worst possible in situ condition of a compacted subgrade. The R-value is calculated
from the ratio of the applied vertical pressure to the developed lateral pressure and is essentially a measure of the material's
resistance to plastic flow. The testing apparatus used in the R-value test is called a stabilometer (identical to the one used in
Hveem HMA mix design) and is represented schematically in Figure 4.4.

Figure 4.4: R-Value Stabilometer

Values obtained from the stabilometer are inserted into the following equation to obtain an R-value:

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

where: R = resistance value

Pv = applied vertical pressure (160 psi)

Ph = transmitted horizontal pressure at Pv = 160 psi

D = displacement of stabilometer fluid necessary to increase horizontal pressure from 5 to


100 psi.

Some typical R-values are:

● Well-graded (dense gradation) crushed stone base course: 80+

● MH silts: 15-30

Standard R-Value test methods are:

● AASHTO T 190 and ASTM D 2844: Resistance R-Value and Expansion Pressure of Compacted Soils

WSDOT R-Value Test

WSDOT uses R-value to characterize aggregate pit sources for material approval. WSDOT Test Method 611 is very
similar to AASHTO T 190. However, WSDOT uses a 300 psi exudation pressure while AASHTO T 190 uses a 400
psi exudation pressure. WSDOT and AASHTO T 190 R-values may differ due to this exudation pressure difference.

2.2.3 Resilient Modulus


The Resilient Modulus (MR) is a subgrade material stiffness test. A material's resilient modulus is actually an estimate of
its modulus of elasticity (E). While the modulus of elasticity is stress divided by strain (e.g., the slope of the Figure 4.5 plot
within the linear elastic range) for a slowly applied load, resilient modulus is stress divided by strain for rapidly applied loads
– like those experienced by pavements. This subsection discusses:

● Elastic modulus and its relationship with resilient modulus

● Nomenclature and symbols

● Stress sensitivity of moduli

● Typical values

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● The triaxial resilient modulus test

● Elastic modulus correlations

. Although they measure the same stress-strain relationship, the load application rates are different, thus resilient modulus is
considered an estimate of elastic modulus.

2.2.3.1 Elastic Modulus

Elastic modulus is sometimes called Young's modulus after Thomas Young who published the concept back in 1807. An
elastic modulus (E) can be determined for any solid material and represents a constant ratio of stress and strain (a stiffness):

A material is elastic if it is able to return to its original shape or size immediately after being stretched or squeezed. Almost
all materials are elastic to some degree as long as the applied load does not cause it to deform permanently. Thus, the
"flexibility" of any object or structure depends on its elastic modulus and geometric shape.

The modulus of elasticity for a material is basically the slope of its stress-strain plot within the elastic range (as shown in
Figure 4.5). Figure 4.6 shows a stress versus strain curve for steel. The initial straight-line portion of the curve is the elastic
range for the steel. If the material is loaded to any value of stress in this part of the curve, it will return to its original shape.
Thus, the modulus of elasticity is the slope of this part of the curve and is equal to about 207,000 MPa (30,000,000 psi) for
steel. It is important to remember that a measure of a material's modulus of elasticity is not a measure of strength.
Strength is the stress needed to break or rupture a material (as illustrated in Figure 4.5), whereas elasticity is a measure of
how well a material returns to its original shape and size.

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

Figure 4.5: Stress-Strain Plot Showing the Elastic Range

Figure 4.6: Example Stress-Strain Plot for Steel

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

2.2.3.2 Nomenclature and Symbols

The nomenclature and symbols from the 1993 AASHTO Guide is generally used in referring to pavement moduli. For
example:

EAC = asphalt concrete elastic modulus

EBS = base course resilient modulus

ESB = subbase course resilient modulus

M (or E ) = roadbed soil (subgrade) resilient modulus (used interchangeably)


R SG

2.2.3.3 Stress Sensitivity of Moduli

Changes in stress can have a large impact on resilient modulus. "Typical" relationships are shown in Figures 4.7 and 4.8.

Figure 4.7: Resilient Modulus vs. Bulk Stress for Unstabilized Coarse Grained Materials

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

Figure 4.8: Resilient Modulus vs. Deviator Stress for Unstabilized Fine Grained Materials

2.2.3.4 Typical Values

Tables 4.4 shows typical values of modulus of elasticity for various materials.

Table 4.4: Typical Modulus of Elasticity Values for Various Materials

Elastic Modulus
Material
MPa psi

Diamond 1,200,000 170,000,000

Steel 200,000 30,000,000

Aluminum 70,000 10,000,000

Wood 7,000-14,000 1,000,000-2,000,000

Crushed Stone 150-300 20,000-40,000

Silty Soils 35-150 5,000-20,000

Clay Soils 35-100 5,000-15,000

Rubber 7 1,000

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Washington State Resilient Modulus Information

WSDOT uses resilient modulus to characterize base and subbase materials as well as the subgrade (CBR was
used up until 1951 after which R-Values were used).

A series of resilient modulus triaxial tests were conducted at the WSDOT Materials Laboratory in July 1988,
April 1989 and May 1989 on disturbed (i.e., not in situ) samples from 14 sites:

SR 410 MP 9.6 SR 20 MP 77.5


SR 411 MP 18.0 SR 20 MP 108.2
SR 5 MP 35.8 SR 20 MP 140.8
SR 500 MP 3.2 SR 195 MP 7.2
SR 14 MP 18.2 SR 195 MP 20.0
SR 11 MP 20.8 SR 195 MP 63.8
SR 20 MP 53.4 SR 90 MP 208.8

Test results showed:

Base Material

average MR = 194 MPa (28,100 psi)

standard deviation = 29.0 MPa (4,200 psi)

range = 137.2 MPa (19,900 psi) up to 240.6 MPa (34,900 psi)

Subgrade

133 MPa (19,300 psi) Includes some borrow material


average MR =
66 MPa (9,600 psi) Excludes all borrow material

59.0 MPa (8,600 psi) Includes some borrow material


standard deviation =
28.0 MPa (4,000 psi) Excludes all borrow material

range = 47.6 MPa (6,900 psi) up to 260.6 MPa (37,800 psi)

Keep in mind that this was not a comprehensive study of all Washington State granular materials but it does
give an idea of the range and typical values of base and subgrade stiffness in Washington State.

2.2.3.5 Triaxial Resilient Modulus Test

There are two fundamental approaches to estimating elastic moduli – laboratory tests and field deflection data/
backcalculation. This section discusses laboratory tests. Of the laboratory tests, two are noted:

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● Diametral resilient modulus. This test is typically used on HMA and is covered in Module 5, Section 6, HMA
Performance Tests.

● Triaxial resilient modulus. This test is typically used on unbound materials such as soil and aggregate and is
covered here.

In a triaxial resilient modulus test a repeated axial cyclic stress of fixed magnitude, load duration and cyclic duration is
applied to a cylindrical test specimen. While the specimen is subjected to this dynamic cyclic stress, it is also subjected to a
static confining stress provided by a triaxial pressure chamber. The total resilient (recoverable) axial deformation response of
the specimen is measured (see Figure 4.9) and used to calculate the resilient modulus using the following equation:

Figure 4.9: Triaxial Resilient Modulus Test Illustration


Note: this example is simplified and shows only 6 load repetitions, normally there are 1000 specimen conditioning
repetitions followed by several hundred load repetitions during the test at different deviator stresses and confining
pressures.

where: MR = resilient modulus (or elastic modulus since resilient modulus is just an estimate of
(or ER) elastic modulus)

σd = stress (applied load / sample cross sectional area)

εr = recoverable axial strain = ∆ L/L

L = gauge length over which the sample deformation is measured

∆L = change in sample length due to applied load

The standard triaxial resilient modulus test is:

● AASHTO T 292: Resilient Modulus of Subgrade Soils and Untreated Base/Subbase Materials

2.2.4 Strength/Stiffness Correlations


A widely used empirical relationship developed by Heukelom and Klomp (1962) and used in the 1993 AASHTO Guide is:

ESG (or MR) = (1500) (CBR)

This equation is restricted to fine grained materials with soaked CBR values of 10 or less. Like all such correlations, it

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

should be used with caution.

The proposed new AASHTO Design Guide will likely use the following relationship:

MR = 2555 x CBR0.64

The 1993 AASHTO Guide offers the following correlation equation between R-value and elastic modulus for fine-grained
soils with R-values less than or equal to 20.

ESG (or MR) = 1,000 + (555)(R-value)

Washington State Resilient Modulus vs. R-Value Correlation

A WSDOT developed relationship between the R-value and resilient modulus is shown below. This graph
was developed using WSDOT samples which ranged from silty materials (A-7) to coarse aggregate (A-1).
The samples were tested according to Washington Test Method 611 (Determination of the Resistance (R-
Value) of Untreated Bases, Subbases, and Basement Soils by the Stabilometer) and AASHTO T 274. Note
that WSDOT Test Method 611 “design R-Values” are determined at an exudation pressure of 400 psi.
AASHTO T 190 allows the use of a 300 psi exudation pressure. Thus, R-Values may differ due to the
exudation pressure.

2.3 Modulus of Subgrade Reaction (k)


The modulus of subgrade reaction (k) is used as a primary input for rigid pavement design. It estimates the support of the
layers below a rigid pavement surface course (the PCC slab). The k-value can be determined by field tests or by correlation

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

with other tests. There is no direct laboratory procedure for determining k-value.

The modulus of subgrade reaction came about because work done by Westergaard during the 1920s developed the k-value as
a spring constant to model the support beneath the slab (see Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10: Modulus of Subgrade Reaction (k)

The reactive pressure to resist a load is thus proportional to the spring deflection (which is a representation of slab deflection)
and k (see Figure 4.11):

where: P = reactive pressure to support deflected slab

k = spring constant = modulus of subgrade reaction

∆ = slab deflection

Figure 4.11: Relation of Load, Deflection and Modulus of Subgrade Reaction (k)

The value of k is in terms of MPa/m (pounds per square inch per inch of deflection, or pounds per cubic inch - pci) and
ranges from about 13.5 MPa/m (50 pci) for weak support, to over 270 MPa/m (1000 pci) for strong support. Typically, the
modulus of subgrade reaction is estimated from other strength/stiffness tests, however, in situ values can be measured using

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

the plate bearing test.

2.3.1 Plate Load Test


The plate load test (see Figure 4.12 and 4.13) presses a steel bearing plate into the surface to be
measured with a hydraulic jack. The resulting surface deflection is read from dial micrometers near the
plate edge and the modulus of subgrade reaction is determined by the following equation:

where: k = spring constant = modulus of subgrade reaction

P = applied pressure (load divided by the area of the 762 mm (30 inch) diameter plate)

∆ = measured deflection of the 762 mm (30 inch) diamter plate

Figure 4.12: Plate Load Test Schematic

Figure 4.13: Plate Load Test

The 1993 AASHTO Guide offers the following relationship between k-values from a plate bearing test and resilient modulus
(MR):

The standard plate bearing test is:

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4.2 Materials - Subgrade

● AASHTO T 222 and ASTM D 1196: Nonrepetitive Static Plate Load for Soils and Flexible Pavement
Components, for Use in Evaluation and Design of Airport and Highway Pavements

2.4 Summary
Subgrade properties are essential pavement design parameters. Materials typically encountered in subgrades are
characterized by their strength and their resistance to deformation under load (stiffness). In the U.S. the CBR, R-value and
resilient modulus are commonly used to characterize subgrade materials. Although each method is useful, the resilient
modulus is most consistent with other disciplines and is gaining widespread use in pavement design. The modulus of
subgrade reaction (k) is the subgrade characterization used in rigid pavement design. It can be estimated from CBR, R-value
or elastic modulus, or calculated from field tests like the plate bearing test.

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4.3 Design Parameters - Loads

3 Loads
One of the primary functions of a pavement is load distribution. Therefore, Major Topics on this Page
in order to adequately design a pavement something must be known about
the expected loads it will encounter. Loads, the vehicle forces exerted on 3.1 Tire Loads
the pavement (e.g., by trucks, heavy machinery, airplanes), can be
characterized by the following parameters: 3.2 Axle and Tire Configurations

3.3 Repetitions of Wheel Loads


● Tire loads
3.4 Traffic Distribution
● Axle and tire configurations
3.5 Vehicle Speed
● Repetition of loads
3.6 The ESAL Equations
● Distribution of traffic across the pavement
3.7 Load Spectra
● Vehicle speed
3.8 Summary

Loads, along with the environment, damage pavement over time. The simplest pavement structural model asserts that each
individual load inflicts a certain amount of unrecoverable damage. This damage is cumulative over the life of the pavement
and when it reaches some maximum value the pavement is considered to have reached the end of its useful service life.

Therefore, pavement structural design requires a quantification of all expected loads a pavement will encounter over its
design life. This quantification is usually done in one of two ways:

1. Equivalent single axle loads (ESALs). This approach converts wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions
("mixed traffic") to an equivalent number of "standard" or "equivalent" loads.

2. Load spectra. This approach characterizes loads directly by number of axles, configuration and weight. It does
not involve conversion to equivalent values. Structural design calculations using load spectra are generally more
complex than those using ESALs.

Both approaches use the same type and quality of data but the load spectra approach has the potential to be more accurate in
its load characterization.

3.1 Tire Loads


Tire loads are the fundamental loads at the actual tire-pavement contact points. For most pavement analyses, it is assumed
that the tire load is uniformly applied over a circular area. Also, it is generally assumed that tire inflation and contact
pressures are the same (this is not exactly true, but adequate for approximations). The following equation relates the radius
of tire contact to tire inflation pressure and the total tire load:

Where: a = radius of tire contact

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4.3 Design Parameters - Loads

P = total load on the tire

p = tire inflation pressure

States generally limit the allowable load per inch width of tire. Based on a slightly dated survey (Sharma, Hallin and
Mahoney, 1983), this tire load limitation varies from a high of 140 N/mm (800 lbs/inch) to a low of 79 N/mm (450 lbs/inch).

Figure 4.14: FHWA Class 9 Five-Axle Tractor – Semi trailer (18 Tires Total) A typical tire load is
18.9 kN (4,250 lbs) with an inflation pressure of
689 kPa (100 psi.)

3.2 Axle and Tire Configurations


While the tire contact pressure and area is of vital concern in pavement performance, the number of contact points per
vehicle and their spacing is also critical. As tire loads get closer together their influence areas on the pavement begin to
overlap, at which point the design characteristic of concern is no longer the single isolated tire load but rather the combined
effect of all the interacting tire loads. Therefore, axle and tire arrangements are quite important.

3.2.1 Descriptions
Tire-axle combinations are typically described as (see Figure 4.15):

● Single axle — single tire (truck steering axles, etc.)


● Single axle — dual tires

● Tandem axle — single tires (see Figure 4.16)


● Tandem axle — dual tires

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Single Axle with Single Tires Single Axle with Dual Tires

Tandem Axles with Single Tires Tandem Axles with Dual Tires

Figure 4.15: Tire-Axle Combinations (from Mahoney, 1984)

Figure 4.16:
Tandem
Drive Axle on
a Tractor
Frame During
Manufacturing

3.2.2 Typical Axle Load Limits

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Federal and State laws establish maximum axle and gross vehicle weights to limit pavement damage. The range of weight
limits in the U.S. vary a bit based on various Federal and State laws. Figure 4.17 shows the range of maximum limits for
single axle, tandem axle and gross vehicle weight (GVW) established by the states and the FHWA.

Washington State Tire and Axle Load Limits

Item Limit
105 N/mm (600 lb/inch)
Tire Load
of tire width
89 kN
Single Axle
(20,000 lbs)
151 kN
Tandem Axle
(34,000 lbs)
469 kN
Gross Vehicle Weight
(105,500 lbs)

Figure 4.17: Range of Allowable Axle and Truck Weights in the U.S.
(based on data from USDOT, 2000)

Although each state and the FHWA have established maximum axle-tire load combinations, there are other restrictions as
well. One of the most common is the FHWA bridge formula (sometimes called the Federal Bridge Formula B).

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3.3 Repetitions of Wheel Loads


Although it is not too difficult to determine the wheel and axle loads for an individual vehicle, it becomes quite complicated
to determine the number and types of wheel/axle loads that a particular pavement will be subject to over its entire design
life. Furthermore, it is not the wheel load but rather the damage to the pavement caused by the wheel load that is of primary
concern. There are currently two basic methods for characterizing wheel load repetitions:

1. Equivalent single axle load (ESAL). Based on AASHO Road Test results, the most common approach is to
convert wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions ("mixed traffic") to an equivalent number of "standard"
or "equivalent" loads. The most commonly used equivalent load in the U.S. is the 80 kN (18,000 lbs) equivalent
single axle load (normally designated ESAL).

2. Load spectra. The 2002 Guide for the Design of New and Rehabilitated Pavement Structures (NCHRP 1-37A)
essentially does away with the ESAL and determines loading directly from axle configurations and weights. This
is a more precise characterization of traffic but relies on the same input data used to calculate ESALs. A typical
load spectrum input would be in the form of a table that shows the relative axle weight frequencies for each
common axle combination (e.g. single axle, tandem axle, tridem axle, quad axle) over a given time period (see
Figure 4.18). Often, load spectra data can be obtained from weight-in-motion stations.

Figure 4.18: Example Load Spectra Input Screen from NCHRP 1-37A

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Typically, designers must not only calculate ESALs or load spectra for various vehicles but also must forecast the expected
number of ESALs or load spectra a pavement will encounter over its entire design life. This information then helps
determine the structural design. Highway design in most states is based on the ESAL traffic input anticipated over a future 10
to 50 year period.

3.4 Traffic Distribution


Along with load type and repetitions, the load distributions across a particular pavement must be estimated. For instance, on
a 6-lane interstate highway (3 lanes in each direction) the total number of loads is probably not distributed exactly equally in
both directions. Often one direction carries more loads than the other. Furthermore, within that one direction, not all lanes
carry the same loading. Typically, the outer most lane carries the most trucks and therefore is subjected to the heaviest
loading. Therefore, pavement structural design should account for these types of unequal load distribution. Typically, this is
accounted for by selecting a "design lane" for a particular pavement. The loads expected in the design lane are either (1)
directly counted or (2) calculated from the cumulative two-direction loads by applying factors for directional distribution and
lane distribution. The 1993 AASHTO Guide offers the following basic equation:

Where: w18 = traffic (or loads) in the design lane

D = a directional distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for the distribution of loads by direction (e.g.,
D
east-west, north-south). For instance, one direction may carry a majority of the heavy truck loads and thus it
would either be designed differently or, at a minimum, it would control the structural design. Generally taken as
0.5 (50%) for most roadways unless more detailed information is known.

a lane distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for the distribution of loads when two or more lanes
D = are available in one direction. For instance, on most interstate routes, the outside lane carries a majority of the
L
heavy truck traffic.

Number of Lanes in Each Direction Percent of Loads in Design Lane

1 100

2 80 – 100

3 60 – 80

4 50 – 75

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4.3 Design Parameters - Loads

^
= the cumulative two-directional loads predicted for a specific section of highway during the design period.
w18

3.5 Vehicle Speed


Although current design practices do not necessarily account for vehicle speed, it does influence pavement loading. In
general, slower speeds and stop conditions allow a particular load to be applied to a given pavement area for a longer period
of time resulting in greater damage. For HMA pavements this behavior is sometimes evident at bus stops (where heavy
buses stop and sit while loading/unloading passengers) and intersection approaches (where traffic stops and waits to pass
through the intersection) when mix design or structural design have been inadequate. In flexible pavement design,
Superpave accounts for vehicle speed indirectly by applying a design pavement temperature adjustment for slow-moving or
stopped vehicles.

3.6 The ESAL Equations


ESALs indicate the relative damage to a pavement structure due to various axle loads (e.g., the normal mixed traffic
condition). Recall that wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions ("mixed traffic") can be converted to an equivalent
number of "standard" loads. The most common standard load is the 80 kN (18,000 lbs) ESAL. The two standard U.S. ESAL
equations (one each for flexible and rigid pavements) are derived from the AASHO Road Test results. Both these equations
involve the same basic format, however the exponents are slightly different.

The equation outputs are load equivalency factors (LEFs) or ESAL factors. This factor relates various axle load
combinations to the standard 80 kN (18,000 lbs) single axle load. It should be noted that ESALs as calculated by the ESAL
equations are dependent upon the pavement type (flexible or rigid) and the pavement structure (structural number for flexible
and slab depth for rigid). As a rule-of-thumb, the 1993 AASHTO Design Guide, Part III, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5.2.3
recommends the use of a multiplier of 1.5 to convert flexible ESALs to rigid ESALs (or a multiplier of 0.67 to convert rigid
ESALs to flexible ESALs). Using load spectra (as proposed in the 2002 Guide for the Design of New and Rehabilitated
Pavement Structures) will eliminate the need for flexible-rigid ESAL conversions. Table 4.5 shows some typical LEFs for
various axle-load combinations.

Table 4.5: Some Typical Load Equivalency Factors

Load Equivalency Factor


Axle Type Axle Load
(from AASHTO, 1993)
(lbs)
(kN) (lbs) Flexible Rigid

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8.9 2,000 0.0003 0.0002


44.5 10,000 0.118 0.082
62.3 14,000 0.399 0.341
Single axle
80.0 18,000 1.000 1.000
89.0 20,000 1.4 1.57
133.4 30,000 7.9 8.28

8.9 2,000 0.0001 0.0001


44.5 10,000 0.011 0.013
62.3 14,000 0.042 0.048
80.0 18,000 0.109 0.133
Tandem axle 89.0 20,000 0.162 0.206
133.4 30,000 0.703 1.14
151.2 34,000 1.11 1.92
177.9 40,000 2.06 3.74
222.4 50,000 5.03 9.07

Assumptions:

● pt = 2.5

● Pavement structural number (SN) = 3.0 for flexible pavements

● Slab depth (D) = 9.0 inches for rigid pavements

3.6.1 Generalized Fourth Power Law


The AASHTO load equivalency equation is quite cumbersome and certainly not easy to remember. Therefore, as a rule-of-
thumb, the damage caused by a particular load is roughly related to the load by a power of four (for reasonably strong
pavement surfaces). For example, given a flexible pavement with SN = 3.0 and pt = 2.5:

1. A 18,000 lb (80 kN) single axle, LEF =1.0

2. A 30,000 lb (133 kN) single axle, LEF = 7.9

3. Comparing the two, the ratio is: 7.9/1.0 = 7.9

4. Using the fourth power rule-of-thumb:

Thus, the two estimates are approximately equal.

General Observations Based On Load Equivalency Factors

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1. The relationship between axle weight and inflicted pavement damage is not linear but exponential. For instance, a
44.4 kN (10,000 lbs) single axle needs to be applied to a pavement structure more than 12 times to inflict the
same damage caused by one repetition of an 80 kN (18,000 lbs) single axle. Similarly, a 97.8 kN (22,000 lbs)
single axle needs to be repeated less than half the number of times of an 80 kN (18,000 lbs) single axle to have an
equivalent effect.

❍ An 80 kN (18,000 lbs) single axle does over 3,000 times more damage to a pavement than an 8.9 kN
(2,000 lbs) single axle (1.000/0.0003 ≈ 3,333).

❍ A 133.3 kN (30,000 lbs) single axle does about 67 times more damage than a 44.4 kN (10,000 lbs)
single axle (7.9/0.118 ≈ 67).

❍ A 133.3 kN (30,000 lb) single axle does about 11 times more damage than a 133.3 kN (30,000 lb)
tandem axle (7.9/0.703 ≈ 11).

❍ Heavy trucks and buses are responsible for a majority of pavement damage. Considering that a typical
automobile weighs between 2,000 and 7,000 lbs (curb weight), even a fully loaded large passenger van
will only generate about 0.003 ESALs while a fully loaded tractor-semi trailer can generate up to about
3 ESALs (depending upon pavement type, structure and terminal serviceability).

2. Determining the LEF for each axle load combination on a particular roadway is possible through the use of weigh-
in-motion equipment. However, typically this type of detailed information is not available for design. Therefore,
many agencies average their LEFs over the whole state or over different regions within the state. They then use a
standard "truck factor" for design which is simply the average number of ESALs per truck. Thus, an ESAL
determination would involved counting the number of trucks and multiplying by the truck factor.

❍ This method allows for ESAL estimations without detailed traffic measurements, which is often
appropriate for low volume roads and frequently must be used for lack of a better alternative for high
volume roads.

❍ When using this method, there is no guarantee that the assumed truck factor is an accurate representation
of the trucks encountered on the particular roadway in question.

3.6.2 Estimating ESALs


A basic element in pavement design is estimating the ESALs a specific pavement will encounter over its design life. This
helps determine the pavement structural design (as well as the HMA mix design in the case of Superpave). This is done by

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forecasting the traffic the pavement will be subjected to over its design life then converting the traffic to a specific number of
ESALs based on its makeup. A typical ESAL estimate consists of:

1. Traffic count. A traffic count is used as a starting point for ESAL estimation. Most urban areas have some
amount of historical traffic count records. If not, simple traffic tube counts are relatively inexpensive and quick. In
some cases, designers may have to use extremely approximate estimates if no count data can be obtained.

2. A count or estimate of the number of heavy vehicles. This usually requires some sort of vehicle classification
within the traffic count. The simplest classifications divide vehicles into two categories: (1) heavy trucks and (2)
others. Other, more elaborate schemes can also be used such as the FHWA's vehicle classification.

WSDOT Vehicle Counting and ESAL Assumptions

WSDOT uses several different estimates for typical ESAL values.

First, the WSDOT Pavement Management System (PMS) uses a simplified version of the FHWA vehicle classification system. Like
many other states WSDOT uses three categories and assumes the following ESAL values:

WSDOT Category FHWA Classes WSDOT Assumed ESALs per Truck

Single Units 4, 5, 6, 7 0.40

Double Units 8, 9, 10 1.00

Trains 11, 12, 13 1.75

The WSDOT PMS equation for annual ESALs on any given roadway is:

Annual ESALs = 365[0.40(single units) + 1.00(double units) + 1.75(trains)]

This equation implies that passenger automobile contributions to total ESAL counts are negligible.

Second, data collected between 1960 and 1983 provides a rough estimate of ESALs divided up into single units, combination units, buses
and an overall truck factor.

Typical Flexible Pavement ESAL Factors Based on Measurement

ESAL Factors

Highway System Single Combination Individual Overall Trucks


Buses
Units Units Axle (Excludes Buses)

Interstate 0.30 1.20 1.60 0.25 1.10

Non-Interstate Rural 0.50 1.40 1.60 0.25 1.40

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Non-Interstate Urban 0.25 1.20 1.60 0.25 1.00

● All panel trucks and pickups were excluded from the calculations if they had two axles with four tires (i.e., two axle, six tire trucks or larger were
used).

● The ESAL calculations are for flexible pavements (LEFs from Appendix D, 1993 AASHTO Guide, SN = 5, pt = 2.5) only.

● Results are based on weight data from a limited number of weigh stations (typically 5 to 15) which operated for a maximum period of 24 hours for
no more than five days per year. Thus, the samples and hence the summary may be biased (either high or low).

● The above ESAL factors may appear to be "low"; however, about one-half of the trucks weighed at weigh stations were empty. Thus, an ESAL/
axle factor = 0.25 corresponds to a single axle load of about 12,700 lb (56.5 kN) (assumes SN = 5, pt = 2.5).

Third, initial WSDOT weigh-in-motion (WIM) analysis reveals the following ESALs per vehicle:

WSDOT Category WIM ESALs/vehicle

Single Units 0.37

Double Units 1.02

Trains 1.22

Note that these assumptions agree rather well with WSDOT PMS assumptions for all vehicles except "trains". For the 10 initial WSDOT
WIM sites analyzed, the ESAL per vehicle for trains ranged from a low of 0.43 to a high of 1.79.

3. An estimated traffic (and heavy vehicle) growth rate over the design life of the pavement. A growth rate estimate
is required to convert a single year traffic count into the total traffic experienced over the pavement design life.
Typically, multiplying the original traffic count by the pavement design life (in years) will grossly underestimate
total ESALs. For example, Interstate 5 at mile post 176.35 (near Shoreline, Washington) has experienced a growth
from about 200,000 ESALs per year in 1965 (original construction) to about 1,000,000 ESALs per year in 1994.
Thus, over a 30 year period, the ESALs per year have increased by a factor of five or an annual growth rate of
about six percent.

WSDOT Traffic Growth Rate Assumptions

The WSDOT Pavement Management System (PMS) calculates ESAL growth rate using the following equation:

Where: G = traffic growth rate. If the truck growth rate is greater than zero then G is assumed to be
equal to the truck growth rate. Otherwise, G is assumed to be equal to the ADT growth
rate. A minimum G of 2 percent is assumed.

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0.016 = an additional growth rate assumed to account for the increase in per-tire load. The ESAL
accounts for the loading on each axle, while this additional factor is an attempt to account
for how that load is actually transmitted to the pavement through the tires. For instance,
an 18,000 lb. axle load supported by four tires at 80 psi each is less damaging than the
same 18,000 lb. load supported by two tires at 125 psi each.

Whereas traffic growth rate is important for capacity issues, ESAL growth rate is the critical growth factor in pavement
structural design.

The Total number of ESALs over a number of years is calculated by using the Annual ESAL estimate (at the time of the
traffic count) and compounding it annually over the total number of years using the "total ESAL growth rate" determined
from the equation above.

4. Select appropriate LEFs to convert truck traffic to ESALs. Different regions may experience different types of
loads. For instance, a particular area may experience a high number of trucks but they may be mostly empty thus
lowering their LEF. For instance, the statewide LEF for Washington State is about 1.028 ESALs/truck. However,
this may be drastically different from local LEFs.

5. An ESAL estimate. An ESAL estimate can be made based on the preceding steps. Depending upon circumstances
these estimates may vary widely. Figure 4.19 shows an example of a pavement that was built for an estimated
ESAL loading but is experiencing a much higher loading due to a marked increase in bus traffic.

WSDOT ESAL Calculator

The ESAL calculator presented below uses standard 2002 Washington State Pavement Management System
(WSPMS) assumptions about load equivalencies and growth rates. These standards may not apply in all situations.

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Figure 4.19: Resulting Damage from a Marked Increase in ESALs

3.7 Load Spectra


The 2002 Guide for the Design of New and Rehabilitated Pavement Structures (NCHRP 1-37A) has gone away from the
ESAL approach and adopted a load spectra approach. In essence, the load spectra approach uses the same traffic data that
the ESAL approach uses only it does not convert the loads into ESALs – it maintains the data by axle configuration and
weight. This information can then be used with a series of mechanistic-empirical equations to develop a pavement structural
design. Some key advantages of the load spectra approach are:

1. It is compatible with the FHWA's Traffic Monitoring Guide (TMG) and thus many agencies are already
collecting the appropriate data.

2. It offers a hierarchical approach to traffic data input depending upon the users needs and resources. There are
three levels of potential input:

• Level 1 Inputs – Use of volume/classification and axle load spectra data directly related to the project.

• Level 2 Inputs – Use of regional axle load spectra data and project-related volume/classification data.

• Level 3 Inputs – Use of regional or default classification and axle load spectra data.

3. It already includes information on traffic distribution including directional, lane and temporal distribution (if
needed) as well as traffic growth rates.

3.8 Summary
Loading is a fundamental pavement design parameter. In order to fully characterize a load, the following parameters should
be known:

● Tire loads

● Axle and tire configurations

● Repetition of loads

● Distribution of traffic across the pavement

● Vehicle speed

Pavement damage caused by a particular load is roughly related to the load by about a power of four (for reasonably strong
surfaces). This means that, generally speaking, a vehicle weighing twice as much as another (and having the same axle/tire
arrangement) will cause 16 times as much damage to the pavement.

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Given the number and types of vehicles in the world today, there are many different types of loads and load configurations.
The most common load characterization approach is to convert all loads into an equivalent number of 80 kN (18,000 lbs)
axle loads (ESALs). ESALs can then be used in pavement structural design. The 2002 Guide for the Design of New and
Rehabilitated Pavement Structures dispenses with ESAL calculations and deals directly with traffic load spectra, however
the general load vs. damage concepts are the same. Loads work in conjunction with materials, subgrade and the environment
to determine pavement design inputs.

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

4 Environment
A pavement must be able to function within the Major Topics on this Page
environment in which it is built. The environment can
vary greatly across the globe at any one time and it can 4.1 Temperature Variations
also vary greatly across time at any one place.
Environmental variations can have a significant impact 4.2 Frost Action
on pavement materials and the underlying subgrade, 4.3 Moisture
which in turn can drastically affect pavement
performance. Certainly every environmental constituent 4.4 Summary
(e.g., solar flux, heat, wind, humidity, etc.) can have an
incremental effect on pavement. However, there are several constituents that exert an overriding
influence. These variables (considered in this section) are:

● Temperature Variations

● Frost action

● Moisture

4.1 Temperature Variations


Extreme temperature variations can causes severe pavement damage due to expansion, contraction and (in
the case of rigid pavements) slab curling. Additionally, asphalt binder rheology varies with temperature.
Therefore, estimated temperature extremes and their effects are a primary consideration. For flexible
pavements, older asphalt binder grading systems did not directly account for temperature effects and thus
various empirical systems and thumb-rules were developed. The Superpave PG binder grading system
corrects this deficiency by grading asphalt binder based on its performance in relation to temperature.

4.1.1 Expansion and Contraction


Pavements, like all other materials, will expand as they rise in temperature and contract as they fall in
temperature. Small amounts of expansion and contraction are typically accommodated without excessive
damage, however extreme temperature variations can lead to catastrophic failures. Flexible and rigid
pavements can suffer large transverse cracks as a result of excessive contraction in cold weather. Rigid
pavements are also prone to slab buckling as a result of excessive expansion in hot weather (see Figures
4.20 and 4.21).

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Figure 4.20: Rigid Pavement Blowup Figure 4.21: Flexible Pavement


Thermal Crack

4.1.2 Slab Curling (Rigid Pavements)


Differences in temperature between the top and bottom surfaces of a PCC slab will cause the slab to curl.
The weight of the slab and its contact with the subbase restrict its movement — thus, stresses are created.

In 1935, measurements reported by Teller and Southerland of the Bureau of Public Roads showed that the
maximum temperature differential (hence, maximum warping) is much larger during the day than during
the night. Further, during the day, the upper surface of the slab is at a higher temperature than the bottom
resulting in tensile stresses at the bottom of the slab.

4.2 Frost Action


Frost action can be quite detrimental to pavements and refers to two separate but related processes:

1. Frost heave. An upward movement of the subgrade resulting from the expansion of accumulated
soil moisture as it freezes.

2. Thaw weakening. A weakened subgrade condition resulting from soil saturation as ice within

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

the soil melts.

Washington State Frost Action Information

A series of questions were posed to Washington State, City, County, and WSDOT Regions
concerning pavement frost design issues. These results were compiled by the Washington
State Policy Plan Subcommittee on Weight Restrictions and Road Closures. One of the
questions asked was: "What do you feel are the most important factors in causing road
deterioration in your jurisdiction?" Of a wide range of possible responses, three of the top-
ranked factors (frost heaving, road use during freeze/thaw, excess subgrade moisture (which
may not be frost related)) constituted the following percentages of all responses:

● Counties: 46%

● Cities: 48%

● State: 30%

Thus, frost-related factors are considered to be very important in contributing to road


deterioration in Washington State. Of those agencies which noted spring thaw conditions,
typically 30 percent of their route system experiences seasonal structural weakening. Another
frost-related question relates to how frost effects are considered in the design of new
pavements. Of the six counties which responded (Chelan, Columbia, Lincoln, Skamania,
Walla Walla, and Whatcom), all stated that extra base course thickness was used. Of the
cities which state that frost design is a consideration, they generally use an extra thickness of
base course as well.

Source: WSDOT. (April 15, 1994). "Questionnaire Results with Comments," Washington
State Policy Plan Subcommittee on Weight Restrictions and Road Closures. Washington
State Department of Transportation. Olympia, WA.

4.2.1 Frost Heave


Frost heaving of soil is caused by crystallization of ice within the larger soil voids and usually a subsequent

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extension to form continuous ice lenses, layers,


veins, or other ice masses. An ice lens grows
through capillary rise and thickens in the
direction of heat transfer until the water supply
is depleted or until freezing conditions at the
freezing interface no longer support further
crystallization. As the ice lens grows, the
overlying soil and pavement will “heave” up
potentially resulting in a cracked, rough
pavement (see Figure 4.22). This problem
occurs primarily in soils containing fine particles
(often termed “frost susceptible” soils), while
clean sands and gravels (small amounts of fine
Figure 4.22: Frost Heave on a City Street in Central
particles) are non-frost susceptible (NFS). Thus,
the degree of frost susceptibility is mainly a Sweden
function of the percentage of fine particles
within the soil. Many agencies classify materials as being frost susceptible if 10 percent or more passed a
0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve or 3 percent or more passed a 0.02 mm (No. 635) sieve. Figure 4.23 illustrates
the formation of ice lenses in a frost susceptible soil.

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Figure 4.23: Formation of Ice Lenses in a Pavement Structure

The three elements necessary for ice lenses and thus frost heave are:

1. Frost susceptible soil (significant amount of fines).

2. Subfreezing temperatures (freezing temperatures must penetrate the soil and, in general, the
thickness of an ice lens will be thicker with slower rates of freezing).

3. Water (must be available from the groundwater table, infiltration, an aquifer, or held within the
voids of fine-grained soil).

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Remove any of the three conditions above and frost effects will be eliminated or at least minimized. If the
three conditions occur uniformly, heaving will be uniform; otherwise, differential heaving will occur
resulting in pavement cracking and roughness. Differential heave is more likely to occur at locations such
as:

● Where subgrades change from clean not frost susceptible (NFS) sands to silty frost susceptible
materials.

● Abrupt transitions from cut to fill with groundwater close to the surface.

● Where excavation exposes water-bearing strata.

● Drains, culverts, etc., frequently result in abrupt differential heaving due to different backfill
material or compaction and the fact that open buried pipes change the thermal conditions (i.e.,
remove heat resulting in more frozen soil).

Additional factors which will affect the degree of frost susceptibility (or ability of a soil to heave):

● Rate of heat removal.

● Temperature gradient

● Mobility of water (e.g., permeability of soil)

● Depth of water table

● Soil type and condition (e.g., density, texture, structure, etc.)

The Casagrande Criterion

In 1932, Dr. Arthur Casagrande proposed the following widely known rule-of-thumb criterion for
identifying potentially frost susceptible soils:

"Under natural freezing conditions and with sufficient water supply one should expect considerable
ice segregation in non-uniform soils containing more than 3% of grains smaller than 0.02 mm, and in
very uniform soils containing more than 10 percent smaller than 0.02 mm. No ice segregation was
observed in soils containing less than 1 percent of grains smaller than 0.02 mm, even if the
groundwater level is as high as the frost line."

Application of the Casagrande criterion requires a hydrometer test of a soil suspension (in water) to
determine the distribution of particles passing the 0.075 mm sieve and to compute the percentage of
particles finer than 0.02 mm.

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

WSDOT Frost Resistant Crushed Aggregate

WSDOT uses crushed surfacing base course (CSBC) as a frost resistant crushed aggregate because it has a maximum
of only 7.5% passing the 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve.

4.2.2 Thaw Weakening


Thawing is essentially the melting of ice contained within the subgrade. As the ice melts and turns to
liquid it cannot drain out of the soil fast enough and thus the subgrade becomes substantially weaker (less
stiff) and tends to lose bearing capacity. Therefore, loading that would not normally damage a given
pavement may be quite detrimental during thaw periods (e.g., spring thaw). Figure 4.24 is an example of
typical pavement deflection changes throughout the year caused by winter freezing and spring thawing.
Figure 4.25 shows pavement damage as a result of thaw weakening.

Figure 4.24: Typical Pavement Deflections Illustrating Seasonal Pavement Strength Changes
(on a portion of State Route 172 in Washington State)

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

Figure 4.25: Freeze-Thaw Damage

Thawing can proceed from the top downward, or from the bottom upward, or both. How this occurs
depends mainly on the pavement surface temperature. During a sudden spring thaw, melting will proceed
almost entirely from the surface downward. This type of thawing leads to extremely poor drainage
conditions. The frozen soil beneath the thawed layer can trap the water released by the melting ice lenses
so that lateral and surface drainage are the only paths the water can take.

Tabor (1930) also noted an added effect:

"The effects of refreezing after a thaw are also accentuated by the fact that the first freeze leaves the
soil in a more or less loosened or expanded condition."

This observation shows that (1) the reduced density of base or subgrade materials helps to explain the long
recovery period for material stiffness or strength following thawing, and (2) refreezing following an initial
thaw can create the potential for greater weakening when the "final" thaw does occur.

4.2.3 Sources of Water


The two basic forms of frost action (frost heave and thawing) both require water. Water sources can be
separated into two broad categories:

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

1. Surface water. Enters the pavement primarily by infiltration through surface cracks and joints,
and through adjacent unpaved surfaces, during periods of rain and melting snow and ice. Many
crack-free pavements are not entirely impermeable to moisture.

2. Subsurface water. Can come from three primary sources:

• Groundwater table (or perched water table).

• Moisture held in soil voids or drawn upward from a water table by capillary forces.

• Moisture that moves laterally beneath a pavement from an external source (e.g., pervious
water bearing strata, etc.).

4.2.4 Estimation of Freezing or Thawing Depths in


Pavements
This section discusses freeze depth estimation techniques. Such an estimate is helpful in designing for frost
conditions, but oversimplifies the complex conditions that accompany various pavement materials, depths
of freeze, and water sources. Basic terminology is contained on a separate page. All units will be in U.S.
customary due to the source material. Two formulas are presented on linked pages:

● The Stefan formula

● The modified Berggren formula.

Washington State Freezing Index and Depth Maps

Freezing Index Maps Frost Depth Maps 1949/1950 Frost Depth


Map

4.2.5 Mitigating Frost Action


Mitigating of frost action and its detrimental effects generally involves structural design considerations as
well as other techniques applied to the base and subgrade to limit the effects of frost action. The basic
methods used can be broadly categorized into the following techniques:

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

● Limit the depth of frost into the subgrade soils. This is typically accomplished by specifying the
depth of pavement to be some minimum percentage of the frost depth. By extending the
pavement section well into the frost depth, the depth of frost-susceptible subgrade under the
pavement (between the bottom of the pavement structure and frost depth) is reduced. The
assumption is that a reduced depth of soil under frost action will cause correspondingly less
damage.

● Removing and replacing frost-susceptible subgrade. Ideally the subgrade will be removed at
least down to the typical frost depth. Removing frost-susceptible soils removes frost action.

● Design the pavement structure based on reduced subgrade support. This method simply
increases the pavement thickness to account for the damage and loss of support caused by frost
action.

● Providing a capillary break. By breaking the capillary flow path, frost action will be less severe
because as Tabor (1930) noted, frost heaving requires substantially more water than is naturally
available in the soil pores.

4.2.6 Freezing and Thawing Implications for Maintenance


Operations
The calculated freezing index (FI) and thawing index (TI) can be used to estimate the depth of freeze at a
specific site and the resulting thaw. Maintenance personnel can use the TI to assess the need for seasonal
load limits (see Figure 4.26). The following general guidelines relative to spring highway load restrictions
were developed and evaluated by a study in Washington State (Rutherford et al., 1985; Mahoney et al.,
1986):

● Where to apply load restrictions. If pavement surface deflections are available to an agency,
spring thaw deflections greater than 45 to 50 percent of summer deflections suggest a need for
load restriction. Further, considerations such as depth of freezing (generally areas with air
Freezing Indices of 400 °F-days or more), pavement surface thickness, moisture condition, type
of subgrade, and local experience should be considered. Subgrades with Unified Soil
Classifications of ML, MH, CL, and CH will result in the largest pavement weakening.

● Amount of load reduction. The minimum load reduction level should be 20 percent. Load
reductions greater than 60 percent generally are not warranted based on potential pavement
damage. A load reduction range of 40 to 50 percent should accommodate a wide range of

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

pavement conditions.

● When to apply load restrictions. Load restrictions


"should" be applied after accumulating a Thawing Index
(TI) of about 25 °F-days (based on an air temperature
datum of 29 °F) and "must" be applied at a TI of about
50 °F-days (again based on an air temperature datum of
29 °F). Corresponding TI levels are less for thin
pavements (e.g., two inches of HMA and six inches of
aggregate base or less) in that the "should apply" TI
level is 10 °F-days and the "must" TI level is 40 °F-days.

● When to remove load restrictions. Two approaches are


recommended, both of which are based on air
temperatures. The duration of the load restriction
period can be directly estimated by the following
relationship, which is a function of Freezing Index (FI):
Figure 4.26: Emergency Load
Duration (days) = 25 + 0.01 (FI) Restrictions Sign

The duration can also be estimated by use of TI and the following rough relationship:

TI = 0.3 (FI)

4.2.7 Frost Action Summary


Frost action is a critical pavement structural design concern in those parts of the country that regularly
experience ground freezing. Without proper precautions, severe frost action can destroy a new pavement in
a matter of one or two years. In taking the proper precautions, there are two basic types of frost action with
which to contend:

1. Frost heave. Results from accumulation of moisture in the soil during the freezing period.
These accumulations (ice lenses) expand perpendicular to the direction of heat flow and push the
pavement up, often causing severe cracking.

2. Thaw weakening. Once a subgrade is frozen it can be severely weakened when it thaws (usually
in the spring time). Therefore, loading that would not normally damage a given pavement may be
quite detrimental during thaw periods.

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

Frost action can be further characterized by the typical depth to which the subgrade freezes in a particular
area. This depth can be estimated by several equations including the Stefan formula and the modified
Berggren formula. Once this depth is known, it can be used as a pavement structural design input to
mitigate the detrimental effects of frost action. Mitigation techniques can be classified into four broad
categories:

1. Limit the depth of frost-susceptible material under the pavement structure.

2. Remove and replace the frost-susceptible subgrade.

3. Design the pavement structure based on reduced subgrade support.

4. Force a break in the groundwater’s capillary path.

If frost action cannot be adequately mitigated, severe pavement damage (in the case of frost heave) or a
loss of bearing capacity (in the case of thaw weakening) can result. Maintenance options to correct these
problems are limited to pavement repair or replacement (in the case of frost heave) or limiting pavement
loading during spring thawing (in the case of thaw weakening).

4.3 Moisture
Moisture (in the form of accumulated water or rainfall) affects pavements in a number of ways. This
section just briefly lists some of these ways:

● Design. Certain types of soils can be highly expansive when wet. Structural design must
account for this expansiveness.

● Construction.

❍ Subgrade should be compacted at an optimal moisture content. Excessive rainfall can


raise subgrade moisture content well beyond this value and make it virtually impossible to
compact.

❍ HMA and PCC should not be placed in wet conditions.

● Driving Conditions. Rainfall reduces skid resistance and can cause hydroplaning in severely
rutted areas.

Discussions in these areas are taken up in the corresponding sections.

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4.4 Design Parameters - Environment

4.4 Summary
The environment has a large influence on pavement performance and thus, pavement design. Temperature
extremes cause pavements to expand and contract, frost action may cause them to crack and fail and
moisture is a prime consideration in drainage, construction and driving safety.

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4.5 Design Parameters - Drainage

5 Drainage
Proper drainage is important to ensure a high quality Major Topics on this Page
long lived pavement; moisture accumulation in any
pavement structural layer can cause problems. 5.1 Surface Drainage
Moisture in the subgrade and aggregate base layer can
weaken these materials by increasing pore pressure 5.2 Subsurface Drainage
and reducing the materials' resistance to shear.
Additionally, some soils expand when moist, causing differential heaving. Moisture in the HMA layers
can cause stripping because it, instead of the asphalt binder, will adhere to aggregate particles.

Moisture sources are typically rainwater, runoff and high groundwater. These sources are prevented
from entering the pavement structure or accumulating in the subgrade through surface drainage and
subsurface drainage. Usually, it is more cost effective and less risky to prevent moisture entry and
accumulation using surface drainage than to effect moisture removal using subsurface drainage.

5.1 Surface Drainage


Surface drainage is concerned with removing all water that is present on the pavement surface, shoulder
surface or any other surface from which it may flow onto the pavement. If not systematically removed,
this water can accumulate underneath and weaken the pavement structure. There are three primary
means used to prevent water infiltration and accumulation:

● Impermeable pavement surface. An impermeable surface will protect the underlying subgrade
from water sources above. Permeability concerns are different for flexible and rigid
pavements.

❍ Flexible pavements. When HMA air voids are greater than about 8 - 9 percent they
are likely to be interconnected with one another, making the HMA water permeable
(Kandhal and Koehler, 1984). Proper compaction practices should be followed to
ensure an impermeable pavement. Also, minor cracks in the HMA should be
promptly sealed.

❍ Rigid pavements. PCC is generally considered impermeable in this context,


however joints and panel cracks must be tightly sealed to prevent water infiltration.

● Slope. The pavement section should be sloped to allow rainwater to sheet flow (see Figure

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4.5 Design Parameters - Drainage

4.27) quickly to the edge where it is typically collected in a curb and gutter system or a
roadside ditch. A generally accepted standard is a 2 percent cross slope.

● Grade. The curb and gutter or roadside ditch must be properly graded to allow flow to central
collection points such as catch basins or detention ponds. A generally accepted standard is a
grade of 0.5 percent or more although lesser grades have been used effectively.

Figure 4.27: Sheet Flow

5.2 Subsurface Drainage


Subsurface drainage is concerned with removing water that percolates through or is contained in the
underlying subgrade. This water, typically the result of a high water table or exceptionally wet weather,
can accumulate under the pavement structure by two chief means:

● Gravity flow. Water from surrounding areas can be absorbed by the soil then flow by gravity
to areas underneath the pavement structure. In pavement with high air voids (above 8 - 9
percent), water can percolate down through the pavement structure itself.

● Capillary rise. Capillary rise is the rise in a liquid above the level of zero pressure due to a
net upward force produced by the attraction of the water molecules to a solid surface (e.g.,
soil). Capillary rise can be substantial, up to 6 m (20 ft.) or more. In general, the smaller the
soil grain size, the greater the potential for capillary rise. Often, capillary rise is a problem in
areas of high groundwater tables.

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4.5 Design Parameters - Drainage

Most pavements have performed adequately without considering these effects. However, HMA
pavements can fail because of subgrade support deterioration as a result of excessive moisture or other
water-related problems. While the best solution is usually to prevent water infiltration with surface
drainage measures, subsurface drainage can be useful, however it needs to be done judiciously, because
it may be somewhat akin to treating the symptom rather than the problem. Subsurface drainage consists
of three basic elements (see Figures 4.28, 4.29 and 4.30):

1. A permeable base to provide for rapid removal of water which enters the pavement structure.
Based on recent research from California, asphalt treated permeable base layers may strip and
become clogged with fines thus weakening the overall pavement structure.

1. A method of conveying the removed water away from the pavement structure. At the least,
this may consist of a base sloped towards a drainage ditch. At the most, this may consist of a
pipe collector system.

2. A filter layer (such as a geotextile, graded aggregate layer or HMA) to prevent the migration
of fines into the permeable base from the subgrade, subbase or shoulder base material. Excess
fines in the permeable base will clog its drainage routes and render it ineffective. Depending
upon the subgrade and pavement structure a filter layer may not be used.

Figure 4.28: Flexible Pavement Subsurface Drainage

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4.5 Design Parameters - Drainage

Figure 4.29: Rigid Pavement Subsurface Drainage with PCC Tied Shoulder

Figure 4.30: Rigid Pavement Subsurface Drainage with HMA Shoulder

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5.1 Mix Design - Introduction

1 Introduction
The two key components of pavement design are mix design and structural design. This section deals
with HMA and PCC mix design. The goal of mix design is to determine the optimum mixture of
component materials for a given application. This includes detailed evaluations of aggregate, asphalt
and portland cement as well as a determination of their optimum blending ratios. This section covers the
following for HMA and PCC mix design:

● Mix design fundamentals. These are the fundamental philosophies and parameters of mix
design such as (1) why it is done, (2) what basic assumptions are made and (3) the specific
goals of mix design.

● Mix design methods. These sections cover the various mix design procedures used. For
HMA, the Hveem, Marshall and Superpave methods are covered. For PCC, the ACI method
is covered.

WSDOT Mix Design Methods

Currently, WSDOT uses both the Hveem and Superpave mix design
methods. However, Superpave is slated to eventually phase out the older
Hveem method.

Figure 5.1: U.S. Mix Design Methods


(from Tandon and Avelar, 2002; ERES, 1998; White, 1985 and Vallerga and Lovering, 1985)

● Performance Tests. These are the tests performed on laboratory designed mixes (or field
samples) to characterize their performance. They can consist of basic physical property
measurements (such as stiffness or strength) or laboratory simulation of field conditions (such
as rutting potential or chloride penetration).

This section is only meant to provide a brief overview of mix design methods as well as their
assumptions, inputs and outputs. Resources that provide a detailed description and analysis of each mix
design method are listed in the beginning of each section.

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

2 HMA - Fundamentals
HMA consists of two basic ingredients: aggregate and Major Topics on this Page
asphalt binder. HMA mix design is the process of
determining what aggregate to use, what asphalt binder 2.1 Concepts
to use and what the optimum combination of these two
2.2 Variables
ingredients ought to be. HMA mix design has evolved
as a laboratory procedure that uses several critical tests 3.3 Objectives
to make key characterizations of each trial HMA
blend. Although these characterizations are not 3.4 Basic Procedure
comprehensive, they can give the mix designer a good
3.5 Summary
understanding of how a particular mix will perform in
the field during construction and under subsequent traffic loading.

This section covers mix design fundamentals common to all mix design methods. First, two basic
concepts (mix design as a simulation and weight-volume terms and relationships) are discussed to set a
framework for subsequent discussion. Second, the variables that mix design may manipulate are
presented. Third, the fundamental objectives of mix design are presented. Finally, a generic mix design
procedure (which Hveem, Marshall and Superpave methods all use) is presented.

2.1 Concepts
Before discussing any mix design specifics, it is important to understand a couple of basic mix design
concepts:

● Mix design is a simulation

● HMA weight-volume terms and relationships

2.1.1 Mix Design is a Simulation


First, and foremost, mix design is a laboratory simulation. Mix design is meant to simulate actual HMA
manufacturing, construction and performance to the extent possible. Then, from this simulation we can
predict (with reasonable certainty) what type of mix design is best for the particular application in
question and how it will perform.

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Being a simulation, mix design has its limitations. Specifically, there are substantial differences
between laboratory and field conditions. Certainly, a small laboratory setup consisting of several 100 -
150 mm (4 - 6 inch) samples, a compaction machine and a couple of testing devices cannot fully recreate
actual manufacturing, construction and performance conditions. For instance, mix design compaction
should create the same general density (void content) to which the traffic will finally compact a mix in
the field under service conditions (Roberts et al., 1996). However, it is difficult to calibrate a number of
tamper blows (laboratory compaction) to a specific construction compaction and subsequent traffic
loading (field compaction). Currently used correlations between these densities are empirical in nature
and extremely rough (e.g., high, medium and low traffic categories). However, despite limitations such
as the preceding, mix design procedures can provide a cost effective and reasonably accurate simulation
that is useful in making mix design decisions.

2.1.2 HMA Weight-Volume Terms and Relationships


Mix design, and specifically Superpave mix design, is volumetric in nature. That is, it seeks to combine
aggregate and asphalt on a volume basis (as opposed to a weight basis). Volume measurements are
usually made indirectly by determining a material's weight and specific gravity and then calculating its
volume. Therefore, mix design involves several different void and specific gravity measurements.
These terms are often used in mix design discussions and are therefore presented in a separate section
for clarity and reference. It is important to have a clear understanding of these terms before proceeding.

2.2 Variables
HMA is a rather complex material upon which many different, and sometimes conflicting, performance
demands are placed. It must resist deformation and cracking, be durable over time, resist water damage,
provide a good tractive surface, and yet be inexpensive, readily made and easily placed. In order to meet
these demands, the mix designer can manipulate all of three variables:

1. Aggregate. Items such as type (source), gradation and size, toughness and abrasion resistance,
durability and soundness, shape and texture as well as cleanliness can be measured, judged
and altered to some degree.

2. Asphalt binder. Items such as type, durability, rheology, purity as well as additional
modifying agents can be measured, judged and altered to some degree.

3. The ratio of asphalt binder to aggregate. Usually expressed in terms of percent asphalt binder

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

by total weight of HMA, this ratio has a profound effect on HMA pavement performance.
Because of the wide differences in aggregate specific gravity, the proportion of asphalt binder
expressed as a percentage of total weight can vary widely even though the volume of
asphalt binder as a percentage of total volume remains quite constant.

2.3 Objectives
Before embarking on a mix design procedure it is important to understand what its objectives. This
section presents the typical qualities of a well-made HMA mix. By manipulating the variables of
aggregate, asphalt binder and the ratio between the two, mix design seeks to achieve the following
qualities in the final HMA product (Roberts et al., 1996):

1. Deformation resistance (stability). HMA should not distort (rut) or deform (shove) under
traffic loading. HMA deformation is related to one or more of the following:

❍ Aggregate surface and abrasion characteristics. Rounded particles tend to slip by


one another causing HMA distortion under load while angular particles interlock
with one another providing a good deformation resistant structure. Brittle particles
cause mix distortion because they tend to break apart under agitation or load. Tests
for particle shape and texture as well as durability and soundness can identify
problem aggregate sources. These sources can be avoided, or at a minimum,
aggregate with good surface and abrasion characteristics can be blended in to
provide better overall characteristics.

❍ Aggregate gradation. Gradations with excessive fines (either naturally occurring or


caused by excessive abrasion) cause distortion because the large amount of fine
particles tend to push the larger particles apart and act as lubricating ball-bearings
between these larger particles. A gradation resulting in low VMA or excessive
asphalt binder content can have the same effect. Gradation specifications are used
to ensure acceptable aggregate gradation.

❍ Asphalt binder content. Excess asphalt binder content tends to lubricate and push
aggregate particles apart making their rearrangement under load easier. The
optimum asphalt binder content as determined by mix design should prevent this.

❍ Asphalt binder viscosity at high temperatures. In the hot summer months, asphalt
binder viscosity is at its lowest and the pavement will deform more easily under

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

load. Specifying an asphalt binder with a minimum high temperature viscosity (as
can be done in the Superpave asphalt binder selection process) ensures adequate
high temperature viscosity.

2. Fatigue resistance. HMA should not crack when subjected to repeated loads over time.
HMA fatigue cracking is related to asphalt binder content and stiffness. Higher asphalt binder
contents will result in a mix that has a greater tendency to deform elastically (or at least
deform) rather than fracture under repeated load. The optimum asphalt binder content as
determined by mix design should be high enough to prevent excessive fatigue cracking. The
use of an asphalt binder with a lower stiffness will increase a mixture's fatigue life by
providing greater flexibility. However, the potential for rutting must also be considered in the
selection of an asphalt binder. Note that fatigue resistance is also highly dependent upon the
relationship between structural layer thickness and loading. However, this section only
addresses mix design issues.

3. Low temperature cracking resistance. HMA should not crack when subjected to low ambient
temperatures. Low temperature cracking is primarily a function of the asphalt binder low
temperature stiffness. Specifying asphalt binder with adequate low temperature properties (as
can be done in the Superpave asphalt binder selection process) should prevent, or at least
limit, low temperature cracking.

4. Durability. HMA should not suffer excessive aging during production and service life. HMA
durability is related to one or more of the following:

❍ The asphalt binder film thickness around each aggregate particle. If the film
thickness surrounding the aggregate particles is insufficient, it is possible that the
aggregate may become accessible to water through holes in the film. If the
aggregate is hydrophilic, water will displace the asphalt film and asphalt-aggregate
cohesion will be lost. This process is typically referred to as stripping. The
optimum asphalt binder content as determined by mix design should provide
adequate film thickness.

❍ Air voids. Excessive air voids (on the order of 8 percent or more) increase HMA
permeability and allow oxygen easier access to more asphalt binder thus
accelerating oxidation and volatilization. To address this, HMA mix design seeks
to adjust items such as asphalt content and aggregate gradation to produce design
air voids of about 4 percent. Excessive air voids can be either a mix design or a
construction problem and this section only addresses the mix design problem.

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

5. Moisture damage resistance. HMA should not degrade substantially from moisture
penetration into the mix. Moisture damage resistance is related to one or more of the
following:

❍ Aggregate mineral and chemical properties. Some aggregates attract moisture to


their surfaces, which can cause stripping. To address this, either stripping-
susceptible aggregates can be avoided or an anti-stripping asphalt binder modifier
can be used.

❍ Air voids. When HMA air voids exceed about 8 percent by volume, they may
become interconnected and allow water to easily penetrate the HMA and cause
moisture damage through pore pressure or ice expansion. To address this, HMA
mix design adjusts asphalt binder content and aggregate gradation to produce design
air voids of about 4 percent. Excessive air voids can be either a mix design or a
construction problem and this section only addresses the mix design problem.

6. Skid resistance. HMA placed as a surface course should provide sufficient friction when in
contact with a vehicle's tire. Low skid resistance is generally related to one or more of the
following:

❍ Aggregate characteristics such as texture, shape, size and resistance to polish.


Smooth, rounded or polish-susceptible aggregates are less skid resistant. Tests for
particle shape and texture can identify problem aggregate sources. These sources
can be avoided, or at a minimum, aggregate with good surface and abrasion
characteristics can be blended in to provide better overall characteristics.

❍ Asphalt binder content. Excessive asphalt binder can cause HMA bleeding. Using
the optimum asphalt binder content as determined by mix design should prevent
bleeding.

7. Workability. HMA must be capable of being placed and compacted with reasonable effort.
Workability is generally related to one or both of the following:

❍ Aggregate texture, shape and size. Flat, elongated or angular particles tend to
interlock rather than slip by one another making placement and compaction more
difficult (notice that this is almost in direct contrast with the desirable aggregate
properties for deformation resistance). Although no specific mix design tests are
available to quantify workability, tests for particle shape and texture can identify
possible workability problems.

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

❍ Aggregate gradation. Gradations with excess fines (especially in the 0.60 to 0.30
mm (No. 30 to 50) size range when using natural, rounded sand) can cause a tender
mix. A gradation resulting in low VMA or excess asphalt binder content can have
the same effect. Gradation specifications are used to ensure acceptable aggregate
gradation.

❍ Asphalt binder content. At laydown temperatures (above about 120 °C (250 °F))
asphalt binder works as a lubricant between aggregate particles as they are
compacted. Therefore, low asphalt binder content reduces this lubrication resulting
in a less workable mix. Note that a higher asphalt binder content is generally good
for workability but generally bad for deformation resistance.

❍ Asphalt binder viscosity at mixing/laydown temperatures. If the asphalt binder


viscosity is too high at mixing and laydown temperatures, the HMA becomes
difficult to dump, spread and compact. The Superpave rotational viscometer
specifically tests for mixing/laydown temperature asphalt binder viscosity.

Knowing these objectives, the challenge in mix design is then to develop a relatively simple procedure
with a minimal amount of tests and samples that will produce a mix with all the above HMA qualities.

2.4 Basic Procedure


HMA mix design is the process of determining what aggregate to use, what asphalt binder to use and
what the optimum combination of these two ingredients ought to be. In order to meet the demands
placed by the preceding desirable HMA properties, all mix design processes involve three basic steps:

1. Aggregate selection. No matter the specific method, the overall mix design procedure begins
with evaluation and selection of aggregate and asphalt binder sources. Different authorities
specify different methods of aggregate acceptance. Typically, a battery of aggregate physical
tests is run periodically on each particular aggregate source. Then, for each mix design,
gradation and size requirements are checked. Normally, aggregate from more than one source
is required to meet gradation requirements.

2. Asphalt binder selection. Although different authorities can and do specify different methods
of asphalt binder evaluation, the Superpave asphalt binder specification has been or will be
adopted by most State DOTs as the standard (NHI, 2000).

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Specifications

WSDOT uses the Superpave asphalt binder performance grading system and
specifications. Therefore, asphalt binder must meet the requirements of AASHTO MP 1.
WSDOT uses three baseline asphalt binder performance grades based on geography.
These baseline grades are typically used and then adjusted as necessary.

Previously, WSDOT had used the aged residue (AR) viscosity grading. The commonly
used grade in this old system was AR-4000W.

3. Optimum asphalt binder content determination. Mix design methods are generally
distinguished by the method with which they determine the optimum asphalt binder content.
This process can be subdivided as follows:

❍ Make several trial mixes with different asphalt binder contents.

❍ Compact these trial mixes in the laboratory. It is important to understand that this
step is at best a rough simulation of field conditions.

❍ Run several laboratory tests to determine key sample characteristics. These tests
represent a starting point for defining the mixture properties but they are not
comprehensive nor are they exact reproductions of actual field conditions.

❍ Pick the asphalt binder content that best satisfies the mix design objectives.

2.4.1 The Job Mix Formula


The end result of a successful mix design is a recommended mixture of aggregate and asphalt binder.
This recommended mixture, which also includes aggregate gradation and asphalt binder type is often
referred to as the job mix formula (JMF) or recipe. For HMA manufacturing, target values of gradation
and asphalt binder content are specified based on the JMF along with allowable specification bands to
allow for inherent material and production variability (see Table 5.1 and Figure 5.2). It bears repeating
that these target values and specification bands are based on the JMF and not any general HMA
gradation requirements. Thus, the mix designer is allowed substantial freedom in choosing a particular
gradation for the JMF and then the manufacturer is expected to adhere quite closely to this JMF
gradation during production.

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5.2 HMA Mix Design - Fundamentals

Table 5.1: Example Job Mix Formula (JMF) with Specification and Tolerance Bands

Sieve (metric) 19.0 mm 12.5 mm 9.5 mm 2.36 mm 0.075 mm

Sieve Size (U.S. units) 3/4 inch 1/2 inch 3/8 inch No. 8 No. 200

Gradation Control Points 100 min. 90 - 100 90 max. 28 - 58 2.0 - 7.0

Job Mix Formula (JMF) 100 96 75 29 4.5

Tolerance 99 - 100 +/- 6% +/- 6% +/- 4% +/- 2.0%

Tolerance Limits 99 - 100 90 - 100 69 - 81 25 - 33 2.5 - 6.5

Figure 5.2: Job Mix Formula (JMF) with Specification Bands Example

2.5 Summary
HMA mix design is a laboratory process used to determine the appropriate aggregate, asphalt binder and
their proportions for use in HMA. Mix design is a process to manipulate three variables: (1) aggregate,
(2) asphalt binder content and (3) the ratio of aggregate to asphalt binder with the objective of obtaining
an HMA that is deformation resistant, fatigue resistant, low temperature crack resistant, durable,
moisture damage resistant, skid resistant and workable. Although mix design has many limitations it has
proven to be a cost-effective method to provide crucial information that can be used to formulate a high-
performance HMA.

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

3 HMA - Hveem Method


WSDOT Mix Design Methods Major Topics on this Page

Currently, WSDOT uses both the Hveem and Superpave mix design 3.1 History
methods. However, Superpave is slated to eventually phase out the older
3.2 Procedure
Hveem method.
3.3 Summary

The basic concepts of the Hveem mix design method were originally developed by Francis Hveem when he was a
Resident Engineer for the California Division of Highways in the late 1920s and 1930s. Currently, the Hveem
method is used by several western states. The basic philosophy surrounding the Hveem method can be summarized
in the following three points (Vallerga and Lovering, 1985):

1. HMA requires enough asphalt binder to coat each aggregate particle to an optimum film thickness
(allowing for its absorption into the aggregate).

2. HMA requires sufficient stability to resist traffic loading. This stability is generated by internal friction
between aggregate particles and cohesion (or tensile strength) created by the binder.

3. HMA durability increases with thicker asphalt binder film thicknesses.

Based on this philosophy, the design asphalt content is selected as that asphalt content resulting in the highest
durability without dropping below a minimum allowable stability. In other words, as much asphalt binder as possible
should be used while still meeting minimum stability requirements.

This section consists of a brief history of the Hveem mix design method followed by a general outline of the actual
method. This outline emphasizes general concepts and rationale for the specific procedures. Detailed procedures can
vary from state-to-state but typical procedures are available in the following documents:

● Roberts, F.L.; Kandhal, P.S.; Brown, E.R.; Lee, D.Y. and Kennedy, T.W. (1996). Hot Mix Asphalt
Materials, Mixture Design, and Construction. National Asphalt Pavement Association Education
Foundation. Lanham, MD.

● Asphalt Institute. (1997). Mix Design Methods for Asphalt, 6th ed., MS-02. Asphalt Institute. Lexington,
KY.

3.1 History (from Vallerga and Lovering, 1985)


In the late 1920s, the California Division of Highways had come to use an asphalt-aggregate blend commonly known
as an "oil mix" on many of their rural roads. An oil mix was a compromise between the more expensive high

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

performance HMA used on major urban streets and highways and the cheaper low performance penetrative method
(asphalt oil sprayed on a roadway surface of unbound particles) used on low-volume rural highways. An oil mix
consisted of a combination of aggregate and asphaltic oil that was mixed either in a plant or on the road itself (called
a "road mix"), spread by blade, then compacted by traffic. Unfortunately, there was no method available for
designing these oil mixes. Based on his research, and that of others, Francis N. Hveem developed a method for
determining the correct amount of oil based on aggregate surface area, which could be determined from gradation. It
also became evident that even given the right oil content, roads containing aggregates with "hard, glassy surface
texture" tended to deform excessively under load while roads containing aggregates with a "rough, irregular surface
texture" were more stable. Therefore, Hveem worked to develop a device that would measure stability, which
eventually became the Hveem Stabilometer. One more problem existed: specimens compacted in the laboratory for
the Stabilometer did not produce the same readings as those taken from field cores. Therefore, a new compaction
machine, which eventually became the California Kneading Compactor, was developed to more closely simulate the
compaction produced by rollers in the field.

3.2 Procedure
The Hveem mix design method consists of 6 basic steps:

1. Aggregate selection.

2. Asphalt binder selection.

3. Sample preparation (including compaction).

4. Stability determination using the Hveem Stabilometer.

5. Density and voids calculations.

6. Optimum asphalt binder content selection.

Standard procedures used in Hveem mix design are:

● AASHTO T 246: Resistance to Deformation and Cohesion of Bituminous Mixtures by Means of Hveem
Apparatus

● AASHTO T 247: Preparation of Test Specimens of Bituminous Mixtures by Means of the California
Kneading Compactor

3.2.1 Aggregate Selection


Although Hveem did not specifically develop an aggregate evaluation and selection procedure, one is included here
because it is integral to any mix design. A typical aggregate evaluation for use with either the Hveem or Marshall

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

mix design methods includes three basic steps (Roberts et al., 1996):

1. Determine aggregate physical properties. This consists of running various tests to determine properties
such as:

❍ Toughness and abrasion

❍ Durability and soundness

❍ Cleanliness and deleterious materials

❍ Particle shape and surface texture

2. Determine other aggregate descriptive physical properties. If the aggregate is acceptable according to step
#1, additional tests are run to fully characterize the aggregate. These tests determine:

❍ Gradation and size

❍ Specific gravity and absorption

3. Perform blending calculations to achieve the mix design aggregate gradation. Often, aggregates from
more than one source or stockpile are used to obtain the final aggregate gradation used in a mix design.
Trial blends of these different gradations are usually calculated until an acceptable final mix design
gradation is achieved. Typical considerations for a trial blend include:

❍ All gradation specifications must be met. Typical specifications will require the percent retained
by weight on particular sieve sizes to be within a certain band.

❍ The gradation should not be too close to the FHWA's 0.45 power maximum density curve. If it
is, then the VMA is likely to be too low. Gradation should deviate from the FHWA's 0.45 power
maximum density curve, especially on the 2.36 mm (No. 8) sieve.

3.2.2 Asphalt Binder Selection


Hveem did not specifically develop an asphalt binder evaluation and selection procedure. However, each agency uses
some method of determining the appropriate asphalt cement and modifiers (if used). Asphalt binder evaluation can
be based on local experience, previous performance or a procedure. The most common procedure is the Superpave
PG binder system. Once the binder is selected, several preliminary tests are run to determine the asphalt binder's
temperature-viscosity relationship.

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Specifications

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

WSDOT uses the Superpave asphalt binder performance grading system and specifications. Therefore,
asphalt binder must meet the requirements of AASHTO MP 1. WSDOT uses three baseline asphalt
binder performance grades based on geography. These baseline grades are typically used and then
adjusted as necessary.

Previously, WSDOT had used the aged residue (AR) viscosity grading. The commonly used grade in
this old system was AR-4000W.

3.2.3 Sample Preparation


The Hveem method, like other mix design methods, creates several trial aggregate-asphalt binder blends, each with a
different asphalt binder content. Then, by evaluating each trial blend's performance, an optimum asphalt binder
content can be selected. In order for this concept to work, the trial blends must contain a range of asphalt contents
both above and below the optimum asphalt content. This can be accomplished by either of two ways:

1. Select the asphalt binder content for each trial blend from a predetermined list. Many agencies have
predetermined lists that specify the asphalt content for each trial blend. It is assumed that the optimum
asphalt binder content will lie within the range of specified trail blend values.

2. Estimate the optimum asphalt binder content then select trail blends with asphalt binder contents at, above
and below the estimated optimum content. One common estimation method is the centrifuge kerosene
equivalent test (CKE), although this procedure has been discontinued by AASHTO (AASHTO, 2000a).

WSDOT Trial Blend Asphalt Binder Content Selection

WSDOT does not use the CKE test. WSDOT uses a predetermined set of six asphalt binder
contents (at 0.5% intervals) for each class of mix. Through experience it is generally known
that these six trial blends will bracket the optimum asphalt binder content. Trial blends can be
adjusted depending upon the aggregate used and its specific gravity.

3.2.3.1 Centrifuge Kerosene Equivalent (CKE) Test

The centrifuge kerosene equivalent (CKE) test, used to estimate optimum asphalt content, involves three basic steps
(ASTM, 2000; AASHTO, 2000; Roberts et al., 1996):

1. Determine the centrifuge kerosene equivalent (CKE). A small fine aggregate sample (passing the 4.75 mm
(No. 4) sieve) is first weighed then submerged in kerosene. Once the sample is saturated with kerosene it is
placed in a centrifuge for 2 minutes to remove excess kerosene, then reweighed. The difference in these

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

weights gives an estimate of the fine aggregate's ability to absorb asphalt binder.

where: CKE = Centrifuge Kerosene Equivalent

WW = Sample wet weight (after running in the centrifuge)

WD = Sample dry weight (before submerging it in kerosene)

2. Determine the coarse aggregate surface capacity. A small coarse aggregate sample (passing the 9.5 mm
(0.375 inch) sieve but retained on the 4.75 mm (No. 4) sieve) is first weighed then submerged in SAE 10
oil for 5 minutes. The sample is then drained and placed in an oven for 15 minutes after which it is
reweighed. The difference in these weights gives an estimate of the coarse aggregate's ability to absorb
asphalt binder.

where: WW = Sample wet weight (after heated in the oven)

WD = Sample dry weight (before submerging it in oil)

3. Estimate the optimum asphalt content. Results from the first two steps are corrected for aggregate specific
gravity then entered on a chart to determine the percent oil recommended for an asphalt cutback (specific
cutback types referenced are RC-250, MC-250 and SC-250). This percent oil is then corrected for the
increased viscosity of the HMA asphalt binder used.

The standard CKE tests are:

● AASHTO T 270: Centrifuge Kerosene Equivalent and Approximate Bitumen Ratio (Discontinued)

● ASTM D 5148: Centrifuge Kerosene Equivalent

3.2.3.2 Sample Asphalt Binder Contents

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

Based on the results of the CKE test, samples are typically prepared with the following asphalt binder contents
(Roberts et al., 1996):

● The value determined by the CKE test

● 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 percent above the CKE value (at least one set of specimens should have enough
asphalt binder to flush after compaction)

● 0.5 and 1.0 percent below the CKE value

3.2.3.3 Compaction with the California Kneading Compactor

Each sample is then heated to the anticipated compaction temperature and compacted with the California kneading
compactor (see Figure 5.3), a device that applies pressure to a sample through a hydraulically operated tamper foot.
Key parameters of the California kneading compactor are:

● Sample size = 102 mm (4-inch) diameter cylinder approximately 64 mm (2.5 inches) in height (corrections
can be made for different sample heights)

● Tamper foot = Shield-shaped with an area of 20 cm2 (3.1 in2)

● Compaction pressure = Ranges from 2.4 to 3.4 MPa (350 to 500 psi)

● Number of blows = 150 (plus any preparatory blows at 1.7 MPa (250 psi) )

● Simulation method = The tamper foot strikes the sample on the top near the edge. The base rotates 1/6 of a
revolution after each blow. This helps achieve a sample particle orientation that is somewhat like that
achieved in the field after roller compaction.

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

Figure 5.3: California Kneading Compactors

The standard kneading compactor sample preparation procedure is:

● AASHTO T 247 and ASTM D 1561: Preparation of Test Specimens of Bituminous Mixtures by Means of
the California Kneading Compactor

3.2.4 The Hveem Stabilometer


and Cohesiometer
The Hveem stabilometer (see Figure 5.4) provides the key
performance prediction measure for the Hveem mix design
method (TRB, 2000). The stabilometer measures the
resistance to deformation of a compacted HMA sample by
measuring the lateral pressure developed from applying a
vertical load (AASHTO, 2000). The cohesiometer then
measures the cohesion of the same compacted HMA
sample by measuring the forces required to break or bend
the sample as a cantilevered beam (AASHTO, 2000).

3.2.4.1 Hveem Stabilometer

The stabilometer, a closed-system triaxial test, applies an


increasing load to the top of the sample at a predetermined
Figure 5.4: Hveem Stabilometer
rate. As the load increases, the lateral pressure is read at

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

specified intervals. The resulting stabilometer value is calculated as:

where: S = stabilometer value

Pv = vertical pressure - typically 2800 kPa (400 psi)

Ph = horizontal pressure corresponding to Pv in kPa (psi)

D = displacement of specimen in 0.25 mm (0.01 inch) units

Note: a correction to the stabilometer value is made if the sample height is not 64 mm
(2.5 inches)

With this equation, the stabilometer value can range from 0 to 90. Zero would represent a condition where lateral
pressure is equal to vertical pressure (e.g., a liquid). Ninety would represent a condition where there is no lateral
pressure no matter what the vertical pressure is (e.g., an incompressible solid). Table 5.2 shows typical stabilometer
criteria.

Table 5.2: Typical Hveem Design Criteria (from Asphalt Institute, 1979)

Light Traffic Medium Traffic Heavy Traffic


Mix Criteria
(< 104 ESALs) (104 - 106 ESALs) (> 106 ESALs)
Stabilometer Value 30 35 37
Air Voids Approximately 4 percent

3.2.4.2 Hveem Cohesiometer

The cohesiometer (see Figures 5.5 and 5.6) attempts to measure cohesive strength across the diameter of a sample on
which the stability test had already been conducted. This is intended to provide some prediction about the ability of
the HMA sample to resist raveling under traffic loading. Basically the sample is bent as a cantilevered beam until it
fails. Although it was useful for oil mixes, HMAs tend to have large cohesion values as measured by the
cohesiometer and rarely, if ever, fail. As a result, the cohesiometer has fallen out of favor and is rarely used (Roberts
et al., 1996).

where: C = cohesiometer value

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

L = weight of shot (grams)

W = diameter or width of specimen (inches)

H = height of specimen (inches)

Figure 5.5: Cohesiometer Figure 5.6: Cohesiometer Close-Up

Typical WSDOT Hveem Mix Design Specifications

Basic WSDOT Hveem mix design specifications are shown in the table below. This table does not
list all specifications. These specifications are taken from the WSDOT 2002 Standard Specifications
for Road, Bridge and Municipal Construction (M 41-10).

Basic WSDOT Hveem Mix Design Specifications

Mix Class
Item
A B D E F G

Stabilometer 37 35 - 35 35 35

Cohesiometer 100 100 - 100 50 100

Percent Air Voids 2 - 4.5 2 - 4.5 - 2 - 4.5 2 - 4.5 2 - 4.5

Moisture Susceptibility using


Pass
the Modified Lottman Test

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

3.2.5 Density and Voids Analysis


All mix design methods use density and voids to determine basic HMA physical characteristics. Two different
measures of densities are typically taken:

1. Bulk specific gravity (Gmb).

2. Theoretical maximum specific gravity (TMD, Gmm).

These densities are then used to calculate the volumetric parameters of the HMA. Measured void expressions are
usually:

● Air voids (Va), sometimes expressed as voids in the total mix (VTM)

● Voids in the mineral aggregate (VMA)

● Voids filled with asphalt (VFA)

Generally, these values must meet local or State criteria.

3.2.6 Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content


The optimum asphalt binder content is finally selected based on the combined results of the stabilometer test, density
analysis and void analysis. As a first step, it is prudent to plot these test results versus asphalt binder content in order
to check them for possible testing errors. Typically, these plots should exhibit the following characteristics:

● Hveem stability should decrease with increasing asphalt binder content.

● Density will generally increase with increasing asphalt content. The curve may or may not reach a
maximum.

● Percent air voids should decrease with increasing asphalt content.

Recall that the Hveem mix design method strives to select the asphalt content resulting in the highest durability
without falling below a minimum allowable stability. The "pyramid" method is a common method of selecting the
optimum asphalt binder content (see Figure 5.7).

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Content Selection

In general, WSDOT selects the asphalt binder content that corresponds


to 4 percent air voids and meets minimum stability criteria.

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5.3 HMA Mix Design - Hveem Method

Figure 5.7: Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content Example


Using the "Pyramid" Method (from Roberts et al., 1996)

3.3 Summary
The Hveem mix design method was developed to address specific mix design issues confronting Francis Hveem and
the California Division of Highways in the late 1920s and 1930s. Since then, it has been modified and supplemented
to address new concerns but the basic testing apparatus and selection criteria are still the same. The Hveem method is
based on three basic assumptions:

1. Optimum asphalt binder content is dependent upon aggregate surface area and absorption.

2. Stability is a function of aggregate particle friction and mix cohesion.

3. HMA durability increases with more asphalt binder.

The two biggest differentiating aspects of the Hveem method when compared to other mix design methods are the
kneading compactor and the Hveem stabilometer. The kneading compactor uses a special rotating base to simulate
actual field compaction while the stabilometer measures HMA deformation under load. The design asphalt content is
selected as that asphalt content resulting in the highest durability without going below a minimum allowable
stability.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

4 HMA - Marshall Method


WSDOT does not use the Marshall mix design method. Major Topics on this Page

4.1 history
The basic concepts of the Marshall mix design method
4.2 procedure
were originally developed by Bruce Marshall of the
Mississippi Highway Department around 1939 and 4.3 summary
then refined by the U.S. Army. Currently, the
Marshall method is used in some capacity by about 38 states. The Marshall method seeks to select the
asphalt binder content at a desired density that satisfies minimum stability and range of flow values
(White, 1985).

This section consists of a brief history of the Marshall mix design method followed by a general outline
of the actual method. This outline emphasizes general concepts and rationale over specific procedures.
Detailed procedures vary from state-to-state but typical procedures are available in the following
documents:

● Roberts, F.L.; Kandhal, P.S.; Brown, E.R.; Lee, D.Y. and Kennedy, T.W. (1996). Hot Mix
Asphalt Materials, Mixture Design, and Construction. National Asphalt Pavement
Association Education Foundation. Lanham, MD.

● National Asphalt Pavement Association. (1982). Development of Marshall Procedures for


Designing Asphalt Paving Mixtures, Information Series 84. National Asphalt Pavement
Association. Lanham, MD.

● Asphalt Institute. (1997). Mix Design Methods for Asphalt, 6th ed., MS-02. Asphalt
Institute. Lexington, KY.

4.1 History (from White, 1985)


During World War II, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) began evaluating various HMA mix
design methods for use in airfield pavement design. Motivation for this search came from the ever-
increasing wheel loads and tire pressures produced by larger and larger military aircraft. Early work at
the U.S. Army Waterways Experiment Station (WES) in 1943 had the objective of developing:

"...a simple apparatus suitable for use with the present California Bearing Ratio (CBR) equipment

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

to design and control asphalt paving mixtures..."

The most promising method eventually proved to be the Marshall Stability Method developed by Bruce
G. Marshall at the Mississippi Highway Department in 1939. WES took the original Marshall Stability
Test and added a deformation measurement (using a flow meter) that was reasoned to assist in detecting
excessively high asphalt contents. This appended test was eventually recommended for adoption by the
U.S. Army because:

1. It was designed to stress the entire sample rather than just a portion of it.

2. It facilitated rapid testing with minimal effort.

3. It was compact, light and portable.

4. It produced densities reasonably close to field densities.

WES continued to refine the Marshall method through the 1950s with various tests on materials, traffic
loading and weather variables. Today the Marshall method, despite its shortcomings, is probably the
most widely used mix design method in the world. It has probably become so widely used because (1) it
was adopted and used by the U.S. military all over the world during and after WWII and (2) it is simple,
compact and inexpensive.

4.2 Procedure
The Marshall mix design method consists of 6 basic steps:

1. Aggregate selection.

2. Asphalt binder selection.

3. Sample preparation (including compaction).

4. Stability determination using the Marshall stability and flow test.

5. Density and voids calculations.

6. Optimum asphalt binder content selection.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

4.2.1 Aggregate Evaluation


Although neither Marshall nor WES specifically developed an aggregate evaluation and selection
procedure, one is included here because it is integral to any mix design. A typical aggregate evaluation
for use with either the Hveem or Marshall mix design methods includes three basic steps (Roberts et al.,
1996):

1. Determine aggregate physical properties. This consists of running various tests to determine
properties such as:

❍ Toughness and abrasion

❍ Durability and soundness

❍ Cleanliness and deleterious materials

❍ Particle shape and surface texture

2. Determine other aggregate descriptive physical properties. If the aggregate is acceptable


according to step #1, additional tests are run to fully characterize the aggregate. These tests
determine:

❍ Gradation and size

❍ Specific gravity and absorption

3. Perform blending calculations to achieve the mix design aggregate gradation. Often,
aggregates from more than one source or stockpile are used to obtain the final aggregate
gradation used in a mix design. Trial blends of these different gradations are usually
calculated until an acceptable final mix design gradation is achieved. Typical considerations
for a trial blend include:

❍ All gradation specifications must be met. Typical specifications will require the
percent retained by weight on particular sieve sizes to be within a certain band.

❍ The gradation should not be too close to the FHWA's 0.45 power maximum density
curve. If it is, then the VMA is likely to be too low. Gradation should deviate from
the FHWA's 0.45 power maximum density curve, especially on the 2.36 mm (No.
8) sieve.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

4.2.2 Asphalt Binder Evaluation


The Marshall test does not have a common generic asphalt binder selection and evaluation procedure.
Each specifying entity uses their own method with modifications to determine the appropriate binder
and, if any, modifiers. Binder evaluation can be based on local experience, previous performance or a
set procedure. Perhaps the most common set procedure now in use is based on the Superpave PG binder
system. However, before this system there was no nationally recognized standard for binder evaluation
and selection. Once the binder is selected, several preliminary tests are run to determine the asphalt
binder's temperature-viscosity relationship.

4.2.3 Sample Preparation


The Marshall method, like other mix design methods, uses several trial aggregate-asphalt binder blends
(typically 5 blends with 3 samples each for a total of 15 specimens), each with a different asphalt binder
content. Then, by evaluating each trial blend's performance, an optimum asphalt binder content can be
selected. In order for this concept to work, the trial blends must contain a range of asphalt contents both
above and below the optimum asphalt content. Therefore, the first step in sample preparation is to
estimate an optimum asphalt content. Trial blend asphalt contents are then determined from this
estimate.

4.2.3.1 Optimum Asphalt Binder Content Estimate

The Marshall mix design method can use any suitable method for estimating optimum asphalt content
and usually relies on local procedures or experience.

4.2.3.2 Sample Asphalt Binder Contents

Based on the results of the optimum asphalt binder content estimate, samples are typically prepared at
0.5 percent by weight of mix increments, with at least two samples above the estimated asphalt binder
content and two below.

4.2.3.3 Compaction with the Marshall Hammer

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

Each sample is then heated to the anticipated compaction temperature and compacted with a Marshall
hammer, a device that applies pressure to a sample through a tamper foot (see Figure 5.8). Some
hammers are automatic and some are hand operated. Key parameters of the compactor are:

● Sample size = 102 mm (4-inch) diameter cylinder 64 mm (2.5 inches) in height (corrections
can be made for different sample heights)

● Tamper foot = Flat and circular with a diameter of 98.4 mm (3.875 inches) corresponding to
an area of 76 cm2 (11.8 in2).

● Compaction pressure = Specified as a 457.2 mm (18 inches) free fall drop distance of a
hammer assembly with a 4536 g (10 lb.) sliding weight.

● Number of blows = Typically 35, 50 or 75 on each side depending upon anticipated traffic
loading.

● Simulation method = The tamper foot strikes the sample on the top and covers almost the
entire sample top area. After a specified number of blows, the sample is turned over and the
procedure repeated.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

Figure 5.8: Marshall Drop Hammers

The standard Marshall method sample preparation procedure is contained in:

● AASHTO T 245: Resistance to Plastic Flow of Bituminous Mixtures Using the Marshall
Apparatus

4.2.4 The Marshall Stability and Flow Test


The Marshall stability and flow test provides the performance prediction measure for the Marshall mix
design method. The stability portion of the test measures the maximum load supported by the test
specimen at a loading rate of 50.8 mm/minute (2 inches/minute). Basically, the load is increased until it
reaches a maximum then when the load just begins to decrease, the loading is stopped and the maximum
load is recorded.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

During the loading, an attached dial gauge measures the specimen's plastic flow as a result of the loading
(see Figure 5.9). The flow value is recorded in 0.25 mm (0.01 inch) increments at the same time the
maximum load is recorded.

Figure 5.9: Marshall Testing Apparatus

Typical Marshall design stability and flow criteria are shown in Table 5.3.

Table 5.3: Typical Marshall Design Criteria (from Asphalt Institute, 1979)

Light Traffic Medium Traffic Heavy Traffic


Mix Criteria (< 104 ESALs) (104 - 106 ESALs) (> 106 ESALs)
Min. Max. Min. Max. Min. Max.
Compaction
(number of blows on each end of the 35 50 75
sample)

2224 N 3336 N 6672 N


Stability (minimum)
(500 lbs.) (750 lbs.) (1500 lbs.)
Flow (0.25 mm (0.01 inch)) 8 20 8 18 8 16
Percent Air Voids 3 5 3 5 3 5

One standard Marshall mix design procedure is:

● AASHTO T 245: Resistance to Plastic Flow of Bituminous Mixtures Using Marshall Apparatus

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

4.2.5 Density and Voids Analysis


All mix design methods use density and voids to determine basic HMA physical characteristics. Two
different measures of densities are typically taken:

1. Bulk specific gravity (Gmb).

2. Theoretical maximum specific gravity (TMD, Gmm).

These densities are then used to calculate the volumetric parameters of the HMA. Measured void
expressions are usually:

● Air voids (Va), sometimes expressed as voids in the total mix (VTM)

● Voids in the mineral aggregate (VMA) - see Table 5.4.

● Voids filled with asphalt (VFA)

Generally, these values must meet local or State criteria.

Table 5.4: Typical Marshall Minimum VMA (from Asphalt Institute, 1979)

Nominal Maximum
Minimum VMA
Particle Size
(percent)
(mm) (U.S.)
63 2.5 inch 11
50 2.0 inch 11.5
37.5 1.5 inch 12
25.0 1.0 inch 13
19.0 0.75 inch 14
12.5 0.5 inch 15
9.5 0.375 inch 16
4.75 No. 4 sieve 18
2.36 No. 8 sieve 21
1.18 No. 16 sieve 23.5

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

4.2.6 Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content


The optimum asphalt binder content is finally selected based on the combined results of Marshall
stability and flow, density analysis and void analysis (see Figure 5.10). Optimum asphalt binder content
can be arrived at in the following procedure (Roberts et al., 1996):

1. Plot the following graphs:

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. density. Density will generally increase with increasing
asphalt content, reach a maximum, then decrease. Peak density usually occurs at a
higher asphalt binder content than peak stability.

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. Marshall stability. This should follow one of two trends:

■ Stability increases with increasing asphalt binder content, reaches a peak,


then decreases.

■ Stability decreases with increasing asphalt binder content and does not
show a peak. This curve is common for some recycled HMA mixtures.

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. flow.

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. air voids. Percent air voids should decrease with
increasing asphalt binder content.

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. VMA. Percent VMA should decrease with increasing
asphalt binder content, reach a minimum, then increase.

❍ Asphalt binder content vs. VFA. Percent VFA increases with increasing asphalt
binder content.

2. Determine the asphalt binder content that corresponds to the specifications median air void
content (typically this is 4 percent). This is the optimum asphalt binder content.

3. Determine properties at this optimum asphalt binder content by referring to the plots.
Compare each of these values against specification values and if all are within specification,
then the preceding optimum asphalt binder content is satisfactory. Otherwise, if any of these
properties is outside the specification range the mixture should be redesigned.

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5.4 HMA Mix Design - Marshall Method

Figure 5.10: Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content Example


(from Roberts et al., 1996)

4.3 Summary
The Marshall mix design method was developed to address specific mix design issues confronting the
USCOE during World War II. Therefore, it was developed to be simple, light, quick, and reasonably
accurate for the wheel loading of the time. Since then it has been modified and supplemented to
address new concerns but the basic testing apparatus and selection criteria remain the same.

The biggest differentiating aspects of the Marshall method are the Marshall hammer and the Marshall
stability and flow apparatus. Both are probably overly simplistic for high-end or high-load pavements
but they are simple, light, portable and inexpensive.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

5 HMA - Superpave Method


WSDOT Mix Design Methods Major Topics on this Page

Currently, WSDOT uses both the Hveem and Superpave mix design 5.1 History
methods. However, Superpave is slated to eventually phase out the older
5.2 Procedure
Hveem method.
5.3 Summary

One of the principal results from the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) was the Superpave mix design method. The
Superpave mix design method was designed to replace the Hveem and Marshall methods. The volumetric analysis common to the
Hveem and Marshall methods provides the basis for the Superpave mix design method. The Superpave system ties asphalt binder
and aggregate selection into the mix design process, and considers traffic and climate as well. The compaction devices from the
Hveem and Marshall procedures have been replaced by a gyratory compactor and the compaction effort in mix design is tied to
expected traffic.

This section consists of a brief history of the Superpave mix design method followed by a general outline of the actual method.
This outline emphasizes general concepts and rationale over specific procedures. Typical procedures are available in the following
documents:

● Roberts, F.L.; Kandhal, P.S.; Brown, E.R.; Lee, D.Y. and Kennedy, T.W. (1996). Hot Mix Asphalt Materials, Mixture
Design, and Construction. National Asphalt Pavement Association Education Foundation. Lanham, MD.

● Asphalt Institute. (2001). Superpave Mix Design. Superpave Series No. 2 (SP-02). Asphalt Institute. Lexington, KY.

● American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). (2000 and 2001). AASHTO
Provisional Standards. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Washington, D.C.

5.1 History
Under the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), an initiative was undertaken to improve materials selection and mixture
design by developing:

1. A new mix design method that accounts for traffic loading and environmental conditions.

2. A new method of asphalt binder evaluation.

3. New methods of mixture analysis.

When SHRP was completed in 1993 it introduced these three developments and called them the Superior Performing Asphalt
Pavement System (Superpave). Although the new methods of mixture performance testing have not yet been established, the mix
design method is well-established.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

5.2 Procedure
The Superpave mix design method consists of 7 basic steps:

1. Aggregate selection.

2. Asphalt binder selection.

3. Sample preparation (including compaction).

4. Performance Tests.

5. Density and voids calculations.

6. Optimum asphalt binder content selection.

7. Moisture susceptibility evaluation.

5.2.1 Aggregate Selection


Superpave specifies aggregate in two ways. First, it places restrictions on aggregate gradation by means of broad control points.
Second, it places "consensus requirements" on coarse and fine aggregate angularity, flat and elongated particles, and clay content.
Other aggregate criteria, which the Asphalt Institute (2001) calls "source properties" (because they are considered to be source
specific) such as L.A. abrasion, soundness and water absorption are used in Superpave but since they were not modified by
Superpave they are not discussed here.

WSDOT Superpave Aggregate Source Requirements

As of 2002, once aggregate source properties are tested and prove satisfactory,
aggregate sources are approved for 5 years.

Property Value

Los Angeles Abrasion (500 revolutions) 30% maximum

Degradation Factor

Wearing Course 30 minimum

Non-Wearing Course 20 minimum

5.2.1.1 Gradation and Size

Aggregate gradation influences such key HMA parameters as stiffness, stability, durability, permeability, workability, fatigue
resistance, frictional resistance and resistance to moisture damage (Roberts et al., 1996). Additionally, the maximum aggregate

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

size can be influential in compaction and lift thickness determination.

Gradation Specifications

Superpave mix design specifies aggregate gradation control points, through which aggregate gradations must pass. These control
points are very general and are a starting point for a job mix formula.

WSDOT Superpave Gradation Requirements

WSDOT uses 9.5 mm (0.375 inch), 12.5 mm (0.5 inch), 19.0 mm (0.75 inch) and 25.0 mm (1 inch) Superpave mixes. WSDOT
gradation requirements are the same as the AASHTO requirements except that the upper and lower control points on the 0.075
mm (No. 200) sieve for the 9.5 mm (0.375 inch), 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) and 19.0 mm (0.75 inch) Superpave mixes are 2.0 and 7.0
percent respectively. The WSDOT upper and lower control points on the 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve for the 25.0 mm (1 inch)
mix are 1.0 and 7.0 respectively.

Aggregate Blending

It is rare to obtain a desired aggregate gradation from a single aggregate stockpile. Therefore, Superpave mix designs usually draw
upon several different aggregate stockpiles and blend them together in a ratio that will produce an acceptable final blended
gradation. It is quite common to find a Superpave mix design that uses 3 or 4 different aggregate stockpiles (see Figure 5.11).

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

Figure 5.11: Screen Shot from HMA View Showing a Typical Aggregate Blend from 4 Stockpiles

Typically, several aggregate blends are evaluated prior to performing a complete mix design. Evaluations are done by preparing
an HMA sample of each blend at the estimated optimum asphalt binder content then compacting it. Results from this evaluation
can show whether or not a particular blend will meet minimum VMA requirements and Ninitial or Nmax requirements.

Dust- to-Binder Ratio


In order to ensure the proper amount of material passing the 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve (called "silt-clay" by AASHTO definition
and "dust" by Superpave) in the mix, Superpave specifies a range of dust-to-binder ratio by mass. The equation is:

where: P0.075 = mass of particles passing the 0.075 mm (No. 200) sieve

Pbe = effective binder content = the total asphalt binder content of a paving
mixture less the portion of asphalt binder that is lost by absorption into the
aggregate particles.

Dust-to-binder ratio specifications are normally 0.6 - 1.2, but a ratio of up to 1.6 may be used at an agency's discretion (AASHTO,
2001).

WSDOT Superpave Dust-to-Binder Requirements

The WSDOT Superpave dust-to-binder ratio must fall between 0.6 and
1.6.

5.2.1.2 Consensus Requirements

"Consensus requirements" came about because SHRP did not specifically address aggregate properties and it was thought that
there needed to be some guidance associated with the Superpave mix design method. Therefore, an expert group was convened
and they arrived at a consensus on several aggregate property requirements - the "consensus requirements". This group
recommended minimum angularity, flat or elongated particle and clay content requirements based on:

● The anticipated traffic loading. Desired aggregate properties are different depending upon the amount of traffic
loading. Traffic loading numbers are based on the anticipated traffic level on the design lane over a 20-year
period regardless of actual roadway design life (AASHTO, 2000b).

● Depth below the surface. Desired aggregate properties vary depending upon their intended use as it relates to depth
below the pavement surface.

These requirements are imposed on the final aggregate blend and not the individual aggregate sources.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

WSDOT Superpave Aggregate Consensus Requirements

WSDOT uses a 15-year traffic loading instead of the 20-year period listed in the
consensus requirement tables because WSDOT typically designs overlays for a
15-year design life.

Property Value

Coarse Aggregate Angularity

< 10 million ESALs 90/-*

≥ 10 million ESALs -/90*

Fine Aggregate Angularity 45 minimum

Flat and Elongated Particles


10% maximum**
(5:1 ratio or greater)

Clay Content (Sand Equivalent) 37% minimum

*The first number is a minimum requirement for one or more fractured


faces and the second number is a minimum requirement for two or more
fractured faces.

**For > 0.3 million ESALs

Coarse Aggregate Angularity

Coarse aggregate angularity is important to mix design because smooth, rounded aggregate particles do not interlock with one
another nearly as well as angular particles. This lack of interlock makes the resultant HMA more susceptible to rutting. Coarse
aggregate angularity can be determined by any number of test procedures that are designed to determine the percentage of
fractured faces. Table 5.5 lists Superpave requirements.

Table 5.5: Coarse Aggregate Angularity Requirements (from AASHTO, 2000b)

20-yr Traffic Loading Depth from Surface


(in millions of ESALs) ≤ 100 mm (4 inches) > 100 mm (4 inches)
< 0.3 55/- -/-
0.3 to < 3 75/- 50/-
3 to < 10 85/80 60/-
10 to < 30 95/90 80/75
≥ 30 100/100 100/100
Note: The first number is a minimum requirement for one or more fractured faces and the second
number is a minimum requirement for two or more fractured faces.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

Fine Aggregate Angularity

Fine aggregate angularity is important to mix design for the same reasons as coarse aggregate angularity - rut prevention. Fine
aggregate angularity is quantified by an indirect method often called the National Aggregate Association (NAA) flow test. This
test consists of pouring the fine aggregate into the top end of a cylinder and determining the amount of voids. The more voids, the
more angular the aggregate. Voids are determined by the following equation:

where: V = volume of cylinder (mL)

W = weight of loose fine aggregate to fill the cylinder (g)

Gsb = bulk specific gravity of the fine aggregate

Table 5.6 shows the Superpave recommended fine aggregate angularity.

Table 5.6: Fine Aggregate Angularity Requirements (from AASHTO, 2000b)

20-yr Traffic Loading Depth from Surface


(in millions of ESALs) ≤ 100 mm (4 inches) > 100 mm (4 inches)
< 0.3 - -
0.3 to < 3 40
3 to < 10 40
10 to < 30 45
≥ 30 45
Numbers shown represent the minimum uncompacted void content as a percentage of the total sample
volume.

The standard test for fine aggregate angularity is:

● AASHTO T 304: Uncompacted Void Content of Fine Aggregate

Flat or Elongated Particles

An excessive amount of flat or elongated aggregate particles can be detrimental to HMA. Flat/elongated particles tend to
breakdown during compaction (giving a different gradation than determined in mix design), decrease workability, and lie flat after
compaction (resulting in a mixture with low VMA) (Roberts et al., 1996). Flat or elongated particles are typically identified using
ASTM D 4791, Flat or Elongated Particles in Coarse Aggregate. Table 5.7 shows the Superpave recommended flat or elongated
particle requirements.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

Figure 5.7: Flat or Elongated Particle Requirements (from AASHTO, 2000b)

Maximum Percentage of
20-yr Traffic Loading
Particles with Length/Thickness
(in millions of ESALs)
>5
< 0.3 -
0.3 to < 3
3 to < 10
10
10 to < 30
≥ 30

Clay Content

The sand equivalent test measures the amount of clay content in an aggregate sample. If clay content is too high, clay could
preferentially adhere to the aggregate over the asphalt binder. This leads to a poor aggregate-asphalt binder bonding and possible
stripping. To prevent excessive clay content, Superpave uses the sand equivalent test requirements of Table 5.8.

Table 5.8: Sand Equivalent Requirements (from AASHTO, 2000b)

20-yr Traffic Loading


Minimum Sand Equivalent (%)
(in millions of ESALs)

< 0.3
40
0.3 to < 3
3 to < 10
45
10 to < 30

≥ 30 50

5.2.2 Asphalt Binder Evaluation


Superpave uses its own asphalt binder selection process, which is, of course, tied to the Superpave asphalt binder performance
grading (PG) system and its associated specifications. Superpave PG asphalt binders are selected based on the expected pavement
temperature extremes in the area of their intended use. Superpave software (or a stand-alone program such as LTPPBind) is used
to calculate these extremes and select the appropriate PG asphalt binder using one of the following three alternate methods
(Roberts et al., 1996):

1. Pavement temperature. The designer inputs the design pavement temperatures directly.

2. Air temperature. The designer inputs the local air temperatures, then the software converts them to pavement
temperatures.

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

3. Geographic area. The designer simply inputs the project location (i.e. state, county and city). From this, the software
retrieves climate conditions from a weather database and then converts air temperatures into pavement temperatures.

Once the design pavement temperatures are determined they can be matched to an appropriate PG asphalt binder.

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Specifications

WSDOT uses the Superpave asphalt binder performance grading system and specifications. Therefore, asphalt
binder must meet the requirements of AASHTO MP 1. WSDOT uses three baseline asphalt binder performance
grades based on geography. These baseline grades are typically used and then adjusted as necessary.

Previously, WSDOT had used the aged residue (AR) viscosity grading. The commonly used grade in this old
system was AR-4000W.

5.2.2.1 Design Pavement Temperature

The Superpave mix design method determines both a high and a low design pavement temperature. These temperatures are
determined as follows:

● High pavement temperature - based on the 7-day average high air temperature of the surrounding area.

● Low pavement temperature - based on the 1-day low air temperature of the surrounding area.

Using these temperatures as a starting point, Superpave then applies a reliability concept to determine the appropriate PG asphalt
binder. PG asphalt binders are specified in 6°C increments.

5.2.2.2 Design Pavement Temperature Adjustments

Design pavement temperature calculations are based on HMA pavements subjected to fast moving traffic (Roberts et al., 1996).
Specifically, the Dynamic Shear Rheometer (DSR) test is conducted at a rate of 10 radians per second, which corresponds to a
traffic speed of about 90 km/hr (55 mph) (Roberts et al., 1996). Pavements subject to significantly slower (or stopped) traffic such
as intersections, toll booth lines and bus stops should contain a stiffer asphalt binder than that which would be used for fast-
moving traffic. Superpave allows the high temperature grade to be increased by one grade for slow transient loads and by two
grades for stationary loads. Additionally, the high temperature grade should be increased by one grade for anticipated 20-year
loading in excess of 30 million ESALs. For pavements with multiple conditions that require grade increases only the largest grade
increase should be used. Therefore, for a pavement intended to experience slow loads (a potential one grade increase) and greater
than 30 million ESALs (a potential one grade increase), the asphalt binder high temperature grade should be increased by only one
grade. Table 5.9 shows two examples of design high temperature adjustments - often called "binder bumping".

Table 5.9: Examples of Design Pavement Temperature Adjustments


for Slow and Stationary Loads

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

Grade for Slow Transient Grade for 20-yr ESALs


Original Grade Loads Stationary Loads > 30 million
(increase 1 grade) (increase 2 grades) (increase 1 grade)
PG 58-22 PG 64-22 PG 70-22 PG 64-22
PG 70-22* PG 76-22 PG 82-22 PG 76-22
*the highest possible pavement temperature in North America is about 70°C but two more high temperature grades were
necessary to accommodate transient and stationary loads.

WSDOT Design Pavement Temperature Adjustments ("Binder Bumping")

WSDOT uses the following guidance when considering adjustments to the design high temperature of a PG asphalt binder
(sometimes referred to as "binder bumping"):

Situation Adjustment to High Temperature Grade

15-year design ESALs of 10 - 30 million Consider Increasing 1 Grade

15-year design ESALs ≥ 30 million Increase 1 Grade

Slow Traffic (10 - 45 mph) Increase 1 Grade

Standing Traffic (0 - 10 mph) Increase 2 Grades

Additionally, all mountain passes should use a base grade of PG 58-34.

5.2.3 Sample Preparation


The Superpave method, like other mix design methods, creates several trial aggregate-asphalt binder blends, each with a different
asphalt binder content. Then, by evaluating each trial blend's performance, an optimum asphalt binder content can be selected. In
order for this concept to work, the trial blends must contain a range of asphalt contents both above and below the optimum asphalt
content. Therefore, the first step in sample preparation is to estimate an optimum asphalt content. Trial blend asphalt contents are
then determined from this estimate.

The Superpave gyratory compactor (Figure 5.12) was developed to improve mix design's ability to simulate actual field
compaction particle orientation with laboratory equipment (Roberts, 1996).

Each sample is heated to the anticipated mixing temperature, aged for a short time (up to 4 hours) and compacted with the gyratory
compactor, a device that applies pressure to a sample through a hydraulically or mechanically operated load. Mixing and
compaction temperatures are chosen according to asphalt binder properties so that compaction occurs at the same viscosity level
for different mixes. Key parameters of the gyratory compactor are:

● Sample size = 150 mm (6-inch) diameter cylinder approximately 115 mm (4.5 inches) in height (corrections can be
made for different sample heights). Nnote that this sample size is larger than those used for the Hveem and Marshall
methods (see Figure 5.13).

● Load = Flat and circular with a diameter of 149.5 mm (5.89 inches) corresponding to an area of 175.5 cm2 (27.24 in2)

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

● Compaction pressure = Typically 600 kPa (87 psi)

● Number of blows = varies

● Simulation method = The load is applied to the sample top and covers almost the entire sample top area. The sample is
inclined at 1.25° and rotates at 30 revolutions per minute as the load is continuously applied. This helps achieve a
sample particle orientation that is somewhat like that achieved in the field after roller compaction.

Figure 5.12 (left): Gyratory Compactor

Figure 5.13 (below): Superpave Gyratory Compactor Sample


(left) vs. Hveem/Marshall Compactor Sample (right)

The Superpave gyratory compactor establishes three different gyration numbers:

1. Ninitial. The number of gyrations used as a measure of mixture compactability during construction. Mixes that compact
too quickly (air voids at Ninitial are too low) may be tender during construction and unstable when subjected to traffic.
Often, this is a good indication of aggregate quality - HMA with excess natural sand will frequently fail the Ninitial
requirement. A mixture designed for greater than or equal to 3 million ESALs with 4 percent air voids at Ndesign should
have at least 11 percent air voids at Ninitial.

2. Ndesign. This is the design number of gyrations required to produce a sample with the same density as that expected in
the field after the indicated amount of traffic. A mix with 4 percent air voids at Ndesign is desired in mix design.

3. Nmax. The number of gyrations required to produce a laboratory density that should never be exceeded in the field. If
the air voids at Nmax are too low, then the field mixture may compact too much under traffic resulting in excessively low
air voids and potential rutting. The air void content at Nmax should never be below 2 percent air voids.

Typically, samples are compacted to Ndesign to establish the optimum asphalt binder content and then additional samples are
compacted to Nmax as a check. Previously, samples were compacted to Nmax and then Ninitial and Ndesign were back calculated.
Table 5.10 lists the specified number of gyrations for Ninitial, Ndesign and Nmax while Table 5.11 shows the required densities as a

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

percentage of theoretical maximum density (TMD) for Ninitial, Ndesign and Nmax. Note that traffic loading numbers are based
on the anticipated traffic level on the design lane over a 20-year period regardless of actual roadway design life (AASHTO,
2001).

Table 5.10: Number of Gyrations for Ninitial, Ndesign and Nmax (from AASHTO, 2001)

20-yr Traffic Loading Number of Gyrations


(in millions of ESALs) Ninitial Ndesign Nmax
< 0.3 6 50 75
0.3 to < 3 7 75 115
3 to < 10* 8 (7) 100 (75) 160 (115)
10 to < 30 8 100 160

≥ 30 9 125 205
* When the estimated 20-year design traffic loading is between 3 and < 10
million ESALs, the agency may, at its discretion, specify
Ninitial = 7, Ndesign = 75 and Nmax = 115.

WSDOT Superpave Gyration Requirements

WSDOT gyration requirements are the same as those shown in Table 5.10.
WSDOT does not use the discretionary values between < 3 and 10 million ESALs.

Table 5.11: Required Densities for Ninitial, Ndesign and Nmax (from AASHTO, 2001)

20-yr Traffic Loading Required Density (as a percentage of TMD)


(in millions of ESALs) Ninitial Ndesign Nmax
< 0.3 ≤ 91.5
0.3 to < 3 ≤ 90.5
3 to < 10 96.0 ≤ 98.0
10 to < 30 ≤ 89.0
≥ 30

WSDOT Superpave Density Requirements

WSDOT Superpave density requirements are the same as those shown in


Table 5.11 except that WSDOT uses a 15-year Traffic Loading instead of a
20-year traffic loading.

The standard gyratory compactor sample preparation procedure is:

● AASHTO TP4: Preparing and Determining the Density of Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Specimens by Means of the
Superpave Gyratory Compactor

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5.5 HMA Mix Design - Superpave Method

5.2.4 Performance Tests


The original intent of the Superpave mix design method was to subject the various trial mix designs to a battery of performance
tests akin to what the Hveem method does with the stabilometer and cohesiometer, or the Marshall method does with the stability
and flow test. Currently, these performance tests, which constitute the mixture analysis portion of Superpave, are still under
development and review and have not yet been implemented. The most likely performance test, called the Simple Performance
Test (SPT) is a Confined Dynamic Modulus Test.

5.2.5 Density and Voids Analysis


All mix design methods use density and voids to determine basic HMA physical characteristics. Two different measures of
densities are typically taken:

1. Bulk specific gravity (Gmb) - often called "bulk density"

2. Theoretical maximum density (TMD, Gmm)

These densities are then used to calculate the volumetric parameters of the HMA. Measured void expressions are usually:

● Air voids (Va), sometimes called voids in the total mix (VTM)

● Voids in the mineral aggregate (VMA)

● Voids filled with asphalt (VFA)

Generally, these values must meet local or State criteria.

VMA and VFA must meet the values specified in Table 5.12. Note that traffic loading numbers are based on the anticipated
traffic level on the design lane over a 20-year period regardless of actual roadway design life (AASHTO, 2000b).

Table 5.12: Minimum VMA Requirements and VFA Range Requirements (from AASHTO, 2001)

Minimum VMA (percent)


20-yr Traffic Loading VFA Range
9.5 mm 12.5 mm 19.0 mm 25.0 mm 37.5 mm
(in millions of ESALs) (percent)
(0.375 inch) (0.5 inch) (0.75 inch) (1 inch) (1.5 inch)
< 0.3 70 - 80

0.3 to < 3 65 - 78
3 to < 10 15.0 14.0 13.0 12.0 11.0

10 to < 30 65 - 75

≥ 30

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WSDOT Minimum VMA Requirements and VFA Range Requirements

9.5 mm (0.375 inch) 12.5 mm (0.5 inch) 19 mm (0.75 inch) 25 mm (1.0 inch)
Superpave Superpave Superpave Superpave
Item
Min. Max. Min. Max. Min. Max. Min. Max.

VMA 15.0% - 14.0% - 13.0% - 12.0% -

VFA (based on 20-yr traffic


loading in millions of ESALs)

< 0.3 70 80 70 80 70 80 67 80

0.3 to < 3 65 78 65 78 65 78 65 78

≥3 73 76 65 75 65 75 65 75

5.2.6 Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content


The optimum asphalt binder content is selected as that asphalt binder content that results in 4 percent air voids at Ndesign. This
asphalt content then must meet several other requirements:

1. Air voids at Ninitial > 11 percent (for design ESALs ≥ 3 million). See Table 5.11 for specifics.

2. Air voids at Nmax > 2 percent. See Table 5.11 for specifics.

3. VMA above the minimum listed in Table 5.8.

4. VFA within the range listed in Table 5.8.

If requirements 1,2 or 3 are not met the mixture needs to be redesigned. If requirement 4 is not met but close, then asphalt binder
content can be slightly adjusted such that the air void content remains near 4 percent but VFA is within limits. This is because
VFA is a somewhat redundant term since it is a function of air voids and VMA (Roberts et al., 1996). The process is illustrated in
Figure 5.14 (numbers are chosen based on 20-year traffic loading of ≥ 3 million ESALs).

WSDOT Asphalt Binder Content Selection

In general, WSDOT selects the asphalt binder content that corresponds


to 4 percent air voids and meets minimum stability criteria.

Figure 5.14: Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content Example


(from Roberts et al., 1996)

5.2.7 Moisture Susceptibility Evaluation

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Moisture susceptibility testing is the only performance testing incorporated in the Superpave mix design procedure as of early
2002. The modified Lottman test is used for this purpose.

The typical moisture susceptibility test is:

● AASHTO T 283: Resistance of Compacted Bituminous Mixture to Moisture-Induced Damage.

5.3 Summary
The Superpave mix design method was developed to address specific mix design issues with the Hveem and Marshall methods.
Superpave mix design is a rational method that accounts for traffic loading and environmental conditions. Although not yet fully
complete (the performance tests have not been implemented), Superpave mix design produces quality HMA mixtures. As of 2000,
39 states have adopted, or are planning to adopt, Superpave as their mix design system (NHI, 2000).

The biggest differentiating aspects of the Superpave method are:

1. The use of formal aggregate evaluation procedures (consensus requirements).

2. The use of the PG asphalt binder grading system and its associated asphalt binder selection system.

3. The use of the gyratory compactor to simulate field compaction.

4. Traffic loading and environmental considerations.

5. Its volumetric approach to mix design.

Even given its many differences when compared to the Hveem or Marshall methods, Superpave still uses the same basic mix
design steps and still strives for an optimum asphalt binder content that results in 4 percent design air voids. Thus, the method is
quite different but the ultimate goals remain fairly consistent.

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

6 HMA - Testing
When aggregate and asphalt binder are combined to produce a Major Topics on this Page
homogenous substance, that substance, HMA, takes on new
physical properties that are related to but not identical to the 6.1 Mixture Characterization Tests
physical properties of its components. Mechanical laboratory tests
can be used to characterize the basic mixture or predict mixture 6.2 Performance Tests
properties. 6.3 Summary

6.1 Mixture Characterization Tests


Mixture characterization tests are used to describe fundamental mixture parameters such as density and asphalt binder
content. The three primary mixture characterization tests discussed here are:

● Bulk specific gravity

● Theoretical maximum specific gravity

● Asphalt content/gradation

6.1.1 Bulk Specific Gravity


Bulk specific gravity is essentially the density of a compacted (laboratory or field) HMA specimen. The bulk specific
gravity is a critical HMA characteristic because it is used to calculate most other HMA parameters including air
voids, VMA, and TMD. This reliance on bulk specific gravity is because mix design is based on volume, which is
indirectly determined using mass and specific gravity. Bulk specific gravity is calculated as:

There are several different ways to measure bulk specific gravity, all of which use slightly different ways to
determine specimen volume:

1. Water displacement methods. These methods, based on Archimedes Principle, calculate specimen volume
by weighing the specimen (1) in a water bath and (2) out of the water bath. The difference in weights can
then be used to calculate the weight of water displaced, which can be converted to a volume using the
specific gravity of water.

❍ Saturated Surface Dry (SSD). The most common method, calculates the specimen volume by

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

subtracting the mass of the specimen in water from the mass of a saturated surface dry (SSD)
specimen. SSD is defined as the specimen condition when the internal air voids are filled with
water and the surface (including air voids connected to the surface) is dry. This SSD condition
allows for internal air voids to be counted as part of the specimen volume and is achieved by
soaking the specimen in a water bath for 4 minutes then removing it and quickly blotting it dry
with a damp towel. One critical problem with this method is that if a specimen's air voids
are high, and thus potentially interconnected (for dense-graded HMA this occurs at about 8
to 10 percent air voids), water quickly drains out of them as the specimen is removed from
its water bath, which results in an erroneously low volume measurement and thus an
erroneously high bulk specific gravity.

❍ Paraffin. This method determines volume similarly to the water displacement method but uses a
melted paraffin wax instead of water to fill a specimen's internal air voids (see Figure 5.15).
Therefore, after the wax sets there is no possibility of it draining out and, theoretically, a more
accurate volume can be calculated. In practice, the paraffin is difficult to correctly apply and test
results are somewhat inconsistent.

Figure 5.15: Paraffin Coated Sample

❍ Parafilm. This method wraps the specimen in a thin paraffin film (see Figure 5.16) and then
weighs the specimen in and out of water. Since the specimen is completely wrapped when it is
submerged, no water can get into it and a more accurate volume measurement is theoretically
possible. However, in practice the paraffin film application is quite difficult and test results are
inconsistent.

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Figure 5.16: Parafilm Application

❍ CoreLok. This method calculates specimen volume like the parafilm method but uses a vacuum
chamber (see Figure 5.17) to shrink-wrap the specimen in a high-quality plastic bag (see Figure
5.18) rather than cover it in a paraffin film. This method has shown some promise in both
accuracy and precision.

Figure 5.17: CoreLok Vacuum Chamber Figure 5.18: CoreLok Specimen

2. Dimensional. This method, the simplest, calculates the volume based on height and diameter/width
measurements. Although it avoids problems associated with the SSD condition, it is often inaccurate
because it assumes a perfectly smooth surface thereby ignoring surface irregularities (i.e., the rough surface
texture of a typical specimen).

3. Gamma ray. The gamma ray method is based on the scattering and absorption properties of gamma rays

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

with matter. When a gamma ray source of primary energy in the


Compton range is placed near a material, and an energy selective
gamma ray detector is used for gamma ray counting, the scattered
and unscattered gamma rays with energies in the Compton range can
be counted exclusively. With proper calibration, the gamma ray count
is directly converted to the density or bulk specific gravity of the
material (Troxler, 2001). Figure 5.19 shows the Troxler device.

The standard bulk specific gravity test is:

● AASHTO T 166: Bulk Specific Gravity of Compacted Bituminous


Mixtures Using Saturated Surface-Dry Specimens (this is the SSD
water displacement method discussed previously)

Figure 5.19:Gamma Ray Device


6.1.2 Theoretical Maximum Specific Gravity
The theoretical maximum specific gravity (often referred to as theoretical maximum density and thus abbreviated
TMD) is the HMA density excluding air voids. Thus, theoretically, if all the air voids were eliminated from an HMA
sample, the combined density of the remaining aggregate and asphalt binder would be the TMD - often referred to as
Rice density after its inventor. TMD is a critical HMA characteristic because it is used to calculate percent air voids
in compacted HMA and provide target values for HMA compaction.

TMD is determined by taking a sample of oven-dry HMA in loose condition (versus compacted condition), weighing
it and then completely submerging it in a 25°C water bath. A vacuum is then applied for 15 minutes
(see Figure 5.20) to remove any entrapped air. The sample volume is then calculated by
subtracting its mass in water from its dry mass. The formula for calculating TMD is:

where: TMD = theoretical maximum density

A = mass of oven dry sample in air in grams

C = mass of water displaced by sample at 25°C in grams

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Figure 5.20: Containers Used to Agitate and Draw a Vacuum on Submerged TMD Samples

The standard TMD test is:

● AASHTO T 209 and ASTM D 2041: Theoretical Maximum Specific Gravity and Density of Bituminous
Paving Mixtures

6.1.3 Asphalt Binder Content and Gradation


The asphalt content and gradation test can be used for HMA quality control, acceptance or forensic analysis. The
three major test methods, solvent extraction, nuclear and ignition furnace are discussed here. Each method offers a
way to determine asphalt content and aggregate gradation from an HMA sample.

6.1.3.1 Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction, the oldest of the three test methods, uses a chemical solvent (trichloroethylene, 1,1,1-
trichloroethane or methylene chloride) to remove the asphalt binder from the aggregate. Typically, a loose HMA
sample is weighed and then a solvent is added to disintegrate the sample. The asphalt binder/solvent and aggregate
are then separated using a centrifuge (see Figures 5.21 and 5.22) and the aggregate is weighed. The initial and final
weights are compared and the difference is assumed to be the asphalt binder weight. Using this weight and the
weight of the original sample a percent asphalt binder by weight can be calculated. A gradation test can then be run
on the aggregate to determine gradation.

Today, the solvent extraction method is only sparingly used due to the hazardous nature of the specified solvents.

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Figure 5.21: Open Centrifuge Used in Figure 5.22: Secondary Centrifuge Used in Solvent
Solvent Extraction Extraction

The standard solvent extraction test is:

● AASHTO T 164 and ASTM D 2172: Quantitative Extraction of Bitumen from Bituminous Paving Mixtures

6.1.3.2 Nuclear Asphalt Content Gauge

A nuclear asphalt content gauge (see Figure 5.23) measures asphalt content by estimating the actual number of
hydrogen atoms contained within a sample. Similar in theory to a nuclear moisture content gauge used in
construction, the nuclear asphalt content gauge uses a neutron source (such as a 100 μCi specimen of Californium-
252) to emit high energy, “fast” neutrons, which then collide with various nuclei in the sample. Due to momentum
conservation, those neutrons that collide with hydrogen nuclei slow down much quicker than those that collide with
other, larger nuclei. The gauge detector counts only thermal (low energy) or “slow” neutrons thereby making the
detector count proportional to the number of hydrogen atoms in the sample. Since asphalt is a hydrocarbon, the more
hydrogen atoms, the more asphalt. A calibration factor is used to relate thermal neutron count to actual asphalt
content.

The nuclear asphalt content gauge offers a relatively quick (4 to 16 minutes depending upon desired accuracy)
method for measuring asphalt content. Since the gauge actually measures hydrogen nuclei and then correlates their
number with asphalt content, anything affecting the number of hydrogen nuclei in the sample can be a potential
source of error. Because water contains a significant amount of hydrogen (H2O), anything that adds moisture to the
sample (e.g., moisture in the aggregate pores) is a potential error source (Black, 1994).

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Figure 5.23: Nuclear Asphalt Content Gauge

6.1.3.3 Ignition Furnace

The ignition furnace test, developed by NCAT to replace the solvent extraction method, determines asphalt binder

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

content by burning off the asphalt binder of a loose HMA sample. Basically, an HMA sample is weighed and then
placed in a 538°C (1072°F) furnace (see Figure 5.24) and ignited. Once all the asphalt binder has burned off
(determined by a change in mass of less than 0.01 percent over 3 consecutive minutes), the remaining aggregate is
weighed. The initial and final weights are compared and the difference is assumed to be the asphalt binder weight.
Using this weight and the weight of the original sample, a percent asphalt binder by weight can be calculated. A
gradation test can then be run on the aggregate to determine gradation.

A correction factor must be used with the ignition furnace because a certain amount of aggregate fines may be burned
off during the ignition process. The correction factor is determined by placing a sample of known asphalt binder
content in the furnace and comparing the test result with the known asphalt binder content.

Based on a limited National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) study (Prowell, 2002), both traditional and
infrared ignition furnaces, if properly calibrated, should produce statistically similar asphalt contents and recovered
aggregate gradations.

The standard ignition furnace test is:

● AASHTO T 308: Determining the Asphalt Binder Content of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) by the Ignition
Method

6.2 Performance Tests


Performance tests are used to relate laboratory mix design to actual field performance. The Hveem (stabilometer) and
Marshall (stability and flow) mix design methods use only one or two basic performance tests. Superpave is intended
to use a better and more fundamental performance test. However, performance testing is the one area of Superpave
yet to be implemented. The performance tests discussed in this section are used by various researchers and
organizations to supplement existing Hveem and Marshall tests and as a substitute for the Superpave performance test
until it is finalized. This section focuses on laboratory tests; in-place field tests are discussed in Module 9, Pavement
Evaluation.

As with asphalt binder characterization, the challenge in HMA performance testing is to develop physical tests that
can satisfactorily characterize key HMA performance parameters and how these parameters change throughout the
life of a pavement. These key parameters are:

● Deformation resistance (rutting). A key performance parameter that can depend largely on HMA mix
design. Therefore, most performance test efforts are concentrated on deformation resistance prediction.

● Fatigue life. A key performance parameter that depends more on structural design and subgrade support
than mix design. Those HMA properties that can influence cracking are largely tested for in Superpave
asphalt binder physical tests. Therefore, there is generally less attention paid to developing fatigue life
performance tests.

● Tensile strength. Tensile strength can be related to HMA cracking - especially at low temperatures. Those

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HMA properties that can influence low temperature cracking are largely tested for in Superpave asphalt
binder physical tests. Therefore, there is generally less attention paid to developing tensile strength
performance tests.

● Stiffness. HMA's stress-strain relationship, as characterized by elastic or resilient modulus, is an important


characteristic. Although the elastic modulus of various HMA mix types is rather well-defined, tests can
determine how elastic and resilient modulus varies with temperature. Also, many deformation resistance
tests can also determine elastic or resilient modulus.

● Moisture susceptibility. Certain combinations of aggregate and asphalt binder can be susceptible to
moisture damage. Several deformation resistance and tensile strength tests can be used to evaluate the
moisture susceptibility of a HMA mixture.

6.2.1 Permanent Deformation (Rutting)


Research is ongoing into what type of test can most accurately predict HMA pavement deformation (rutting) There
methods currently in use can be broadly categorized as follows:

● Static creep tests. Apply a static load to a sample and measure how it recovers when the load is removed.
Although these tests measure a specimen's permanent deformation, test results generally do not correlate
will with actual in-service pavement rutting measurements.

● Repeated load tests. Apply a repeated load at a constant frequency to a test specimen for many repetitions
(often in excess of 1,000) and measure the specimen's recoverable strain and permanent deformation. Test
results correlate with in-service pavement rutting measurements better than static creep test results.

● Dynamic modulus tests. Apply a repeated load at varying frequencies to a test specimen over a relatively
short period of time and measure the specimen's recoverable strain and permanent deformation. Some
dynamic modulus tests are also able to measure the lag between the peak applied stress and the peak
resultant strain, which provides insight into a material's viscous properties. Test results correlate
reasonably well with in-service pavement rutting measurements but the test is somewhat involved and
difficult to run.

● Empirical tests. Traditional Hveem and Marshall mix design tests. Test results can correlate well with in-
service pavement rutting measurements but these tests do not measure any fundamental material parameter.

● Simulative tests. Laboratory wheel-tracking devices. Test results can correlate well with in-service
pavement rutting measurements but these tests do not measure any fundamental material parameter.

Each test has been used to successfully predict HMA permanent deformation characteristics however each test has
limitations related to equipment complexity, expense, time, variability and relation to fundamental material
parameters.

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6.2.1.1 Static Creep Tests

A static creep test (see Figure 5.25) is conducted by applying a static load to an HMA specimen and then measuring
the specimen's permanent deformation after unloading (see Figure 5.26). This observed permanent deformation is
then correlated with rutting potential. A large amount of permanent deformation would correlate to higher rutting
potential.

Creep tests have been widely used in the past because of their relative simplicity and availability of equipment.
However, static creep test results do not correlate well with actual in-service pavement rutting (Brown et al., 2001).

Figure 5.25: Unconfined Static Creep Test Figure 5.26: Static Creep Test Plot

Unconfined Static Creep Test


The most popular static creep test, the unconfined static creep test (also known as the simple creep test or uniaxial
creep test), is inexpensive and relatively easy. The test consists of a static axial stress of 100 kPa (14.5 psi) being
applied to a specimen for a period of 1 hour at a temperature of 40°C (104°F). The applied pressure is usually cannot
exceed 206.9 kPa (30 psi) and the test temperature usually cannot exceed 40°C (104°F) or the sample may fail
prematurely (Brown et al., 2001). Actual pavements are typically exposed to tire pressures of up to 828 kPa (120 psi)
and temperatures in excess of 60°C (140°F). Thus, the unconfined test does not closely simulate field conditions
(Brown et al., 2001).

Confined Static Creep Test


The confined static creep test (also known as the triaxial creep test) is similar to the unconfined static creep test in
procedure but uses a confining pressure of about 138 kPa (20 psi), which allows test conditions to more closely match
field conditions. Research suggests that the static confined creep test does a better job of predicting field performance
than the static unconfined creep test (Roberts et al., 1996).

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Diametral Static Creep Test


A diametral static creep test uses a typical HMA test specimen but turning it on its side so that it is loaded in its
diametral plane.

Some standard static creep tests are:

● AASHTO TP 9: Determining the Creep Compliance and Strength of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) Using the
Indirect Tensile Test Device

6.2.1.2 Repeated Load Tests

A repeated load test applies a repeated load of fixed magnitude and cycle duration to a cylindrical test specimen (see
Figure 5.27). The specimen's resilient modulus can be calculated using the its horizontal deformation and an assumed
Poisson's ratio. Cumulative permanent deformation as a function of the number of load cycles is recorded and can be
correlated to rutting potential. Tests can be run at different temperatures and varying loads. The load varies is
applied in a short pulse followed by a rest period. Repeated load tests are similar in concept to the triaxial resilient
modulus test for unconfined soils and aggregates.

Repeated load tests correlate better with actual in-service pavement rutting than static creep tests (Brown et al., 2001).

Figure 5.27: Repeated Load Test Schematic


Note: this example is simplified and shows only 6 load repetitions, normally there are conditioning repetitions followed
by a series of load repetitions during the test at a determined load level and possibly at different temperatures.

Most often, results from repeated load tests are reported using a cumulative axial strain curve like the one shown in
Figure 5.28. The flow number (FN) is the load cycles number at which tertiary flow begins. Tertiary flow can be
differentiated from secondary flow by a marked departure from the linear relationship between cumulative strain and
number of cycles in the secondary zone. It is assumed that in tertiary flow, the specimen's volume remains constant.
The flow number (FN) can be correlated with rutting potential.

Figure 5.28: Repeated Load Test Results Plot

Unconfined Repeated Load Test


The unconfined repeated load test is comparatively more simple to run than the unconfined test because it does not
involve any confining pressure or associated equipment. However, like the unconfined creep test, the allowable test
loads are significantly less that those experience by in-place pavement.

Confined Repeated Load Test


The confined repeated load test is more complex than the unconfined test due to the required confining pressure but,
like the confined creep test, the confining pressure allows test loads to be applied that more accurately reflect loads
experienced by in-place pavements.

Diametral Repeated Load Test


A diametral repeated load test uses a typical HMA test specimen but turning it on its side so that it is loaded in its

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diametral plane. Diametral testing has two critical shortcomings that hinder its ability to determine permanent
deformation characteristics (Brown et al., 2001):

1. The state of stress is non-uniform and strongly dependent on the shape of the specimen. At high
temperature or load, permanent deformation produces changes in the specimen shape that significantly
affect both the state of stress and the test measurements.

2. During the test, the only relatively uniform state of stress is tension along the vertical diameter of the
specimen. All other states of stress are distinctly nonuniform.

Shear Repeated Load Test


The Superpave shear tester (SST), developed for Superpave, can perform a repeated load test in shear. This test,
known as the repeated shear at constant height (RSCH) test, applies a repeated haversine (inverted cosine offset by
half its amplitude - a continuous haversine wave would look like a sine wave whose negative peak is at zero) shear
stress to an axially loaded specimen and records axial and shear deformation as well as axial and shear load. RSCH
data have been shown to have high variability (Brown et al., 2001).

Some standard repeated load tests are:

● AASHTO TP 7: Determining the Permanent Deformation and Fatigue Cracking Characteristics of Hot Mix
Asphalt (HMA) Using the Superpave Shear Tester (SST) - Procedure F

● AASHTO TP 31: Determining the Resilient Modulus of Bituminous Mixtures by Indirect Tension

● ASTM D 4123: Indirect Tension Test for Resilient Modulus of Bituminous Mixtures

6.2.1.3 Dynamic Modulus Tests

Dynamic modulus tests apply a repeated axial cyclic load of fixed magnitude and cycle duration to a test specimen
(see Figure 5.25). Test specimens can be tested at different temperatures and three different loading frequencies
(commonly 1, 4 and 16 Hz). The applied load varies and is usually applied in a haversine wave (inverted cosine
offset by half its amplitude - a continuous haversine wave would look like a sine wave whose negative peak is at
zero). Figure 5.29 is a schematic of a typical dynamic modulus test.

Figure 5.29: Dynamic Modulus Test Schematic

Dynamic modulus tests differ from the repeated load tests in their loading cycles and frequencies. While repeated
load tests apply the same load several thousand times at the same frequency, dynamic modulus tests apply a load over
a range of frequencies (usually 1, 4 and 16 Hz) for 30 to 45 seconds (Brown et al., 2001). The dynamic modulus test
is more difficult to perform than the repeated load test since a much more accurate deformation measuring system is
necessary.

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The dynamic modulus test measures a specimen's stress-strain relationship under a continuous sinusoidal loading.
For linear (stress-strain ratio is independent of the loading stress applied) viscoelastic materials this relationship is
defined by a complex number called the “complex modulus” (E*) (Witczak et al., 2002) as seen in the equation
below:

where: E* = complex modulus

|E*| = dynamic modulus

φ = phase angle - the angle by which εo lags behind σo.


For a pure elastic material, φ = 0, and the complex modulus (E*) is equal
to the absolute value, or dynamic modulus. For pure viscous materials, φ
= 90°.

i = imaginary number

The absolute value of the complex modulus, |E*|, is defined as the dynamic modulus and is calculated as follows
(Witczak et al., 2002):

where: |E*| = dynamic modulus

σo = peak stress amplitude


(applied load / sample cross sectional area)

εo = peak amplitude of recoverable axial strain = ∆ L/L. Either measured


directly with strain gauges or calculated from displacements
measured with linear variable displacement transducers (LVDTs).

L = gauge length over which the sample deformation is measured

∆L = the recoverable portion of the change in sample length due to the


applied load

The dynamic modulus test can be advantageous because it can measure also measure a specimen's phase angle (φ),
which is the lag between peak stress and peak recoverable strain. The complex modulus, E*, is actually the
summation of two components: (1) the storage or elastic modulus component and (2) the loss or viscous modulus. It
is an indicator of the viscous properties of the material being evaluated.

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Unconfined Dynamic Modulus Test


The unconfined dynamic modulus test is performed by applying an axial haversine load to a cylindrical test
specimen. Although the recommend specimen size for the test is 100 mm (4 inch) in diameter by 200 mm (8 inches)
high, it may be possible to use smaller specimen heights with success (Brown et al., 2001). Unconfined dynamic
modulus tests do not permit the determination of phase angle (φ).

Confined Dynamic Modulus Test


The confined dynamic modulus test is basically the unconfined test with an applied lateral confining pressure.
Confined dynamic modulus tests allow for the determination of phase angle (φ). Although the recommend specimen
size for the dynamic modulus test is 100 mm (4 inch) in diameter by 200 mm (8 inches) high, it may be possible to
use smaller specimen heights with success (Brown et al., 2001). Figures 5.30 and 5.31 show a prototype Superpave
Simple Performance Test (SPT). The SPT will provide a performance test for the Superpave mix design method.

Figure 5.30: A Prototype Superpave Simple


Figure 5.31: The SPT is a Confined Dynamic Modulus Test
Performance Test (SPT)

Shear Dynamic Modulus Test


The shear dynamic modulus test is known as the frequency sweep at constant height (FSCH) test. Shear dynamic
modulus equations are the same as those discussed above although traditionally the term E* is replace by G* to
denote shear dynamic modulus and σo and ε o are replaced by τ0 and γ0 to denote shear stress and axial strain
respectively. The shear dynamic modulus can be accomplished by two different testing apparatuses:

1. Superpave shear tester (SST). The SST FSCH test is a is a constant strain test (as opposed to a constant
stress test). Test specimens are 150 mm (6 inches) in diameter and 50 mm (2 inches) tall (see Figure 5.32).
To conduct the test the HMA sample is essentially glued to two plates (see Figures 5.33 through 5.35) and
then inserted into the SST. Horizontal strain is applied at a range of frequencies (from 10 to 0.1 Hz) using
a haversine loading pattern, while the specimen height is maintained constant by compressing or pulling it
vertically as required. The SST produces a constant strain of about 100 microstrain (Witczak et al., 2002).
The SST is quite expensive and requires a highly trained operator to run thus making it impractical for field
use and necessitating further development.

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

2. Field shear tester (FST). The FST FSCH test is a is a constant stress test (as opposed to a constant strain
test). The FST is a derivation of the SST and is meant to be less expensive and easier to use. For instance,
rather than compressing or pulling the sample to maintain a constant height like the SST, the FST maintains
constant specimen height using rigid spacers attached to the specimen ends. Further, the FST shears the
specimen in the diametral plane.

Figure 5.32: Superpave Shear Tester (SST) Figure 5.33: Loading Chamber

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

Figure 5.34: Prepared Sample Figure 5.35: Prepared Sample (left) and Sample After Test
(middle and right).

Standard complex modulus tests are:

● Unconfined dynamic modulus. ASTM D 3497: Dynamic Modulus of Asphalt Mixtures

● Shear dynamic modulus. AASHTO TP 7: Determining the Permanent Deformation and Fatigue Cracking
Characteristics of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) Using the Simple Shear Test (SST) Device, Procedure E -
Frequency Sweep Test at Constant Height.

6.2.1.4 Empirical Tests

The Hveem stabilometer and cohesiometer and Marshall stability and flow tests are empirical tests used to quantify
an HMA's potential for permanent deformation. They are discussed in their mix design sections.

6.2.1.5 Simulative Tests - Laboratory Wheel-Tracking Devices

Laboratory wheel-tracking devices (see Video 5.1) measure rutting by rolling a small loaded wheel device repeatedly
across a prepared HMA specimen. Rutting in the test specimen is then correlated to actual in-service pavement
rutting. Laboratory wheel-tracking devices can also be used to make moisture susceptibility and stripping predictions
by comparing dry and wet test results Some of these devices are relatively new and some have been used for upwards
of 15 years like the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chausées (LCPC) wheel tracker - also known as the French
Rutting Tester (FRT). Cooley et al. (2000) reviewed U.S. loaded wheel testers and found:

● Results obtained from the wheel tracking devices correlate reasonably well to actual field performance
when the in-service loading and environmental conditions of that location are considered.

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

● Wheel tracking devices can reasonably differentiate between binder performance grades.

● Wheel tracking devices, when properly correlated to a specific site’s traffic and environmental conditions,
have the potential to allow the user agency the option of a pass/fail or “go/no go” criteria. The ability of the
wheel tracking devices to adequately predict the magnitude of the rutting for a particular pavement has not
been determined at this time.

● A device with the capability of conducting wheel-tracking tests in both air and in a submerged state, will
offer the user agency the most options of evaluating their materials.

In other words, wheel tracking devices have potential for rut and other measurements but the individual user must be
careful to establish laboratory conditions (e.g., load, number of wheel passes, temperature) that produce consistent
and accurate correlations with field performance.

Video 5.1: Asphalt Pavement Analyzer - A Wheel Tracking Device

6.2.2 Fatigue Life


HMA fatigue properties are important because one of the principal modes of HMA pavement failure is fatigue-related
cracking, called fatigue cracking. Therefore, an accurate prediction of HMA fatigue properties would be useful in
predicting overall pavement life.

6.2.2.1 Flexural Test

One of the typical ways of estimating in-place HMA fatigue properties is the flexural test (see Figures 5.36 and
5.37). The flexural test determines the fatigue life of a small HMA beam specimen (380 mm long x 50 mm thick x 63
mm wide) by subjecting it to repeated flexural bending until failure (see Figure 5.38). The beam specimen is sawed
from either laboratory or field compacted HMA. Results are usually plotted to show cycles to failure vs. applied
stress or strain.

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

Figure 5.36 (left): Flexural Testing Device

Figure 5.37 (right): Flexural Testing Device

Figure 5.38: Flexural Test Schematic (click picture to animate)

The standard fatigue test is:

● AASHTO TP 8: Determining the Fatigue Life of Compacted Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Subjected to
Repeated Flexural Bending

6.2.4 Tensile Strength


HMA tensile strength is important because it is a good indicator of cracking potential. A high tensile strain at failure
indicates that a particular HMA can tolerate higher strains before failing, which means it is more likely to resist
cracking than an HMA with a low tensile strain at failure. Additionally, measuring tensile strength before and after
water conditioning can give some indication of moisture susceptibility. If the water-conditioned tensile strength is
relatively high compared to the dry tensile strength then the HMA can be assumed reasonably moisture resistant.
There are two tests typically used to measure HMA tensile strength:

● Indirect tension test

● Thermal cracking test

6.2.4.1 Indirect Tension Test

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

The indirect tensile test uses the same testing device as the diametral repeated load test and applies a constant rate of
vertical deformation until failure. It is quite similar to the splitting tension test used for PCC.

Standard indirect tension test is a part of the following test:

● AASHTO TP 9: Determining the Creep Compliance and Strength of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) Using the
Indirect Tensile Test Device

6.2.4.2 Thermal Cracking Test

The thermal cracking test determines the tensile strength and temperature at fracture of an HMA sample by measuring
the tensile load in a specimen which is cooled at a constant rate while being restrained from contraction. The test is
terminated when the sample fails by cracking.

The standard thermal cracking test is:

● AASHTO TP 10: Method for Thermal Stress Restrained Specimen Tensile Strength

6.2.5 Stiffness Tests


Stiffness tests are used to determine a HMA's elastic or resilient modulus. Although these values are fairly well-
defined for many different mix types, these tests are still used to verify values, determine values in forensic testing or
determine values for new mixtures or at different temperatures. Many repeated load tests can be used to determine
resilient modulus as well.

Of particular note, temperature has a profound effect on HMA stiffness. Table 5.13 shows some typical HMA
resilient modulus values at various temperatures. Figure 5.39 shows that HMA resilient modulus changes by a factor
of about 100 for a 56 °C (100 °F) temperature change for "typical" dense-graded HMA mixtures. This can affect
HMA performance parameters such as rutting and shoving. This is one reason why the Superpave PG binder grading
system accounts for expected service temperatures when specifying an asphalt binder.

Table 5.13: Typical Resilient Modulus Values for HMA Pavement Materials

Resilient Modulus (MR)


Material
MPa psi

HMA at 32°F (0 °C) 14,000 2,000,000

HMA at 70°F (21 °C) 3,500 500,000

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

HMA at 120°F (49 °C) 150 20,000

Compare to other materials

Figure 5.39: General Stiffness-Temperature Relationship for Dense-Graded Asphalt Concrete

6.2.6 Moisture Susceptibility


Numerous tests have been used to evaluate moisture susceptibility of HMA; however, no test to date has attained any
wide acceptance (Roberts et al., 1996). In fact, just about any performance test that can be conducted on a wet or
submerged sample can be used to evaluate the effect of moisture on HMA by comparing wet and dry sample test
results. Superpave recommends the modified Lottman Test as the current most appropriate test and therefore this test

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5.6 HMA Mix Design - Testing

will be described.

The modified Lottman test basically compares the indirect tensile strength test results of a dry sample and a sample
exposed to water/freezing/thawing. The water sample is subjected to vacuum saturation, an optional freeze cycle,
followed by a freeze and a warm-water cycle before being tested for indirect tensile strength (AASHTO, 2000a). Test
results are reported as a tensile strength ratio:

where: TSR = tensile strength ratio

S1 = average dry sample tensile strength

S2 = average conditioned sample tensile strength

Generally a minimum TSR of 0.70 is recommended for this method, which should be applied to field-produced
rather than laboratory-produced samples (Roberts et al., 1996). For laboratory samples produced in accordance with
AASHTO TP 4 (Method for Preparing and Determining the Density of Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Specimens by
Means of the Superpave Gyratory Compactor), AASHTO MP 2 (Specification for Superpave Volumetric Mix
Design) specifies a minimum TSR of 0.80.

WSDOT Moisture Susceptibility

WSDOT uses a minimum TSR = 0.80 and uses the


optional freeze cycle.

In addition to the modified Lottman test, some state agencies use the Hamburg Wheel Tracking Device (HWTD) to
test for moisture susceptibility since the test can be carried out in a warm water bath.

The standard modified Lottman test is:

● AASHTO T 283: Resistance of Compacted Bituminous Mixture to Moisture-Induced Damage

6.3 Summary
All pavements can be described by their fundamental characteristics and performance. Thus, HMA tests are an
integral part of mix design because they provide (1) basic HMA characteristics and (2) the means to relate mix design
to intended performance. Without performance tests, mix design has no proven relationship with performance
(Roberts et al., 1996). The Hveem and Marshall mix design methods use two basic performance tests (Hveem
stabilometer and the Marshall stability and flow), but these tests are empirical and limited in their predictive ability.

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New and better performance tests are still being developed and evaluated. In fact, Superpave has yet to implement
performance testing because of this. The performance tests presented in this section are those that are most
commonly used in the industry today, although it is quite likely that these tests will change in the future as better
methods and equipment are developed.

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

7 PCC - Fundamentals
PCC consists of three basic ingredients: aggregate, Major Topics on this Page
water and portland cement. According to the Portland
Cement Association (PCA, 1988): 7.1 Concepts

7.2 Variables
"The objective in designing concrete mixtures is
to determine the most economical and practical 7.3 Objectives
combination of readily available materials to
produce a concrete that will satisfy the 7.4 Basic Procedure
performance requirements under particular 7.5 Summary
conditions of use."

PCC mix design has evolved chiefly through experience and well-documented empirical relationships.
Normally, the mix design procedure involves two basic steps:

1. Mix proportioning. This step uses the desired PCC properties as inputs then determines the
required materials and proportions based on a combination of empirical relationships and local
experience. There are many different PCC proportioning methods of varying complexity that
work reasonably well.

2. Mix testing. Trial mixes are then evaluated and characterized by subjecting them to several
laboratory tests. Although these characterizations are not comprehensive, they can give the
mix designer a good understanding of how a particular mix will perform in the field during
construction and under subsequent traffic loading.

This section covers mix design fundamentals common to all PCC mix design methods. First, two basic
concepts (mix design as a simulation and weight-volume terms and relationships) are discussed to set a
framework for subsequent discussion. Second, the variables that mix design may manipulate are
presented. Third, the fundamental objectives of mix design are presented. Finally, a generic mix design
procedure is presented.

7.1 Concepts
Before discussing any mix design specifics, it is important to understand a couple of basic mix design
concepts:

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

● Mix design is a simulation

● Weight-volume terms and relationships

7.1.1 Mix Design is a Simulation


First, and foremost, mix design is a laboratory simulation. Mix design is meant to simulate actual PCC
manufacturing, construction and performance. Then, from this simulation we can predict (with
reasonable certainty) what type of mix design is best for the particular application in question and how it
will perform.

Being a simulation, mix design has its limitations. Specifically, there are substantial differences
between laboratory and field conditions. For instance, mix testing is generally done on small samples
that are cured in carefully controlled conditions. These values are then used to draw conclusions about
how a mix will behave under field conditions. Despite such limitations mix design procedures can
provide a cost effective and reasonably accurate simulation that is useful in making mix design
decisions.

7.1.2 Weight-Volume Terms and Relationships


The more accurate mix design methods are volumetric in nature. That is, they seek to combine the PCC
constituents on a volume basis (as opposed to a weight basis). Volume measurements are usually made
indirectly by determining a material's weight and specific gravity and then calculating its volume.
Therefore, mix design involves several key aggregate specific gravity measurements.

7.2 Variables
PCC is a complex material formed from some very basic ingredients. When used in pavement, this
material has several desired performance characteristics - some of which are in direct conflict with one
another. PCC pavements must resist deformation, crack in a controlled manner, be durable over time,
resist water damage, provide a good tractive surface, and yet be inexpensive, readily made and easily
placed. In order to meet these demands, mix design can manipulate the following variables:

1. Aggregate. Items such as type (source), amount, gradation and size, toughness and abrasion

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

resistance, durability and soundness, shape and texture as well as cleanliness can be measured,
judged and altered to some degree.

2. Portland cement. Items such as type, amount, fineness, soundness, hydration rate and
additives can be measured, judged and altered to some degree.

3. Water. Typically the volume and cleanliness of water are of concern. Specifically, the
volume of water in relation to the volume of portland cement, called the water-cement ratio, is
of primary concern. Usually expressed as a decimal (e.g., 0.35), the water-cement ratio has a
major effect on PCC strength and durability.

4. Admixtures. Items added to PCC other than portland cement, water and aggregate.
Admixtures can be added before, during or after mixing and are used to alter basic PCC
properties such as air content, water-cement ratio, workability, set time, bonding ability,
coloring and strength.

7.3 Objectives
By manipulating the mixture variables of aggregate, portland cement, water and admixtures, mix design
seeks to achieve the following qualities in the final PCC product (Mindess and Young, 1981):

1. Strength. PCC should be strong enough to support expected traffic loading. In pavement
applications, flexural strength is typically more important than compressive strength (although
both are important) since the controlling PCC slab stresses are caused by bending and not
compression. In its most basic sense, strength is related to the degree to which the portland
cement has hydrated. This degree of hydration is, in turn, related to one or more of the
following:

❍ Water-cement ratio. The strength of PCC is most directly related to its capillary
porosity. The capillary porosity of a properly compacted PCC is determined by its
water-cement ratio (Mindess and Young, 1981). Thus, the water-cement ratio is an
easily measurable PCC property that gives a good estimate of capillary porosity and
thus, strength. The lower the water-cement ratio, the fewer capillary pores and thus,
the higher the strength. Specifications typically include a maximum water-cement
ratio as a strength control measure.

❍ Entrained air (air voids). At a constant water-cement ratio, as the amount of

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

entrained air (by volume of the total mixture) increases, the voids-cement ratio
(voids = air + water) decreases. This generally results in a strength reduction.
However, air-entrained PCC can have a lower water-cement ratio than non-air-
entrained PCC and still provide adequate workability. Thus, the strength reduction
associated with a higher air content can be offset by using a lower water-cement
ratio. For moderate-strength concrete (as is used in rigid pavements) each
percentile of entrained air can reduce the compressive strength by about 2 - 6
percent (PCA, 1988).

❍ Cement properties. Properties of the portland cement such as fineness and chemical
composition can affect strength and the rate of strength gain. Typically, the type of
portland cement is specified in order to control its properties.

2. Controlled shrinkage cracking. Shrinkage cracking should occur in a controlled manner.


Although construction techniques such as joints and reinforcing steel help control shrinkage
cracking, some mix design elements influence the amount of PCC shrinkage. Chiefly, the
amount of moisture and the rate of its use/loss will affect shrinkage and shrinkage cracking.
Therefore, factors such as high water-cement ratios and the use of high early strength portland
cement types and admixtures can result in excessive and/or uncontrolled shrinkage cracking.

3. Durability. PCC should not suffer excessive damage due to chemical or physical attacks
during its service life. As opposed to HMA durability, which is mainly concerned with aging
effects, PCC durability is mainly concerned with specific chemical and environmental
conditions that can potentially degrade PCC performance. Durability is related to:

❍ Porosity (water-cement ratio). As the porosity of PCC decreases it becomes more


impermeable. Permeability determines a PCC's susceptibility to any number of
durability problems because it controls the rate and entry of moisture that may
contain aggressive chemicals and the movement of water during heating or freezing
(Mindess and Young, 1981). The water-cement ratio is the single most determining
factor in a PCC's porosity. The higher the water-cement ratio, the higher the
porosity. In order to limit PCC porosity, many agencies specify a maximum
allowable water-cement ratio.

❍ Entrained Air (Air voids). Related to porosity, entrained air is important in


controlling the effects of freeze-thaw cycles. Upon freezing, water expands by
about 9 percent. Therefore, if the small capillaries within PCC are more than 91
percent filled with water, freezing will cause hydraulic pressures that may rupture
the surrounding PCC. Additionally, freezing water will attract other unfrozen water

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

through osmosis (PCA, 1988). Entrained air voids act as expansion chambers for
freezing and migrating water and thus, specifying a minimum entrained air content
can minimize freeze-thaw damage.

❍ Chemical environment. Certain chemicals such as sulfates, acids, bases and


chloride salts are especially damaging to PCC. Mix design can mitigate their
damaging effects through such things as choosing a more resistant cement type.

4. Skid resistance. PCC placed as a surface course should provide sufficient friction when in
contact with a vehicle's tire. In mix design, low skid resistance is generally related to
aggregate characteristics such as texture, shape, size and resistance to polish. Smooth,
rounded or polish-susceptible aggregates are less skid resistant. Tests for particle shape and
texture can identify problem aggregate sources. These sources can be avoided, or at a
minimum, aggregate with good surface and abrasion characteristics can be blended in to
provide better overall characteristics.

5. Workability. PCC must be capable of being placed, compacted and finished with reasonable
effort. The slump test, a relative measurement of concrete consistency, is the most
common method used to quantify workability. Workability is generally related to one
or more of the following:

❍ Water content. Water works as a lubricant between the particles within PCC.
Therefore, low water content reduces this lubrication and makes for a less workable
mix. Note that a higher water content is generally good for workability but
generally bad for strength and durability, and may cause segregation and bleeding.
Where necessary, workability should be improved by redesigning the mix to
increase the paste content (water + portland cement) rather than by simply adding
more water or fine material (Mindess and Young, 1981).

❍ Aggregate proportion. Large amounts of aggregate in relation to the cement paste


will decrease workability. Essentially, if the aggregate portion is large then the
corresponding water and cement portions must be small. Thus, the same problems
and remedies for "water content" above apply.

❍ Aggregate texture, shape and size. Flat, elongated or angular particles tend to
interlock rather than slip by one another making placement and compaction more
difficult. Tests for particle shape and texture can identify possible workability
problems.

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

❍ Aggregate gradation. Gradations deficient in fines make for less workable mixes.
In general, fine aggregates act as lubricating "ball bearings" in the mix. Gradation
specifications are used to ensure acceptable aggregate gradation.

❍ Aggregate porosity. Highly porous aggregate will absorb a high amount of water
leaving less available for lubrication. Thus, mix design usually corrects for the
anticipated amount of absorbed water by the aggregate.

❍ Air content. Air also works as a lubricant between aggregate particles. Therefore,
low air content reduces this lubrication and makes for a less workable mix. A
volume of air-entrained PCC requires less water than an equal volume of non-air-
entrained PCC of the same slump and maximum aggregate size (PCA, 1988).

❍ Cement properties. Portland cements with higher amounts of C3S and C3A will
hydrate quicker and lose workability faster.

Knowing these objectives, the challenge in mix design is then to develop a relatively simple procedure
with a minimal amount of tests and samples that will produce a mix with all the qualities discussed
above.

7.4 Basic Procedure


In order to meet the requirements established by the preceding desirable PCC properties, all mix design
processes involve four basic processes:

1. Aggregate selection. No matter the specific method, the overall mix design procedure begins
with evaluation and selection of aggregate and asphalt binder sources. Different authorities
specify different methods of aggregate acceptance. Typically, a battery of aggregate physical
tests is run periodically on each particular aggregate source. Then, for each mix design,
gradation and size requirements are checked. Normally, aggregate from more than one source
is required to meet gradation requirements.

2. Portland cement selection. Typically, a type and amount of portland cement is selected based
on past experience and empirical relationships with such factors as compressive strength (at a
given age), water-cement ratio and chemical susceptibility.

3. Mix proportioning. A PCC mixture can be proportioned using experience or a generic


procedure (such as ACI 211.1).

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5.7 PCC Mix Design - Fundamentals

4. Testing. Run laboratory tests on properly prepared samples to determine key mixture
characteristics. It is important to understand that these tests are not comprehensive nor are
they exact reproductions of actual field conditions.

The selected PCC mixture should be the one that, based on test results, best satisfies the mix design
objectives.

7.5 Summary
PCC mix design is a laboratory process used to determine appropriate proportions and types of
aggregate, portland cement, water and admixtures that will produce desired PCC properties. Typical
desired properties in PCC for pavement are adequate strength, controlled shrinkage, durability, skid
resistance and workability. Although mix design has many limitations it had proven to be a cost-
effective simulation that is able to provide crucial information that can be used to formulate a high-
performance PCC.

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

8 PCC - ACI Method


The American Concrete Institute (ACI) mix design method is Major Topics on this Page
but one of many basic concrete mix design methods available
today. This section summarizes the ACI absolute volume 8.1 Slump
method because it is widely accepted in the U.S. and
continually updated by the ACI. Keep in mind that this 8.2 Maximum Aggregate Size
summary and most methods designated as "mix design" 8.3 Mixing Water and Air Content Estimation
methods are really just mixture proportioning methods. Mix
design includes trial mixture proportioning (covered here) 8.4 Water-Cement Ratio
plus performance tests.
8.5 Cement Content

WSDOT PCC Mix Design Methods 8.6 Coarse Aggregate Content

8.7 any
Contractors provide their own PCC mix designs for WSDOT jobs. Therefore, Fine Aggregate Content
mix design method can be used as longs as specifications are met. 8.8 Adjustments for Aggregate Moisture

8.9 Summary
This section is a general outline of the ACI proportioning
method with specific emphasis on PCC for pavements. It emphasizes general concepts and rationale over
specific procedures. Typical procedures are available in the following documents:

● The American Concrete Institute's (ACI) Standard Practice for Selecting Proportions for Normal,
Heavyweight, and Mass Concrete (ACI 211.1-91) as found in their ACI Manual of Concrete Practice
2000, Part 1: Materials and General Properties of Concrete.

● The Portland Cement Association's (PCA) Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, 14th edition
(2002) or any earlier edition.

The standard ACI mix design procedure can be divided up into 8 basic steps:

1. Choice of slump

2. Maximum aggregate size selection

3. Mixing water and air content selection

4. Water-cement ratio

5. Cement content

6. Coarse aggregate content

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

7. Fine aggregate content

8. Adjustments for aggregate moisture

Typical WSDOT PCC Specifications

WSDOT specifies ACI 211.1 as a guide to determine mix proportions. Additionally, some of the WSDOT 2002 Standard
Specifications for Road, Bridge and Municipal Construction (M 41-10) specified properties are shown in the table below.

Some WSDOT Specified PCC Properties

Property Specification Limits1

Mix Design Related


(these properties are used in mix design and are NOT subject to the WSDOT statistical acceptance plan)

Minimum of 650 psi at 14 days based on a statistical analysis of 5


Flexural Strength beams. Although this involves a statistical analysis, it is separate from
the WSDOT statistical acceptance plan.

None explicitly set. In slipform paving, slab edges that slump down
Slump
below 0.25 inches of their plan height shall be corrected.

Maximum Aggregate Size Varies, but is often 1.5 inches

Mixing Water Content None

Water-Cement Ratio shall not exceed 0.44

565 lb/yd3 minimum cementitious material (weight of portland cement


Cement Content
+ fly ash)

Class F, maximum CaO content of 15 percent by weight, limited to 25


Fly Ash
percent by weight of total cementitious material

Acceptance Testing Related


(these properties are used for acceptance testing of PCC pavements and are thus subject to the WSDOT statistical
acceptance plan)

Not less than 1000 lbs. less than that established in the mix design as
the arithmetic mean of the five sets of 28 day compressive strength
Compressive Strength
cylinders (cast at the same time as the flexural strength beams used to
pre-qualify the mix design), or 3000 psi, whichever is higher.

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Air Content 3.0 - 7.0 percent as determined by statistical analysis

1Many of these specification limits are for use in a statistical analysis of multiple random samples. Therefore, the limits
listed above are not absolute (i.e., all samples must be above or below the specified limit); rather, they should be used in
conjunction with WSDOT statistical acceptance specifications.

8.1 Slump
The choice of slump is actually a choice of mix workability. Workability can be described as a combination of
several different, but related, PCC properties related to its rheology:

● Ease of mixing

● Ease of placing

● Ease of compaction

● Ease of finishing

Generally, mixes of the stiffest consistency that can still be placed adequately should be used (ACI, 2000).
Typically slump is specified, but Table 5.14 shows general slump ranges for specific applications. Slump
specifications are different for fixed form paving and slip form paving. Table 5.15 shows typical and extreme
state DOT slump ranges.

Table 5.14: Slump Ranges for Specific Applications (after ACI, 2000)

Slump
Type of Construction
(mm) (inches)

Reinforced foundation walls and footings 25 - 75 1-3

Plain footings, caissons and substructure


25 - 75 1-3
walls

Beams and reinforced walls 25 - 100 1-4

Building columns 25 - 100 1-4

Pavements and slabs 25 - 75 1-3

Mass concrete 25 - 50 1-2

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Table 5.15: Typical State DOT Slump Specifications (data taken from ACPA, 2001)

Fixed Form Slip Form


Specifications
(mm) (inches) (mm) (inches)

Typical 25 - 75 1-3 0 - 75 0-3

as low as 25 as low as 1 as low as 0 as low as 0


Extremes
as high as 175 as high as 7 as high as 125 as high as 5

8.2 Maximum Aggregate Size


Maximum aggregate size will affect such PCC parameters as amount of cement paste, workability and
strength. In general, ACI recommends that maximum aggregate size be limited to 1/3 of the slab depth and 3/4
of the minimum clear space between reinforcing bars. Aggregate larger than these dimensions may be difficult
to consolidate and compact resulting in a honeycombed structure or large air pockets. Pavement PCC
maximum aggregate sizes are on the order of 25 mm (1 inch) to 37.5 mm (1.5 inches) (ACPA, 2001).

8.3 Mixing Water and Air Content Estimation


Slump is dependent upon nominal maximum aggregate size, particle shape, aggregate gradation, PCC
temperature, the amount of entrained air and certain chemical admixtures. It is not generally affected by the
amount of cementitious material. Therefore, ACI provides a table relating nominal maximum aggregate size,
air entrainment and desired slump to the desired mixing water quantity. Table 5.16 is a partial reproduction of
ACI Table 6.3.3 (keep in mind that pavement PCC is almost always air-entrained so air-entrained values are
most appropriate). Typically, state agencies specify between about 4 and 8 percent air by total volume (based
on data from ACPA, 2001).

Note that the use of water-reducing and/or set-controlling admixtures can substantially reduce the amount of
mixing water required to achieve a given slump.

Table 5.16: Approximate Mixing Water and Air Content Requirements


for Different Slumps and Maximum Aggregate Sizes (adapted from ACI, 2000)

Mixing Water Quantity in kg/m3 (lb/yd3) for the listed Nominal Maximum Aggregate Size

Slump 9.5 mm 12.5 mm 19 mm 25 mm 37.5 mm 50 mm 75 mm 100 mm


(0.375 in.) (0.5 in.) (0.75 in.) (1 in.) (1.5 in.) (2 in.) (3 in.) (4 in.)

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

Non-Air-Entrained PCC

25 - 50 207 199 190 179 166 154 130 113


(1 - 2) (350) (335) (315) (300) (275) (260) (220) (190)
75 - 100 228 216 205 193 181 169 145 124
(3 - 4) (385) (365) (340) (325) (300) (285) (245) (210)
150 - 175 243 228 216 202 190 178 160
-
(6 - 7) (410) (385) (360) (340) (315) (300) (270)

Typical entrapped air


3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0.3 0.2
(percent)

Air-Entrained PCC

25 - 50 181 175 168 160 148 142 122 107


(1 - 2) (305) (295) (280) (270) (250) (240) (205) (180)
75 - 100 202 193 184 175 165 157 133 119
(3 - 4) (340) (325) (305) (295) (275) (265) (225) (200)
150 - 175 216 205 197 184 174 166 154
-
(6 - 7) (365) (345) (325) (310) (290) (280) (260)
Recommended Air Content (percent)
Mild Exposure 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0
Moderate Exposure 6.0 5.5 5.0 4.5 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0
Severe Exposure 7.5 7.0 6.0 6.0 5.5 5.0 4.5 4.0

8.4 Water-Cement Ratio


The water-cement ratio is a convenient measurement whose value is well correlated with PCC strength and
durability. In general, lower water-cement ratios produce stronger, more durable PCC. If natural pozzolans are
used in the mix (such as fly ash) then the ratio becomes a water-cementitious material ratio (cementitious
material = portland cement + pozzolonic material). The ACI method bases the water-cement ratio selection on
desired compressive strength and then calculates the required cement content based on the selected water-
cement ratio. Table 5.17 is a general estimate of 28-day compressive strength vs. water-cement ratio (or water-
cementitious ratio). Values in this table tend to be conservative (ACI, 2000). Most state DOTs tend to set a
maximum water-cement ratio between 0.40 - 0.50 (based on data from ACPA, 2001).

Table 5.17: Water-Cement Ratio and Compressive Strength Relationship


(after ACI, 2000)

28-Day Compressive Water-cement ratio by weight


Strength in MPa (psi) Non-Air-Entrained Air-Entrained

41.4 (6000) 0.41 -

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

34.5 (5000) 0.48 0.40

27.6 (4000) 0.57 0.48

20.7 (3000) 0.68 0.59

13.8 (2000) 0.82 0.74

8.5 Cement Content


Cement content is determined by comparing the following two items:

● The calculated amount based on the selected mixing water content and water-cement ratio.

● The specified minimum cement content, if applicable. Most state DOTs specify minimum cement
contents in the range of 300 - 360 kg/m3 (500 - 600 lbs/yd3).

An older practice used to be to specify the cement content in terms of the number of 94 lb. sacks of portland
cement per cubic yard of PCC. This resulted in specifications such as a "6 sack mix" or a "5 sack mix". While
these specifications are quite logical to a small contractor or individual who buys portland cement in 94 lb.
sacks, they do not have much meaning to the typical pavement contractor or batching plant who buys portland
cement in bulk. As such, specifying cement content by the number of sacks should be avoided.

8.6 Coarse Aggregate Content


Selection of coarse aggregate content is empirically based on mixture workability. ACI recommends the
percentage (by unit volume) of coarse aggregate based on nominal maximum aggregate size and fine aggregate
fineness modulus. This recommendation is based on empirical relationships to produce PCC with a degree of
workability suitable for usual reinforced construction (ACI, 2000). Since pavement PCC should, in general, be
more stiff and less workable, ACI allows increasing their recommended values by up to about 10 percent.
Table 5.18 shows ACI recommended values.

Table 5.18: Volume of Coarse Aggregate per Unit Volume of PCC


for Different Fine aggregate Fineness Moduli for Pavement PCC (after ACI, 2000)

Nominal Maximum Aggregate Fine Aggregate Fineness Modulus


Size 2.40 2.60 2.80 3.00

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

9.5 mm (0.375 inches) 0.50 0.48 0.46 0.44

12.5 mm (0.5 inches) 0.59 0.57 0.55 0.53

19 mm (0.75 inches) 0.66 0.64 0.62 0.60

25 mm (1 inches) 0.71 0.69 0.67 0.65

37.5 mm (1.5 inches) 0.75 0.73 0.71 0.69

50 mm (2 inches) 0.78 0.76 0.74 0.72

Notes:

1. These values can be increased by up to about 10 percent for pavement applications.

2. Coarse aggregate volumes are based on oven-dry-rodded weights obtained in accordance


with ASTM C 29.

8.7 Fine Aggregate Content


At this point, all other constituent volumes have been specified (water, portland cement, air and coarse
aggregate). Thus, the fine aggregate volume is just the remaining volume:

Unit volume (1 m3 or yd3)


- Volume of mixing water
- Volume of air
- Volume of portland cement
- Volume of coarse aggregate
Volume of fine aggregate

8.8 Adjustments for Aggregate Moisture


Unlike HMA, PCC batching does not require dried aggregate. Therefore, aggregate moisture content must be
accounted for. Aggregate moisture affects the following parameters:

1. Aggregate weights. Aggregate volumes are calculated based on oven dry unit weights, but aggregate
is typically batched based on actual weight. Therefore, any moisture in the aggregate will increase
its weight and stockpiled aggregates almost always contain some moisture. Without correcting for

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5.8 PCC Mix Design - ACI Method

this, the batched aggregate volumes will be incorrect.

2. Amount of mixing water. If the batched aggregate is anything but saturated surface dry it will absorb
water (if oven dry or air dry) or give up water (if wet) to the cement paste. This causes a net change
in the amount of water available in the mix and must be compensated for by adjusting the amount of
mixing water added.

8.9 Summary
The ACI mix design method is one of many available methods. It has been presented here to give a general
idea of the types of calculations and decisions that are typical in PCC mix design.

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

9 PCC - Testing
When aggregate, water and portland cement paste are combined to produce Major Topics on this Page
a homogenous substance, that substance takes on new physical properties
that are related to but not identical to the physical properties of its 9.1 Workability
components. Thus, several common mechanical laboratory tests are used to
characterize the basic mixture and predict mixture properties. Unlike 9.2 Strength
HMA, it is difficult to draw a clean distinction between characterization 9.3 Durability
tests and performance tests. Typically, PCC is characterized by slump, air
content and strength. However, these characteristics can also be used as 9.4 Early Age Behavior
performance predictors for workability, durability and strength
respectively. Therefore, this section does not distinguish between mixture 9.5 Summary
characterization tests and performance tests.

Whereas HMA tests are often scale simulations of actual field conditions (such as rut tests), PCC tests are directed more at
the basic physical properties of PCC as a material.

The challenge in PCC testing is to develop physical tests that can satisfactorily characterize key PCC performance parameters
and the nature of their change throughout the life of a pavement. These key parameters are:

● Workability. This parameter, typically measured by slump, is indicative of fresh concrete rheology.

● Strength. This parameter is related to a rigid pavement's ability to support loads. Flexural strength is commonly
used in design and then correlated to compressive strength for use in field tests.

● Durability. Several tests can be conducted to determine susceptibility to freeze-thaw or chemical attack damage.

● Early age behavior. HIPERPAV, a software program, can be used to predict early-age PCC behavior.

Although there are many different PCC tests, only those typically used on pavement PCC are discussed in this Guide.

9.1 Workability

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

Workability is a general term used to describe the basic rheological


aspects of fresh PCC (e.g., PCC in a wet, plastic state). Workability is
instrumental in the proper placement and compaction of fresh PCC. In
general, excessively stiff (or harsh) fresh PCC can be difficult to place
and compact resulting in large void spaces and a honeycomb-like
structure that can quickly fracture and disintegrate. This is especially
true in and around reinforcing steel. Pavement PCC, especially that used
for slip form paving, is usually quite stiff and must be vibrated into
place. Excessively fluid fresh PCC is easy to place but may not be able
to hold the coarse aggregate in place resulting in segregation and
bleeding.

Slump Test
The slump test (see Figure 5.40) is the most common test for
workability. The slump test involves hand placing an amount of fresh
concrete into a metal cone and then measuring the distance the fresh PCC
falls (or "slumps") when the cone is removed.

The slump test is meant to be a basic comparative test. Variation in


slump measurement on the same PCC can be as much as 50 mm (2
inches). The American Concrete Pavement Association (2001) says the
following about slump:

"The bottom line is that the slump test is useful only as a comparative tool. If changes in slump are
greater than 2 inches on a given job, one can conclude that there was likely a change in the mix.
Variation in slump less than 2 inches is more than likely from a combination of the testing and typical
concrete variability. No conclusion can be drawn from slump tests to the quality of the material.
Strength measurements must be used to indicate quality."

The standard slump test is:

● AASHTO T 119, ASTM C 143: Slump of Hydraulic Cement Concrete

9.2 Strength
Strength is probably the most well-known PCC performance parameter. Compressive and tensile strength are fundamental to
any building material in order to properly proportion and design structural items made from that material. Although PCC is
most often known for its compressive strength, it is typically its tensile strength (or more exactly, its flexural strength) that
governs its use in rigid pavements. However, given the popularity and relative ease of the compressive test, both tests are
typically used in pavement applications. Strength concepts covered are:

● Compressive strength

● Tensile strength (including splitting tension tests and flexural strength tests)

A Note on Age vs. Strength


Since PCC continues to gain strength over time, it is important to specify a particular age at which a certain strength is

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

measured. Most often, 28-day strength is specified although other strengths such as 1-day, 7-day and 90-day strength can be
used as well. For pavement applications, strength at a particular age is quite important because typically, rigid pavements
cannot be opened to traffic until the PCC reaches a certain strength. Curing methods can play a major role in PCC strength
gain. Often, PCC maturity is used to estimate strength at a particular time.

9.2.1 Compressive Strength


PCC is most often known by its compressive strength. This is because PCC is much stronger in compression than it is in
tension and thus, is often used in compression. The ACI Concrete Code gives some rough rules-of-thumb for converting
compressive strength to tensile and flexural strength:

where: = compressive strength

Compressive strength is most often measured by forming 150 mm diameter, 300 mm long (6 inch diameter, 12 inches long)
test cylinders and then breaking them at a specified age (typically 28 days) although it can also be performed on specimens of
different sizes and origins (such as field cores or the remnants of a flexural test).

Some state agencies use compressive strength as a field quality assurance measurement of a flexural strength specification.
Flexural strength is first correlated to compressive strength based on mix design test results. Then, using this correlation,
quality assurance field tests can use the easier and more widely known compressive strength test, which can be converted
back to flexural strength through the previously determined correlations.

WSDOT Use of PCC Compressive Strength

WSDOT correlates PCC compressive strength to flexural strength and then uses
compressive strength in acceptance testing.

Most pavement PCC has a compressive strength between 20.68 and 34.47 MPa (3000 and 5000 psi) (ACPA,
2001). High-strength PCC (usually defined as PCC with a compressive strength of at least 41.37 MPa (6000
psi)) has been designed for compressive strengths of over 137.90 MPa (20,000 psi) for use in building
applications.

The standard compression tests are:

● AASHTO T 22 and ASTM C 39: Compressive Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens

● AASHTO T 140 and ASTM C 116: Compressive Strength of Concrete Using Portions of Beams Broken in Flexure

9.2.2 Tensile Strength


Although PCC is not nearly as strong in tension as it is in compression, PCC tensile strength is important in pavement
applications. Tensile strength is typically used as a PCC performance measure for pavements because it best simulates

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

tensile stresses at the bottom of the PCC surface course as it is subjected to loading. These stresses are typically the
controlling structural design stresses. Tensile strength is difficult to directly measure because of secondary stresses induced
by gripping a specimen so that it may be pulled apart. Therefore, tensile stresses are typically measured indirectly by one of
two means: a splitting tension test or a flexural strength test.

9.2.2.1 Splitting Tension Test

A splitting tension test uses a standard 150 mm diameter, 300 mm long (6-inch diameter, 12" long) test cylinder laid on its
side. A diametral compressive load is then applied along the length of the cylinder until it fails (see Figure 5.41). Because
PCC is much weaker in tension than compression, the cylinder will typically fail due to horizontal tension and not vertical
compression.

Figure 5.41: Split Tension Test (Click picture to animate)

The standard split tension test is:

● AASHTO T 198 and ASTM C 496: Splitting Tensile Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens

9.2.2.2 Flexural Strength Tests

Flexural strength (sometimes called the modulus of rupture) is typically used in PCC mix design for pavements because it
best simulates slab flexural stresses as they are subjected to loading. Because the flexural test involves bending a beam
specimen, there will be some compression involved, and thus flexural strength will generally be slightly higher than tensile
strength measured using a split tension test. Usually, mix designs are typically tested for both flexural and compressive
strength; they must meet a minimum flexural strength, which is then correlated to measured compressive strengths so that
compressive strength (an easier test) can be used in field acceptance tests.

There are two basic flexural tests: the third-point loading (Figure 5.42) and the center-point loading (Figure 5.43). For
maximum aggregate sizes less than 50 mm (2 inches), each test is conducted on a 152 x 152 x 508 mm (6 x 6 x 20 inch) PCC
beam (see Figures 5.44 and 5.45). The beam is supported on each end and loaded at its third points (for the third-point
loading test) or at the middle (for the center-point loading test) until failure. The modulus of rupture is then calculated and
reported as the flexural strength. The third-point loading test is preferred because, ideally, in the middle third of the span the
sample is subjected to pure moment with zero shear (Mindess and Young, 1981). In the center-point test, the area of eventual
failure contains not only moment induced stresses but also shear stress and unknown areas of stress concentration. In general,
the center-point loading test gives results about 15 percent higher (ACPA, 2001).

Figure 5.44: Flexural Test Beam

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

Figure 5.42: Third-Point Loading Figure 5.43: Center-Point Loading


Flexural Testing Device Flexural Testing Device

Figure 5.45: Casting Flexural Beam Test


Specimens in the Field

The standard flexural strength test is:

● AASHTO T 97 and ASTM C 78: Flexural Strength of Concrete (Using Simple Beam with Third-Point
Loading)

● AASHTO T 177 and ASTM C 293: Flexural Strength of Concrete (Using Simple Beam with Center-
Point Loading)

9.3 Durability
Durability is a measure of how PCC performs over time. Durability is one factor in PCC pavement performance. Typically,
the two major factors that affect PCC pavement durability are freeze-thaw cycles and chemical attack. Fortunately, steps can
be taken to mitigate these factors and tests are available to determine PCC vulnerability to them.

9.3.1 Freeze-Thaw
Freeze-thaw resistance is important in order to avoid excessive cracking, scaling and crumbling. As water freezes it increases
in volume by about 9 percent. Thus, as the water in PCC freezes and expands it exerts osmotic and hydraulic pressures on
capillaries and pores within the cement paste. If these pressures exceed the tensile strength of the cement paste, the paste will
dilate and rupture (PCA, 1988). As this process repeats itself over a number of freeze-thaw cycles, the result can be cracking,

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

scaling and crumbling of the PCC mass.

In the late 1930s it was discovered that purposefully increasing PCC air content (called "air entrainment") mitigates the
effects of freeze-thaw damage. This occurs because the greater air content provides extra void space within the PCC into
which the freezing water can expand. Thus, hydraulic and osmotic pressures on the cement paste are minimized, which
effectively prevents dilation and rupture. The total air content of the mortar (cement paste + fine aggregate) required to give
optimum freeze-thaw protection is about 9 percent, which results in an air content by volume of PCC of between 4 and 8
percent (Mindess and Young, 1981). In addition to the total volume, the distribution of air within the cement paste is also
important for freeze-thaw resistance. A properly air-entrained PCC contains a uniform dispersion of tiny bubbles throughout
the cement paste. As these bubbles get larger and farther apart, it becomes more difficult for the freezing water to migrate
through the cement paste into them. In general, the smaller the bubbles and more uniform their distribution, the better.
Actions such as excessive vibration or pumping can adversely affect both total air volume and air distribution. Today, most
PCC for exterior use (this includes pavements) is entrained with air to mitigate freeze-thaw effects.

9.3.1.1 Freeze-Thaw Test

Laboratory testing of PCC freeze-thaw resistance involves subjecting a specimen to a series of rapid freeze-thaw cycles, then
reporting a durability factor. First, specimens are created such that they are between 75 - 125 mm (3 - 5 inches) in width and
depth or diameter and between 280 - 400 mm (11 - 16 inches) long (see Figure 5.46). Specimens are then subjected to a
number of freeze-thaw cycles in the following manner (AASHTO, 2000a):

1. The temperature is alternately lowered from 4.4°C (40°


F) down to -17.8°C (0°F) and then raised back to 4.4°C
(40°F).

2. Each of these cycles should take anywhere from 2 to 4


hours.

3. The specimen can be thawed in either water or air (the


procedures are slightly different).

4. Remove the specimen from the freeze-thaw apparatus at


intervals not to exceed 36 cycles and determine its
dynamic modulus of elasticity and length.
Figure 5.46: Beam Specimens for Use in Freeze-Thaw
5. Cycles are continued until either of the following occur:
Tests

❍ The specimen has been subjected to 300 freeze-thaw cycles.

❍ The specimen dynamic modulus of elasticity reaches 60 percent of its initial value.

❍ (Optional) the specimen has experienced a 0.10 percent increase in length.

The durability factor is then calculated as:

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

where: DF = durability factor

P = relative dynamic modulus of elasticity at N cycles (in percent)

N = number of cycles at which P reaches the specified minimum value for


discontinuing the test (usually 60 percent) or the specified number of cycles at
which the test is to be terminated (usually 300 cycles), which ever is less

M = specified number of cycles at which the exposure is to be terminated (usually 300)

Typically, a DF < 40 indicates a PCC that may have poor freeze-thaw resistance, while a DF > 60 indicates a PCC that has
good freeze-thaw resistance (Mindess and Young, 1981). However, there are several limitations to this test. First, it uses 2 -
4 hour freeze-thaw cycles, which are much more rapid than will be experienced in the field. ASTM C 671 solves this issue
by using only one freeze-thaw cycle every 2 weeks. Second, even though these cycles are rapid when compared to field
conditions, the test can take between 600 and 1200 hours to complete (if the full 300 cycles are tested).

Standard freeze-thaw tests are:

● AASHTO T 161 and ASTM C 666: Resistance of Concrete to Rapid Freezing and Thawing

● AASHTO T 121: Mass Per Cubic Meter (Cubic Foot), Yield, and Air Content (Gravimetric) of Concrete

● ASTM C 671: Critical Dilation of Concrete Specimens Subjected to Freezing

9.3.1.2 Air Content Tests

Although it is actually the air content within the mortar (cement paste + fine
aggregate) that is of concern, cement paste air content is usually what is
measured. This air content can be measured in several ways, the most
common of which is the pressure method. Using the pressure method, a
sample of fresh PCC is placed in a pressure vessel (see Figure 5.47). The
remaining volume of the vessel is filled with water and then the vessel is
pressurized. The water level is read once, then the vessel is depressurized and
the water level is read again. Finally, using Boyle's law (The principle that at a
constant temperature the volume of a confined ideal gas varies inversely with
its pressure) the difference in water levels (which corresponds to a volume) is
converted into a volume of air.

Standard air content tests are:

● AASHTO T 152 and ASTM C 231: Air Content of Freshly Mixed


Concrete by the Pressure Method

● AASHTO T 196 and ASTM C 173: Air Content of Freshly Mixed


Concrete by the Volumetric Method

● AASHTO T 199: Air Content of Freshly Mixed Concrete by the

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

Chace Indicator Figure 5.47: Pressure Vessel for


Measuring Air Content
● ASTM C 138: Air Content (Gravimetric), Unit Weight and Yield of
Concrete

9.3.2 Chemical Attack


PCC can deteriorate over time due to its interaction with various chemicals. Chlorides are of the greatest concern for
pavement PCC because they are often contained in deicing compounds. Chloride ions can corrode steel components within
PCC such as reinforcing steel or dowel bars. One standard test used for pavement PCC (AASHTO T 259) is described here.
In this test, multiple slabs of at least 75 mm (3 inches) thick and 300 mm (12 inches) square are formed then abraded using
grinding or sandblasting in order to simulate vehicular wear. Small dams are then built around all but one slab (designated
the control slab) and subjected to continuous ponding of a 3 percent sodium chloride (NaCl) solution to a depth of 13 mm
(0.5 inches) for 90 days. After 90 days the NaCl solution is removed and the slabs are wire brushed to remove any salt
buildup. Slab samples are then taken and measured for chloride ion content at two depths:

● 1.6 mm (0.0625 inches) - 13 mm (0.5 inches)

● 13 mm (0.5 inches) to 25 mm (1.0 inches)

These chloride ion concentrations are compared to the average chloride ion concentration of the control slab to determine the
amount and extent of chloride ion penetration. Critical chloride ion concentrations for reinforcing steel corrosion are on the
order of 0.6 - 1.2 kg Cl-/m3 (1.0 - 2.0 lb Cl-/yd3) of PCC.

Although sulfate attack is a PCC concern, it is generally not an issue in PCC pavement.

Some standard tests for chemical attack are:

● AASHTO T 259: Resistance of Concrete to Chloride Ion Penetration

● AASHTO T 277 and ASTM C 1202: Electrical Indication of Concrete's Ability to Resist Chloride Ion Penetration

● AASHTO T 303 and ASTM C 227: Accelerated Detection of Potentially Deleterious Expansion of Mortar Bars
Due to Alkali-Silica Reaction

9.4 Early Age Behavior (from Transtec, 2002)


The service life of PCC pavements is highly dependent upon their early-age behavior. Rigid pavements are significantly
affected by temperature and moisture changes during the first 72 hours following placement. Stresses in the PCC build up
primarily due to the combined effects of curling and warping and restraint to axial movements at the slab-subbase interface.
These stresses may be of sufficient magnitude to cause cracking because PCC strength is relatively low during this early-age
period (see Figures 5.48 and 5.49). Pavement stresses during this time are extremely important to long term pavement
performance.

The FHWA and the Transtec Group, Inc. have produced a software package, termed HIgh PERformance PAVing

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

(HIPERPAV), that is capable of assessing the influence of mix design, structural design, construction methods and
environmental conditions on the early-age behavior of rigid pavements. HIPERPAV was originally produced for an FHWA
study of fast-track rigid pavements. The goal of this project was to develop high early strength rigid pavements that could be
rapidly opened to traffic upon construction completion. What this project discovered was that rapid-setting high early
strength PCC created a new set of concerns including: uncontrolled slab cracking, spalling and excessive plastic shrinkage.
HIPERPAV addresses these issues and others by modeling early-age PCC pavement performance (see Figure 5.50).

Figure 5.48: PCC Early Age Crack in Palmdale, CA Figure 5.49: Close-Up of Early Age Crack

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5.9 PCC Mix Design - Testing

Figure 5.50: One Output of HIPERPAV Showing Early Age Tensile Strength vs. Time
(screen shot courtesy of Transtec Group, Inc.)

9.5 Summary
All pavements can be described by their fundamental characteristics and performance. Thus, PCC tests are an integral part of
mix design because they can describe PCC characteristics and provide the means to relate mix design to intended
performance. Typically, PCC performance tests concentrate on basic physical properties such as strength and durability.
Early age behavior modeling can also be beneficial in predicting early strength gain, excessive plastic shrinkage, cracking and
spalling. PCC performance modeling provides the crucial link between laboratory mix proportioning and field performance.

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6.1 Structural Design - Introduction

1 Introduction
The goal of structural design is to determine the number, material composition and thickness of the
different layers within a pavement structure required to accommodate a given loading regime. This
includes the surface course as well as any underlying base or subbase layers. This module is focused on
the structural design of new pavement. Structural design for rehabilitation is covered in Module 10,
Section 3 (flexible pavements) and Section 5 (rigid pavements).

Design Life
Pavements are typically designed for a specified "design life". Design life (or "design period") is the
time from original construction to a terminal condition for a pavement structure. Structural design is
carried out so that the pavement structure is sufficient to withstand the traffic loading encountered over
the pavement's design life. It is recognized that intermittent maintenance and rehabilitation efforts may
be needed to preserve a pavement's surface quality and ensure that the structure lasts through the design
life.

For flexible pavements, structural design is mainly concerned with determining appropriate layer
thickness and composition. Calculations are chiefly concerned with traffic loading stresses; other
environmentally related stresses (such as temperature) are accounted for in mix design asphalt binder
selection. The two principal methods of flexible pavement structural design in use today, empirical and
mechanistic-empirical, are covered.

For rigid pavements, structural design is mainly concerned with determining the appropriate slab
thickness based on traffic loads and underlying material properties, and joint design. This is done by
considering a variety of stresses which affect rigid pavement performance: curling (temperature
stresses), warping (moisture stresses), wheel load and shrinkage/expansion. The two principal methods
of rigid pavement structural design in use today, empirical and mechanistic-empirical, are covered.

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6.1 Structural Design - Introduction

WSDOT Flexible Pavement Design Tables

Regular versions: Metric Version English Version

Low ESAL (LE) versions: Metric LE Version English LE Version

These tables provide an overview of typical flexible pavement layer thicknesses used by WSDOT for
design.

WSDOT Rigid Pavement Design Tables

Metric Version English Version


These tables provide an overview of typical rigid pavement slab thicknesses used by WSDOT for design.

WSDOT Structural Design Policy

Specific WSDOT structural design policy is contained in the WSDOT Pavement Guide,
Volume 1. In general, WSDOT uses the following structural design procedures:

● New pavements (including reconstructed pavements).

❍ Flexible. The AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures


(1986 or 1993 version). This is an empirical procedure.

❍ Rigid. The AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures


(1986 or 1993 version). This is an empirical procedure.

● Rehabilitation.

❍ HMA overlays. Either the mechanistic-empirical procedure used in


the EVERPAVE computer program (for use with flexible
pavements) or the empirical procedure described in the AASHTO
Guide for Design of Pavement Structures.

❍ PCC overlays. The AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement


Structures for unbonded PCC overlays. This is an empirical

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6.1 Structural Design - Introduction

procedure. Generally, only unbonded PCC overlays will be used if


a PCC surfacing is selected. Bonded PCC overlays are not
considered as a structural solution and have a higher than acceptable
risk of premature failure.

Overall, this section is only meant to provide a brief overview of the different structural design
techniques as well as their assumptions, inputs and outputs. Detailed analysis of the design methods
presented here can be found in:

● Empirical Method: The 1993 AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures.

● Mechanistic Method: The 2002 AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures, the
WSDOT Pavement Guide (1998), and other state design procedures.

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6.2 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

2 Flexible - Pavement Response


How a pavement responds to applied stresses Major Topics on this Page
determines how it will behave structurally. Stresses
and the resultant pavement response are the combined 2.1 Stress
result of loading, environment, subgrade and pavement
material characteristics. This section presents the 2.2 Deflection
typical stresses and stress characteristics experienced
by a flexible pavement structure under load.

There are a variety of ways to calculate or at least account for these stresses in design. The empirical
approach uses the AASHO Road Test results to correlate measurable parameters (such as subgrade
resilient modulus) and derived indices (such as the structural number and pavement serviceability index)
to pavement performance. The mechanistic-empirical approach relates calculated pavement stresses to
empirically derived failure conditions.

2.1 Stress
The stresses that occur in a flexible pavement under load are quite complex. Although rigid pavement
stresses have been routinely calculated since the 1920s, routine calculation of flexible pavement stresses
is a more recent development. First, two-dimensional layered elastic programs offered desktop
computers the ability to calculate these stresses. More recently, three-dimensional finite element
programs have allowed more exact and detailed calculations.

2.1.1 Two-Dimensional Layered Elastic Model


Using a two-dimensional layered elastic model, the basic relationships between layer stiffness and stress
for a two-layer flexible pavement structure is shown in Figure 6.1. In reality, stress distributions are
more complex, however the basic relationships hold true. This additional complexity is further
elaborated on in Section 2.2.2, Three-Dimensional Finite Elements Modeling below.

Figure 6.1: Typical Two-Layer Flexible Pavement Stresses as Calculated by a Two-Dimensional Linear Elastic
Model. Click the yellow boxes to view different stresses. Note that "E" refers to a layer's stiffness.

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6.2 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

2.1.2 Three-Dimensional Finite Elements Model


Because of the complex nature, a finite elements model is needed to get a good approximation of how a
flexible pavement responds to loading. The complex stress and strains for a two-layer flexible
pavement structure are shown graphically in Figure 6.2 using a three-dimensional finite elements model.

Figure 6.2: Typical Two-Layer Flexible Pavement Stresses as Calculated by EverFlex (Wu, 2001), a Three-
Dimensional Finite Elements Program. Click the yellow boxes to view different stresses. Note that "E" refers
to a layer's stiffness.

2.2 Deflection
HMA pavements are often described as "flexible" because they deflect under load. Figure 6.3 shows
schematically how pavements deflect under load. FWDs can be used to accurately determine deflection
characteristics of in-service pavements.

Figure 6.3: Schematic Showing Deflections for Different Pavement Thicknesses. The same HMA material
characteristics are assumed for each graph - only the thickness varies.

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

3 Flexible - Empirical Method


An empirical approach is one which is based on the results Major Topics on this Page
of experiments or experience. Generally, it requires a
3.1 Empirical Equation
number of observations to be made in order to ascertain the
relationships between input variables and outcomes. It is 3.2 An Empirical Equation Design Utility
not necessary to firmly establish the scientific basis for the
relationships between variables and outcomes as long as the limitations with such an approach are
recognized. Specifically, it is not prudent to use empirically derived relationships to describe phenomena
that occur outside the range of the original data used to develop the relationship. In some cases, it is much
more expedient to rely on experience than to quantify the exact cause and effect of certain phenomena.

Many pavement design procedures use an empirical approach. This means that the relationship between
design inputs (e.g., loads, materials, layer configurations and environment) and pavement failure were
arrived at through experience, experimentation or a combination of both. Empirical design methods can
range from extremely simple to quite complex. The simplest approaches specify pavement structural designs
based on what has worked in the past. For example, local governments often specify city streets to be
designed using a given cross section (e.g., 100 mm (4 inches) of HMA over 150 mm (6 inches) of crushed
stone) because they have found that this cross section has produced adequate pavements in the past. More
complex approaches are usually based on empirical equations derived from experimentation. Some of this
experimentation can be quite elaborate. For example, the empirical equations used in the 1993 AASHTO
Guide are largely a result of the original AASHO Road Test.

This section describes the basics behind empirical design to include:

● The empirical equation – using the 1993 AASHTO Guide flexible pavement equation as an
example

● An empirical computer program - using the 1993 AASHTO Guide equation for flexible pavements

3.1 Empirical Equation


Empirical equations are used to relate observed or measurable phenomena (pavement characteristics) with
outcomes (pavement performance). There are many different types of empirical equations available today
but this section will present the 1993 AASHTO Guide basic design equation for flexible pavements as an
example. This equation is widely used and has the following form:

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

(these variables will be further explained in Section 3.1.2, Inputs)

where: W18 = predicted number of 80 kN (18,000 lb.) ESALs

ZR = standard normal deviate

So = combined standard error of the traffic prediction and performance prediction

SN = Structural Number (an index that is indicative of the total pavement


thickness required)

= a1D1 + a2D2m2 + a3D3m3+...

ai = ith layer coefficient

Di = ith layer thickness (inches)

mi = ith layer drainage coefficient

∆PSI = difference between the initial design serviceability index, po, and the design
terminal serviceability index, pt

MR = subgrade resilient modulus (in psi)

This equation is not the only empirical equation available but it does give a good sense of what an empirical
equation looks like, what factors it considers and how empirical observations are incorporated into an
empirical equation. The rest of this section will discuss the specific assumptions, inputs and outputs
associated with the 1993 AASHTO Guide flexible pavement empirical design equation. The following
subsections discuss:

● Assumptions

● Inputs

● Outputs

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

3.1.1 Assumptions
From the AASHO Road Test, equations were developed which related loss in serviceability, traffic, and
pavement thickness. Because they were developed for the specific conditions of the AASHO Road Test,
these equations have some significant limitations:

● The equations were developed based on the specific pavement materials and roadbed soil present
at the AASHO Road Test.

● The equations were developed based on the environment at the AASHO Road Test only.

● The equations are based on an accelerated two-year testing period rather than a longer, more
typical 20+ year pavement life. Therefore, environmental factors were difficult if not impossible to
extrapolate out to a longer period.

● The loads used to develop the equations were operating vehicles with identical axle loads and
configurations, as opposed to mixed traffic.

In order to apply the equations developed as a result of the AASHO Road Test, some basic assumptions are
needed:

● The characterization of subgrade support may be extended to other subgrade soils by an abstract
soil support scale.

● Loading can be applied to mixed traffic by use of ESALs.

● Material characterizations may be applied to other surfaces, bases, and subbases by assigning
appropriate layer coefficients.

● The accelerated testing done at the AASHO Road Test (2-year period) can be extended to a longer
design period.

When using the 1993 AASHTO Guide empirical equation or any other empirical equation, it is extremely
important to know the equation's limitations and basic assumptions. Otherwise, it is quite easy to use an
equation with conditions and materials for which it was never intended. This can lead to invalid results at
the least and incorrect results at the worst.

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

3.1.2 Inputs
The 1993 AASHTO Guide equation requires a number of inputs related to loads, pavement structure and
subgrade support. These inputs are:

● The predicted loading. The predicted loading is simply the predicted number of 80 kN (18,000
lb.) ESALs that the pavement will experience over its design lifetime.

● Reliability. The reliability of the pavement design-performance process is the probability that a
pavement section designed using the process will perform satisfactorily over the traffic and
environmental conditions for the design period (AASHTO, 1993). In other words, there must be
some assurance that a pavement will perform as intended given variability in such things as
construction, environment and materials. The ZR and So variables account for reliability.

● Pavement structure. The pavement structure is characterized by the Structural Number (SN). The
Structural Number is an abstract number expressing the structural strength of a pavement required
for given combinations of soil support (MR), total traffic expressed in ESALs, terminal
serviceability and environment. The Structural Number is converted to actual layer thicknesses (e.
g., 150 mm (6 inches) of HMA) using a layer coefficient (a) that represents the relative strength of
the construction materials in that layer. Additionally, all layers below the HMA layer are assigned
a drainage coefficient (m) that represents the relative loss of strength in a layer due to its drainage
characteristics and the total time it is exposed to near-saturation moisture conditions. Generally,
quick-draining layers that almost never become saturated can have coefficients as high as 1.4
while slow-draining layers that are often saturated can have drainage coefficients as low as 0.40.
Keep in mind that a drainage coefficient is basically a way of making a specific layer thicker. If a
fundamental drainage problem is suspected, thicker layers may only be of marginal benefit - a
better solution is to address the actual drainage problem by using very dense layers (to minimize
water infiltration) or designing a drainage system. Because of the peril associated with its use,
often times the drainage coefficient is neglected (i.e., set as m = 1.0).

● Serviceable life. The difference in present serviceability index (PSI) between construction and
end-of-life is the serviceability life. The equation compares this to default values of 4.2 for the
immediately-after-construction value and 1.5 for end-of-life (terminal serviceability). Typical
values used now are:

❍ Post-construction: 4.0 - 5.0 depending upon construction quality, smoothness, etc.

❍ End-of-life (called "terminal serviceability"): 1.5 - 3.0 depending upon road use (e.g.,
interstate highway, urban arterial, residential)

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

● Subgrade support. Subgrade support is characterized by the subgrade's resilient modulus (MR).
Intuitively, the amount of structural support offered by the subgrade should be a large factor in
determining the required pavement structure.

WSDOT Flexible Pavement Empirical Design Guidance

There cannot be a "fixed list" of design inputs for use in the AASHTO Guide which can be
applied to all WSDOT flexible pavement designs; however, some guidance is offered as a
starting point in the design process (typical values and associated ranges; required decisions).
Further, knowledge about these inputs will improve and undoubtedly change over time. Listed
below are the WSDOT suggested design inputs for the 1993 AASHTO Guide flexible
pavement empirical design equation:

● Future ESALs. Take the initial traffic and multiply it by a factor that is dependent
upon growth rate using the following equation to determine this factor:

where: g = growth rate as a decimal

n = number of periods in the design life


(typically, years are used)

● Reliability. See the WSDOT reliability values.

● Overall standard deviation. Unless available project specific information suggests


otherwise, use So = 0.50.

● Design serviceability loss. Two decisions are required, selection of an initial PSI
(po) and terminal PSI (pt). A terminal PSI level of 3.0 is based, in part, on the
original pavement serviceability performance data reported by Carey and Irick
(1960). They found that about one-half of the panel of raters found a PSR of 3.0
acceptable and a PSR of 2.5 unacceptable. Thus, the following is suggested:

Pavement Use/Type po pt ∆PSI

Any Use 4.5 3.0 1.5

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

● Effective roadbed resilient modulus (MReff). This is a function of seasonal roadbed


(subgrade) resilient moduli. If site-specific seasonal moduli are not available, then
the following moduli ratios (ratio of seasonal moduli to "summer" moduli) are
suggested:

Condition Moduli Ratio

Western Washington

Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) 0.85

Spring (Mar, Apr, May) 0.90

Summer (Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep) 1.00

Fall (Oct, Nov) 0.90

Eastern Washington

Winter (Jan) 1.00 - 1.10

Winter/Spring (Feb, Mar, Apr, May) 0.85

Summer (Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep) 1.00

Fall (Oct, Nov, Dec) 0.90

Note: The largest moduli variation observed by WSDOT in


recent years is in the base course layer, with moduli ratios
ranging from 0.75 to 1.00 in Western Washington, and 0.65 to
1.10 in Eastern Washington. Unfortunately, the AASHTO
Guide does not have a direct way of dealing with variable base
course moduli, other than adjusting the Drainage Coefficients
(m's) for base and subbase layers.

● Layer coefficients (a). For HMA Class A and B mixes as well as Superpave mixes,
typical values are a = 0.44 or less. For crushed surfacing base course, typical
values are a = 0.14 or less. For other materials, test results (such as MR, R-value or
CBR) should be used and correlated with a layer coefficient using the AASHTO
Guide.

● Drainage coefficients (m). If they are to be used, drainage coefficients can be


obtained for project-specific conditions directly from Table 2.4 (Part II, Chapter 2,

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

1993 AASHTO Guide). Typically, WSDOT uses m = 1.0 and addresses drainage
issues separately.

3.1.3 Outputs
The 1993 AASHTO Guide equation can be solved for any one of the variables as long as all the others are
supplied. Typically, the output is either total ESALs or the required Structural Number (or the associated
pavement layer depths). To be most accurate, the flexible pavement equation described in this chapter
should be solved simultaneously with the flexible pavement ESAL equation. This solution method is an
iterative process that solves for ESALs in both equations by varying the Structural Number. It is iterative
because the Structural Number (SN) has two key influences:

1. The Structural Number determines the total number of ESALs that a particular pavement can
support. This is evident in the flexible pavement design equation presented in this section.

2. The Structural Number also determines what the 80 kN (18,000 lb.) ESAL is for a given load.

Therefore, the Structural Number is required to determine the number of ESALs to design for before the
pavement is ever designed. The iterative design process usually proceeds as follows:

1. Determine and gather flexible pavement design inputs (ZR, So, ∆PSI and MR).

2. Determine and gather flexible pavement ESAL equation inputs (Lx, L2x, G).

3. Assume a Structural Number (SN).

4. Determine the equivalency factor for each load type by solving the ESAL equation using the
assumed SN for each load type.

5. Estimate the traffic count for each load type for the entire design life of the pavement and multiply
it by the calculated ESAL to obtain the total number of ESALs expected over the design life of the
pavement.

6. Insert the assumed SN into the design equation and calculate the total number of ESALs that the
pavement will support over its design life.

7. Compare the ESAL values in #5 and #6. If they are reasonably close (say within 5 percent) use the
assumed SN. If they are not reasonably close, assume a different SN, go to step #4 and repeat the
process.

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6.3 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

In practice, the flexible pavement design equation is usually solved independently of the ESAL equation by
using an ESAL value that is assumed independent of structural number. Although this assumption is not
true, pavement structure depths calculated using it are reasonably accurate. This design process usually
proceeds as follows:

1. Assume a structural number (SN) for ESAL calculations. Although often not overtly stated, a
structural number must be assumed in order to calculate ESALs.

2. Determine the load equivalency factor (LEF) for each load type by solving the ESAL equation
using the assumed SN for each load type. Typically, a standard set of load types is used (e.g.,
single unit trucks, tractor-trailer trucks and buses).

3. Estimate the traffic count for each load type for the entire design life of the pavement and multiply
it by the calculated LEF to obtain the total number of ESALs expected over the design life of the
pavement.

4. Determine and gather flexible pavement design inputs (ZR, So, ∆PSI and MR).

5. Solve the design equation for SN.

6. Check to see that the computed SN value is reasonably close to that assumed for ESAL
calculations. This step of often neglected.

3.2 An Empirical Equation Design Utility


This design utility solves the 1993 AASHTO Guide basic design equation for flexible pavements. It also
supplies some basic information on variable descriptions, typical values and equation precautions.

Load the Flexible Pavement Design Utility

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

4 Flexible - Mechanistic-Empirical
Method
Mechanics is the science of motion and the action of forces on Major Topics on this Page
bodies. Thus, a mechanistic approach seeks to explain
phenomena only by reference to physical causes. In pavement 4.1 Mechanistic Model
design, the phenomena are the stresses, strains and deflections
within a pavement structure, and the physical causes are the loads 4.2 Failure Criteria
and material properties of the pavement structure. The 4.3 A Mechanistic Computer Program
relationship between these phenomena and their physical causes
is typically described using a mathematical model. Various mathematical models can be (and are) used; the most
common is a layered elastic model.

Along with this mechanistic approach, empirical elements are used when defining what value of the calculated
stresses, strains and deflections result in pavement failure. The relationship between physical phenomena and
pavement failure is described by empirically derived equations that compute the number of loading cycles to
failure.

The basic advantages of a mechanistic-empirical pavement design method over a purely empirical one are:

● It can be used for both existing pavement rehabilitation and new pavement construction

● It accommodates changing load types

● It can better characterize materials allowing for:

❍ Better utilization of available materials

❍ Accommodation of new materials

❍ An improved definition of existing layer properties

● It uses material properties that relate better to actual pavement performance

● It provides more reliable performance predictions

● It better defines the role of construction

● It accommodates environmental and aging effects on materials

The benefit of a mechanistic-empirical approach is its ability to accurately characterize in situ material (including
subgrade and existing pavement structures). This is typically done by using a portable device (like a FWD) to
make actual field deflection measurements on a pavement structure to be overlaid. These measurements can then
be input into equations to determine existing pavement structural support (often called "backcalculation") and the

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

approximate remaining pavement life. This allows for a more realistic design for the given conditions.

This section describes the basics behind flexible pavement mechanistic-empirical design to include:

● The mechanistic model. The layered elastic model and the finite element models are used as examples.

● Empirical failure definitions and equations. Equations from Finn et al. (1977), the AASHO Road Test
and the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada (RTAC) are used as working examples.

● A mechanistic computer program. The Everseries programs from the Washington State DOT are used as
examples.

4.1 Mechanistic Model


Mechanistic models are used to mathematically model pavement physics. There are a number of different types of
models available today (e.g., dynamic, viscoelastic models) but this section will present two, the layered elastic
model and the finite elements model (FEM), as examples of the types of models typically used. Both of these
models can easily be run on personal computers and only require data that can be realistically obtained.

4.1.1 Layered Elastic Model


A layered elastic model can compute stresses, strains and deflections at any point in a pavement structure resulting
from the application of a surface load. Layered elastic models assume that each pavement structural layer is
homogeneous, isotropic, and linearly elastic. In other words, it is the same everywhere and will rebound to its
original form once the load is removed. The origin of layered elastic theory is credited to V.J. Boussinesq who
published his classic work in 1885. Today, Boussinesq influence charts are still widely used in soil mechanics and
foundation design. This section covers the basic assumptions, inputs and outputs from a typical layered elastic
model.

4.1.1.1 Assumptions

The layered elastic approach works with relatively simple mathematical models and thus, requires some basic
assumptions. These assumptions are:

● Pavement layers extend infinitely in the horizontal direction.

● The bottom layer (usually the subgrade) extends infinitely downward.

● Materials are not stressed beyond their elastic ranges.

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

4.1.1.2 Inputs

A layered elastic model requires a minimum number of inputs to adequately characterize a pavement structure and
its response to loading. These inputs are:

● Material properties of each layer

❍ Modulus of elasticity

❍ Poisson's ratio

● Pavement layer thicknesses

● Loading conditions

❍ Magnitude. The total force (P) applied to the pavement surface

❍ Geometry. Usually specified as being a circle of a given radius (r or a), or the radius computed
knowing the contact pressure of the load (p) and the magnitude of the load (P). Although most
actual loads more closely represent an ellipse, the effect of the differences in geometry become
negligible at a very shallow depth in the pavement.

❍ Repetitions. Multiple loads on a pavement surface can be accommodated by summing the effects
of individual loads. This can be done because we are assuming that the materials are not being
stressed beyond their elastic ranges.

Figure 6.4 shows how these inputs relate to a layered elastic model of a pavement system.

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

Figure 6.4: Layered Elastic Inputs

4.1.1.3 Output

The outputs of a layered elastic model are the stresses, strains, and deflections in the pavement:

● Stress. The intensity of internally distributed forces experienced within the pavement structure at various
points. Stress has units of force per unit area (N/m2, Pa or psi).

● Strain. The unit displacement due to stress, usually expressed as a ratio of the change in dimension to the
original dimension (mm/mm or in/in). Since the strains in pavements are very small, they are normally
expressed in terms of microstrain (10-6).

● Deflection. The linear change in a dimension. Deflection is expressed in units of length (mm or µm or
inches or mils).

The use of a layered elastic analysis computer program will allow one to calculate the theoretical stresses, strains,
and deflections anywhere in a pavement structure. However, there are a few critical locations that are often used in
pavement analysis (see Table 6.1 and Figure 6.5).

Table 6.1: Critical Analysis Locations in a Pavement Structure

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

Location Response Reason for Use

Used in imposing load restrictions during


Pavement Surface Deflection
spring thaw and overlay design (for example)

Bottom of HMA layer Horizontal Tensile Strain Used to predict fatigue failure in the HMA

Top of Intermediate Layer Used to predict rutting failure in the base or


Vertical Compressive Strain
(Base or Subbase) subbase

Top of Subgrade Vertical Compressive Strain Used to predict rutting failure in the subgrade

Figure 6.5: Critical Analysis Locations in a Pavement Structure

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

4.1.2 Finite Elements Model


The finite element method (FEM) is a numerical analysis technique for obtaining approximate solutions to a wide
variety of engineering problems. Although originally developed to study stresses in complex airframe structures, it
has since been extended and applied to the broad field of continuum mechanics (Huebner et al., 2001). In a
continuum problem (e.g., one that involves a continuous surface or volume) the variables of interest generally
possess infinitely many values because they are functions of each generic point in the continuum. For example, the
stress in a particular element of pavement cannot be solved with one simple equation because the functions that
describe its stresses are particular to its specific location. However, the finite element method can be used to divide
a continuum (e.g., the pavement volume) into a number of small discrete volumes in order to obtain an approximate
numerical solution for each individual volume rather than an exact closed-form solution for the whole pavement
volume. Fifty years ago the computations involved in doing this were incredibly tedious, but today computers can
perform them quite readily.

In the FEM analysis of a flexible pavement, the region of interest (the pavement and subgrade) is discretized into a
number of elements with the wheel loads are at the top of the region of interest (see Figure 6.6). The finite
elements extend horizontally and vertically from the wheel to include all areas of interest within the influence of the
wheel.

Figure 6.6: EverFlex 3-D Drawing (Adapted from Wu, 2001)

The drawing shows the discrete elements, wheel loads (tire patch loads), a modeled crack and a slip interface (where on layer
can slip - move independently - from another).

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

4.1.2.1 Assumptions

The FEM approach works with a more complex mathematical model than the layered elastic approach so it makes
fewer assumptions. Generally, FEM must assume some constraining values at the boundaries of the region of
interest. For instance, the computer program developed by Hongyu Wu and George Turkiyyah at the University of
Washington (Wu, 2001), called EverFlex, uses a 6-noded foundation element to model the Winkler Foundation.
This program also uses free boundaries on the four sides of the flexible pavement model. Additionally, the choice
of element geometry (size and shape) as well as interpolation functions will influence overall model performance.

4.1.2.2 Inputs

The typical finite elements method approach involves the following seven steps (Huebner et al., 2001):

1. Discretize the Continuum. The region of interest is divided into small discrete shapes.

2. Select Interpolation Functions. Nodes are assigned to each element and then a function is chosen to
interpolate the variation of the variable over the discrete element.

3. Find the Element Properties. Using the established finite element model (the elements and their
interpolation functions) to determine matrix equations that express the properties of the individual
elements.

4. Assemble the Element Properties to Obtain the System Equations. Combine the matrix equations
expressing the behavior of the elements and form the matrix equations expressing the behavior of the
entire system.

5. Impose the Boundary Conditions. Impose values for certain variables at key boundary positions (e.g., the
bottom and sides of the chosen region of analysis).

6. Solve the System Equations. The above process results in a set of simultaneous equations that can then
be solved.

7. Make Additional Computations If Desired. The unknowns are displacement components. From these
displacements element strains and stresses can be calculated.

4.1.2.3 Outputs

The outputs of a FEM analysis are the same as for a layered elastic model:

● Stress. The intensity of internally distributed forces experienced within the pavement structure at various
points. Stress has units of force per unit area (N/m2, Pa or psi).

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

● Strain. The unit displacement due to stress, usually expressed as a ratio of the change in dimension to the
original dimension (mm/mm or in/in). Since the strains in pavements are very small, they are normally
expressed in terms of microstrain (10-6).

● Deflection. The linear change in a dimension. Deflection is expressed in units of length (mm or µm or
inches or mils).

In addition, the finite elements method allows for extremely powerful graphical displays of these values (see
Figures 6.7 through 6.10).

Figure 6.7: 3-D Strain Figure 6.8: Surface Strain Figure 6.9: Section View Figure 6.10: Sample Load
Diagram Diagram Strain Diagram Profiles

Screen Shot Thumbnails from EverFlex (Wu, 2001).


Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.

4.2 Failure Criteria (or Transfer Functions)


The main empirical portions of the mechanistic-empirical design process are the equations used to compute the
number of loading cycles to failure. These equations are derived by observing the performance of pavements and
relating the type and extent of observed failure to an initial strain under various loads. Currently, two types of
failure criteria are widely recognized, one relating to fatigue cracking and the other to rutting initiating in the
subgrade. A third deflection-based criterion may be of use in special applications. Note that since these failure
criteria are empirically established, they must be calibrated to specific local conditions and are generally not
applicable on a national scale.

4.2.1 Fatigue Failure Criterion


Many equations have been developed to estimate the number of repetitions to failure in the fatigue mode for asphalt
concrete. Most of these rely on the horizontal tensile strain at the bottom of the HMA layer (εt) and the elastic
modulus of the HMA. One commonly accepted criterion developed by Finn et al. (1977) is:

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

where: Nf = number of cycles to failure

ε = horizontal tensile strain at the bottom of the HMA layer


t

EAC = elastic modulus of the HMA

The above equation defines failure as fatigue cracking over 10 percent of the wheelpath area. Figure 6.11 shows
the relationship between tensile strain in the asphalt concrete and the number of cycles to failure for two levels of
asphalt concrete elastic modulus. This relationship assumes bottom-up cracking rather than top-down cracking.

Figure 6.11: Limiting Horizontal Strain Criterion for Asphalt Concrete Fatigue Cracking

4.2.2 Rutting Failure Criterion


Rutting can initiate in any layer of the structure, making it more difficult to predict than fatigue cracking. Current

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

failure criteria are intended for rutting that can be attributed mostly to a weak pavement structure. This is typically
expressed in terms of the vertical compressive strain (εv) at the top of the subgrade layer:

where: Nf = number of cycles to failure

ε = vertical compressive strain at the top of the subgrade layer


v

The above equation defines failure as 12.5 mm (0.5-inch) depressions in the wheelpaths of the pavement. Figure
6.12 illustrates how the vertical compressive strain relates to the number of cycles to failure.

Figure 6.12: Limiting Subgrade Strain Criterion for Rutting

4.2.3 Deflection Failure Criterion


A number of deflection based criteria have been developed by various agencies over the last 40 years or so. The

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

AASHO Road Test and Roads and Transportation Association of Canada (RTAC) criteria are shown here. Both
these criteria were developed based on spring seasonal deflections.

4.2.3.1 AASHO Road Test Criterion

The AASHO Road Test results were used to develop the following relations (Highway Research Board, 1962b):

where: W2.5 = number of applications of axle load L sustained by the pavement to a terminal
1
serviceability index of 2.5

L1 = single axle load (kips)

dsn = Benkelman Beam springtime measured pavement surface deflection (0.001 in.) measured at
the AASHO Road Test (Spring 1959) after "disappearance of frost."

This criterion was based on data from Loops 2 through 6 and single axle loads of 6, 12, 18, 22.4, and 30 kips (1 kip
= 1,000 lbs.). The following equation is obtained if L = 18,000 lbs. (a standard ESAL):
1

4.2.3.2 Roads and Transportation Association of Canada (RTAC) Criterion

The RTAC criterion can be calculated as follows (after RTAC (1977) and Haas et al. (1994)):

where: BB = maximum rebound deflection (in.) (defined as the mean rebound deflection plus two standard
deviations) at a standard temperature of 21°C (70°F)

= 0.100 inches for ESAL ≤ 47,651

= 0.02 inches for ESAL > 10,000,000

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6.4 Flexible Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

ESAL = 80 kN (18000 lb.) single axle loads

Table 6.2 shows the limiting deflections for both criteria:

Table 6.2: Limiting Deflections

Limiting "Spring" Deflection (in.)


Loads to Failure
AASHO Road Test RTAC
10,000 0.148 0.100
100,000 0.072 0.080
1,000,000 0.036 0.040
10,000,000 0.018 0.020

4.3 A Mechanistic Computer Program


The Washington State DOT has developed a layered elastic-based software package called the Everseries Pavement
Analysis Programs (Sivaneswaran, Pierce and Mahoney, 2001). Everseries (for short) contains three independent
programs:

1. Layered elastic analysis (Everstress)

2. FWD pavement modulus backcalculation (Evercalc)

3. Flexible pavement overlay design (Everpave)

To install the Everseries programs on your computer, click the install icon below:

NOTES:

● These programs must be installed on to your computer before you can use them. During the installation you
will be prompted to specify a location to which they can be installed. Once installed, the programs and their
supporting files take about 3.34 MB of disk space.

● The programs are designed for Windows operating systems.

The Everseries Pavement Analysis Programs can also be downloaded from the Washington State DOT Materials
Lab at: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/biz/mats. Volume 3 of the WSDOT Pavement Guide (WSDOT, 1998) is
available at the same site for download and contains detailed instructions on how to run the Everseries programs.

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

5 Rigid - Pavement Response


Rigid pavements respond to loading in a variety of ways that affect Major Topics on this Page
performance (both initial and long-term). The three principal
responses are: 5.1 Stress

5.2 Shrinkage/Expansion
● Curling stress. Differences in temperature between the top
and bottom surfaces of a PCC slab will cause the slab to curl. Since slab weight and contact with the base
restrict its movement, stresses are created.

● Load stress. Loads on a PCC slab will create both compressive and tensile stresses within the slab and any
adjacent one (as long as load transfer efficiency is > 0).

● Shrinkage/Expansion. In addition to curling, environmental temperatures will cause PCC slabs to expand
(when hot) and contract (when cool), which causes joint movement.

These three principal responses typically determine PCC slab geometry (typically described by slab thickness and joint
design). As slabs get longer, wider and thinner, these responses, or a combination of them, will eventually exceed the
slab's capacity and cause failure in the form of slab cracking, joint widening or blowup. Note that additional issues,
notably load transfer stresses and deflections, must also be accounted for in design.

There are a variety of ways to calculate or at least account for these responses in design. The empirical approach uses
the AASHO Road Test results to correlate measurable parameters (such as slab depth and PCC modulus of rupture) and
derived indices (such as the load transfer coefficient and pavement serviceability index) to pavement performance. The
mechanistic-empirical approach relates calculated pavement stresses to empirically derived failure conditions.

5.1 Stress
The stresses of primary concern are associated with slab bending either due to temperature gradients, loading or a
combination thereof.

5.1.1 Curling
Since PCC is much stronger in compression than tension, tensile stresses tend to control PCC pavement design.
Therefore, slab curling calculations seek to find the points of maximum tensile stress as the slab curls due to
temperature gradients within (see Figure 6.13). In 1935, measurements reported by Teller and Southerland of the
Bureau of Public Roads showed that the maximum temperature differential (hence, maximum curling and maximum
tensile stresses) is much larger during the day than during the night. Therefore, the daytime curling stresses are usually
most limiting.

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

Figure 6.13: Slab Curling

To evaluate the tensile warping stresses which develop in the slab, the temperatures at the top and bottom of the slab
must be estimated. The first formulas used to estimate warping stresses were developed by Bradbury (1938):

where: σt = slab edge warping stress

C = coefficient which is a function of slab length and the radius of relative stiffness (shown
in Figure 6.13)

E = modulus of elasticity of PCC

e = thermal coefficient of PCC (≈ 0.000005/°F)

∆T = temperature differential between the top and bottom of the slab

For interior stresses, Bradbury's formula is

where: σt = slab interior warping stress

E = modulus of elasticity of PCC

e = thermal coefficient of PCC (≈ 0.000005/°F)

∆T = temperature differential between the top and bottom of the slab

C1 = coefficient in direction of calculated stress

C2 = coefficient in direction perpendicular to C1

µ = Poisson's ratio for PCC (≈ 0.15)

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

Figure 6.14: Curve Showing Variation in the Differential Temperature Stress Coefficient C for Different
Values of the Ratio B/l (redrawn from Bradbury, 1938)

Bradbury also developed an approximate formula for slab corner warping stresses

where: σt = slab interior warping stress

E = modulus of elasticity of PCC

e = thermal coefficient of PCC (≈ 0.000005/°F)

∆T = temperature differential between the top and bottom of the slab

µ = Poisson's ratio for PCC (≈ 0.15)

a = radius of wheel load distribution for corner loading

l = radius of relative stiffness

The radius of relative stiffness (the relative stiffness of the slab relative to that of the foundation) is required for the

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

above formulae. This equation is (from Westergaard, 1926):

where: l = radius of relative stiffness

E = modulus of elasticity of PCC

h = slab thickness

k = modulus of subgrade reaction

µ = Poisson's ratio for PCC (≈ 0.15)

5.1.2 Load
The original equations developed by Westergaard (1926) for three critical load locations will be presented. The critical
load locations are (after Bradbury, 1938 and Westergaard, 1926):

1. Interior loading. Occurs when a load is applied on the interior of a slab surface which is "remote" from all
edges.

2. Edge loading. Occurs when a load is applied on a slab edge "remote" from a slab corner.

3. Corner loading. Occurs when the center of a load is located on the bisector of the corner angle.

Assuming a poisson's ratio = 0.15, Westergaard's original equations are:

● Interior loading (tensile stress at the slab bottom)

● Edge loading (tensile stress at the slab bottom)

● Corner loading (tensile stress at slab top)

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

where: σi, σe, σc = maximum stress (psi) for in interior, edge and corner loadings, respectively

W = wheel load (lbs.)

h = slab thickness (inches)

a = radius of wheel contact area (inches)

l = radius of relative stiffness (inches)

b = radius of resisting section (inches) =

Note that all three equations involved the depth of slab (h) squared. This suggests that slab thickness is very critical in
reducing load stresses to acceptable levels.

5.2 Shrinkage/Expansion
Although slab shrinkage and expansion causes internal stress, especially as the PCC sets and hardens, the long term
concern centers on the joint movement that this shrinkage/expansion can cause. The following formula can be used to
estimate joint movement in PCC slabs (FHWA, 1989):

where: z = joint opening = change in slab length (inches)

C = base/slab frictional restraint factor


= 0.65 for stabilized bases
= 0.80 for granular bases

L = slab length (inches)

e = thermal coefficient of PCC (listed by coarse aggregate type)

= 6.6 x 10-6/°F (quartz)

= 6.5 x 10-6/°F (sandstone)

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6.5 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Pavement Response

= 6.0 x 10-6/°F (gravel)

= 5.3 x 10-6/°F (granite)

= 4.8 x 10-6/°F (basalt)

= 3.8 x 10-6/°F (limestone)

∆T = the maximum temperature range (for some cases it is the temperature of the PCC at
the time of placement minus the average daily minimum temperature in January) (°F)

δ = shrinkage coefficient of PCC

~ 0.0008 in./in. for indirect tensile strength of 300 psi or less

~ 0.00045 in./in. for indirect tensile strength of 500 psi

~ 0.0002 in./in. for indirect tensile strength of 700 psi or greater

(Note: δ should be omitted for rehabilitation projects as shrinkage (assuming no new slab PCC) is not
a factor.)

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

6 Rigid - Empirical Method


An empirical approach is one which is based on the results of experiments or Major Topics on this Page
experience. Generally, it requires a number of observations to be made in order to
6.1 Empirical Equation
ascertain the relationships between input variables and outcomes. It is not
necessary to firmly establish the scientific basis for the relationships between 6.2 An Empirical Equation Design Utility
variables and outcomes as long as the limitations with such an approach are
recognized. Specifically, it is not prudent to use empirically derived relationships to describe phenomena that occur outside the range
of the original data used to develop the relationship. In some cases, it is much more expedient to rely on experience than to try to
quantify the exact cause and effect of certain phenomena.

Many pavement design procedures use an empirical approach. This means that the relationship between design inputs (e.g., loads,
materials, layer configurations and environment) and pavement failure were arrived at through experience, experimentation or a
combination of both. Empirical design methods can range from extremely simple to quite complex. The simplest approaches specify
pavement structural designs based on what has worked in the past. For example, local governments often specify city streets to be
designed using a given cross section (e.g., 200 mm (8 inches) of PCC over 150 mm (6 inches) of crushed stone) because they have
found that this cross section has produced adequate pavements in the past. More complex approaches usually develop empirical
equations based on the results of experimentation. Some of this experimentation can be quite elaborate. For example, the empirical
equations used in the 1993 AASHTO Guide are largely a result of the original AASHO Road Test.

This section describes the basics behind empirical design to include:

● The empirical equation – using the 1993 AASHTO Guide rigid pavement equation as an example

● An empirical computer program - using the 1993 AASHTO Guide equation for rigid pavements

6.1 Empirical Equation


Empirical equations are used to relate observed or measurable phenomena with outcomes. There are many different types of
empirical equations available today but this section will present the 1993 AASHTO Guide basic design equation for rigid pavements
as an example. This equation is widely used and has the following form (see Figure 6.5 for the nomograph form):

(these variables will be further explained in Section 4.1.2, Inputs)

where: W18 = predicted number of 80 kN (18,000 lb.) ESALs

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ZR = standard normal deviate

So = combined standard error of the traffic prediction and performance


prediction

D = slab depth (inches)

pt = terminal serviceability index

∆PSI = difference between the initial design serviceability index, po, and the
design terminal serviceability index, pt

= modulus of rupture of PCC (flexural strength)

Cd = drainage coefficient

J = load transfer coefficient (value depends upon the load transfer efficiency)

Ec = Elastic modulus of PCC

k = modulus of subgrade reaction

This equation is not the only empirical equation available but it does give a good sense of what an empirical equation looks like,
what factors it considers and how empirical observations are incorporated into an equation. The rest of this section will discuss the
specific assumptions, inputs and outputs associated with the 1993 AASHTO Guide flexible pavement empirical design equation.
The following subsections discuss:

● assumptions

● inputs

● outputs

6.1.1 Assumptions
From the AASHO Road Test, equations were developed which related loss in serviceability, traffic, and pavement thickness. These
equations were developed for the specific conditions of the AASHO Road Test and therefore involved some significant limitations:

● The equations were developed based on the specific pavement materials and roadbed soil present at the AASHO Road Test.

● The equations were developed based on the environment at the AASHO Road Test only.

● The equations are based on an accelerated two-year testing period rather than a longer, more typical 20+ year pavement
life. Therefore, environmental factors were difficult if not impossible to extrapolate out to a longer period.

● The loads used to develop the equations were operating vehicles with identical axle loads and configurations, as opposed
to mixed traffic.

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

● For JPCP and JRCP, all transverse joints were the same spacing. JPCP was 4.6 m (15 ft) and JRCP was 12.2 m (40 ft). All
transverse joints used dowel bars.

● All PCC was of the same mix design and used the same aggregate and portland cement.

In order to apply the equations developed as a result of the AASHO Road Test, some basic assumptions are needed:

● The characterization of subgrade support may be extended to other subgrade soils by an abstract soil support scale.

● Loading can be applied to mixed traffic by use of ESALs.

● Material characterizations may be applied to other surfaces, bases, and subbases by assigning appropriate values.

● The accelerated testing done at the AASHO Road Test (2-year period) can be extended to a longer design period.

When using the 1993 AASHTO Guide empirical equation or any other empirical equation, it is extremely important to know the
equation's limitations and basic assumptions. Otherwise, it is quite easy to use an equation with conditions and materials for which it
was never intended. This can lead to invalid results at the least and incorrect results at the worst.

6.1.2 Inputs
The 1993 AASHTO Guide equation requires a number of inputs related to loads, pavement structure and subgrade support. These
inputs are:

● The predicted loading. The predicted loading is simply the predicted number of 80 kN (18,000 lb.) ESALs that the
pavement will experience over its design lifetime.

● Reliability. The reliability of the pavement design-performance process is the probability that a pavement section designed
using the process will perform satisfactorily over the traffic and environmental conditions for the design period (AASHTO,
1993). In other words, there must be some assurance that a pavement will perform as intended given variability in such
things as construction, environment and materials. The ZR and So variables account for reliability.

● PCC elastic modulus. If no value is known, the PCC elastic modulus (Ec) can be estimated from relationships such as the
following:

where: Ec = PCC elastic modulus

= PCC compressive strength

If no compressive strength data are available (or cannot be assumed), assume Ec = 27,500 MPa
(4,000,000 psi), which corresponds to a compressive strength of 34.5 MPa (5000 psi).

● PCC modulus of rupture (flexural strength). The modulus of rupture (S'c) is typically obtained from a flexural strength

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

test.

● Slab depth. The pavement structure is best characterized by slab depth (D). The number of ESALs a rigid pavement can
carry over its lifetime is very sensitive to slab depth. As a general rule, beyond about 200 mm (8 inches) the load carrying
capacity of a rigid pavement doubles for each additional 25 mm (1 inch) of slab thickness.

● Drainage coefficient. Rigid pavement is assigned a drainage coefficient (Cd) that represents the relative loss of strength
due to its drainage characteristics and the total time it is exposed to near-saturation moisture conditions. Generally, quick-
draining layers that almost never become saturated can have coefficients as high as 1.2 while slow-draining layers that are
often saturated can have drainage coefficients as low as 0.80. If subsurface drainage is expected to be a problem, positive
drainage measures should be taken. In general, the use of drainage coefficients to overcome poor drainage conditions is
not recommended (i.e. more slab thickness does not necessarily solve water-related problems). Because of the peril
associated with its use, often times the drainage coefficient is neglected (i.e., set as Cd = 1.0).

● Serviceable life. The difference in present serviceability index (PSI) between construction and end-of-life is the
serviceability life. The equation compares this to default values of 4.2 for the immediately-after-construction value and 1.5
for end-of-life (terminal serviceability). Typical values used now are:

❍ Post-construction: 4.0 - 5.0 depending upon construction quality, smoothness, etc.

❍ End-of-life (called "terminal serviceability" and designated "pt"): 1.5 - 3.0 depending upon road use (e.g.,
interstate highway, urban arterial, residential)

● Load transfer coefficient (J Factor). This accounts for load transfer efficiency. Essentially, the lower the J Factor the
better the load transfer. The J Factor for the AASHO Road Test was estimated to be 3.2. Typical J factor values are as
shown below.

Condition J Factor

Undoweled PCC on crushed aggregate surfacing 3.8

Doweled PCC on crushed aggregate surfacing 3.2

Doweled PCC on HMA (without widened outside lane) and tied


2.7
PCC shoulders

CRCP with HMA shoulders 2.9 - 3.2

CRCP with tied PCC shoulders 2.3 - 2.9

● Modulus of subgrade reaction. The modulus of subgrade reaction (k) is used to estimate the "support" of the PCC slab by
the layers below. Usually, an "effective" k (keff) is calculated which reflects base, subbase and subgrade contributions as
well as the loss of support that occurs over time due to erosion and stripping of the base, subbase and subgrade. Typically,
large changes in keff have only a modest impact on PCC slab thickness.

WSDOT Rigid Pavement Empirical Design Guidance

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

There cannot be a "fixed list" of design inputs for use in the AASHTO Guide which can be applied to all WSDOT
rigid pavement designs; however, some guidance is offered as a starting point in the design process (typical values
and associated ranges; required decisions). Further, knowledge about these inputs will improve and undoubtedly
change over time. Listed below are the WSDOT suggested design inputs for the 1993 AASHTO Guide rigid
pavement empirical design equation:

● Future ESALs. Take the initial traffic and multiply it by a factor that is dependent upon growth rate using
the following equation to determine this factor:

where: g = growth rate as a decimal

n = number of periods in the design life


(typically, years are used)

● Reliability. See the WSDOT reliability values.

● Overall standard deviation. Unless available project specific information suggests otherwise, use So =
0.40.

● Design serviceability loss. Two decisions are required, selection of an initial PSI (po) and terminal PSI
(pt). A terminal PSI level of 3.0 is based, in part, on the original pavement serviceability performance
data reported by Carey and Irick (1960). They found that about one-half of the panel of raters found a
PSR of 3.0 acceptable and a PSR of 2.5 unacceptable. Thus, the following are suggested:

Pavement Use/Type po pt ∆PSI

Any Use 4.5 3.0 1.5

● PCC elastic modulus. For design purposes (unless project specific information suggests otherwise), use
Ec = 27,500 MPa (4,000,000 psi).

● PCC modulus of rupture. In the absence of local data, this value typically ranges between 4.5 - 5.5 MPa
(650 - 800 psi).

● Load transfer coefficient ("J Factor"). Unless performance information indicates otherwise, the
following J factors are suggested:

Condition J Factor

Undoweled PCC on an HMA base with a widened outside lane and drainable
3.4
shoulder material

Undoweled PCC on crushed aggregate surfacing with widened outside lane and
3.4
drainable shoulder material.

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

Undoweled PCC on crushed aggregate surfacing base course


3.4
(similar to WSDOT designs prior to 1994)

Doweled PCC on crushed aggregate surfacing or HMA base course 2.7

Doweled PCC on ATPB with widened outside lane and drainable HMA surfaced
2.7
shoulders

Doweled PCC on ATPB (without widened outside lane) and tied PCC shoulders 2.7

Note: The J Factors in the Seattle area range from 2.9 to 3.8. J Factors in the
Snoqualmie Pass area ranged from 3.6 to 3.9 and in the Vancouver area about 3.8.
The joint spacing at all five locations examined was 4.8 m (15 ft.) and the joints are
not skewed.

● Drainage coefficient. If no other project specific information is available, use a Cd = 1.0 for PCC
sections without asphalt treated permeable base (ATPB) and Cd = 1.2 for PCC sections with ATPB.
Other values are certainly possible.

● Effective modulus of subgrade reaction (keff). No specific guidance for local conditions. A typical value
to start with is 54 MPa/m (200 pci). The following table shows some typical keff based on different base
and subgrade conditions:

Loss
Base Material Subgrade MR keff
of Support1

35 MPa (5,000 psi) 1.0 27 MPa/m (100 pci)

35 MPa (5,000 psi) 2.0 11 MPa/m (40 pci)


Crushed Aggregate 70 MPa (10,000 psi) 1.0 43 MPa/m (160 pci)
150 mm (6 inches) thick
MR = 210 MPa (30,000 psi) 70 MPa (10,000 psi) 2.0 13.5 MPa/m (50 pci)

140 MPa (20,000 psi) 1.0 70 MPa/m (260 pci)

140 MPa (20,000 psi) 2.0 21.5 MPa/m (80 pci)

35 MPa (5,000 psi) 0.0 84 MPa/m (310 pci)


ATPB
100 mm (4 inches) thick 70 MPa (10,000 psi) 0.0 154 MPa/m (570 pci)
MR = 690 MPa (100,000 psi)
140 MPa (20,000 psi) 0.0 281 MPa/m (1040 pci)

HMA 70 MPa (10,000 psi) 0.0 189 MPa/m (700 pci)


105 mm (4.2 inches) thick
MR = 3,450 MPa (500,000 psi) 70 MPa (10,000 psi) 1.0 57 MPa/m (210 pci)

1A factor used to correct the modulus of subgrade reaction (k) based on the potential erosion of base material.
Values range from 0 to 3 in increments of 1. High values indicate more erosion.

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6.6 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Empirical

6.1.3 Outputs
The 1993 AASHTO Guide equation can be solved for any one of the variables as long as all the others are supplied. Typically, the
output is either total ESALs or the required slab depth (D). In design, the rigid pavement equation described in this chapter is
typically solved simultaneously with the rigid pavement ESAL equation. The solution is an iterative process that solves for ESALs
in both equations by varying the slab depth (D). The solution is iterative because the slab depth (D) has two key influences:

1. The slab depth (D) determines the total number of ESALs that a particular pavement can support. This is evident in the
rigid pavement design equation presented in this section.

2. The slab depth also determines what the equivalent 80 kN (18,000 lb.) single axle load is for a given load.

Therefore, the slab depth (D) is required to determine the number of ESALs to design for before the pavement is ever designed. The
iterative design process usually proceeds as follows:

1. Determine and gather rigid pavement design inputs (ZR, So, ∆PSI, pt, Ec, S'c, J, Cd and keff).

2. Determine and gather rigid pavement ESAL equation inputs (Lx, L2x, G)

3. Assume a slab depth (D).

4. Determine the equivalency factor for each load type by solving the ESAL equation using the assumed slab depth (D) for
each load type.

5. Estimate the traffic count for each load type for the entire design life of the pavement and multiply it by the calculated
ESAL to obtain the total number of ESALs expected over the design life of the pavement.

6. Insert the assumed slab depth (D) into the design equation and calculate the total number of ESALs that the pavement will
support over its design life.

7. Compare the ESAL values in #5 and #6. If they are reasonably close (say within 5 percent) use the assumed slab depth
(D). If they are not reasonably close, assume a different slab depth (D), go to step #4 and repeat the process.

6.2 An Empirical Equation Design Utility


This design utility solves the 1993 AASHTO Guide basic design equation for rigid pavements. It also supplies some basic
information on variable descriptions, typical values and equation precautions.

Load the Rigid Pavement Design Utility

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

7 Rigid - Mechanistic-Empirical
Method
Mechanics is the science of motion and the action of Major Topics on this Page
forces on bodies. Thus, a mechanistic approach seeks to
explain phenomena only by reference to physical 7.1 Mechanistic Model
causes. In pavement design the phenomena are the
stresses, strains and deflections within a pavement 7.2 Failure Criteria
structure, and the physical causes are the loads and 7.3 A Mechanistic Computer Program
material properties of the pavement structure. The
relationship between these phenomena and their physical causes is typically a mathematical model.
Various mathematical models can be (and are) used; the most common is a layered elastic model.

The empirical portion of a mechanistic-empirical approach comes about when defining what value of the
calculated stresses, strains and deflections result in pavement failure (the point at which the pavement is
no longer serviceable). This relationship between physical phenomena and pavement failure is described
by empirically derived equations that compute the number of loading cycles to failure.

The basic advantages of a mechanistic-empirical pavement design method over a purely empirical one
are:

● It can be used for both existing pavement rehabilitation and new pavement construction

● It accommodates changing load types

● It can better characterize materials allowing for:

❍ Better utilization of available materials

❍ Accommodation of new materials

❍ An improved definition of existing layer properties

● It uses material properties that relate better to actual pavement performance

● It provides more reliable performance predictions

● It better defines the role of construction

● It accommodates environmental and aging effects on materials

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

This section describes the basics behind rigid pavement mechanistic-empirical design.

7.1 Mechanistic Model


Mechanistic models are used to mathematically model pavement physics. There are different types of
models available today (e.g., dynamic, viscoelastic models) but this section will present two, the layered
elastic model and the finite elements model (FEM), as examples of the types of models typically used.
Both of these models can easily be run on personal computers and only require data that can be
realistically obtained.

7.1.1 Layered Elastic Model


A layered elastic model can compute stresses, strains and deflections at any point in a pavement structure
resulting from the application of a surface load. Layered elastic models assume that each pavement
structural layer is homogeneous, isotropic, and linearly elastic. In other words, it is the same everywhere
and will rebound to its original form once the load is removed. Layered elastic models for rigid pavement
use the same principles as those for flexible pavements. To read the layered elastic discussion, see
Section 4.1.1, Layered Elastic Model.

7.1.2 Finite Elements Model


The finite element method (FEM) is a numerical analysis technique for obtaining approximate solutions to
a wide variety of engineering problems. Although originally developed to study stresses in complex
airframe structures, it has since been extended and applied to the broad field of continuum mechanics
(Huebner et al., 2001). In a continuum problem (e.g., one that involves a continuous surface or volume)
the variables of interest generally possess infinitely many values because they are functions of each
generic point in the continuum. For example, the stress in a particular element of pavement cannot be
solved with one simple equation because the functions that describe its stresses are particular to its
specific location. However, the finite element method can be used to divide a continuum (e.g., the
pavement volume) into a number of small discrete volumes in order to obtain an approximate numerical
solution for each individual volume rather than an exact closed-form solution for the whole pavement
volume. Fifty years ago the computations involved in doing this were incredibly tedious, but today
computers can perform them quite readily.

Much of the discussion in this section is identical to that of Section 4.1.2, Finite Elements Model (the

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

flexible pavement FEM). However, this section uses EverFE, a FEM developed at the University of
Washington for the Washington State DOT and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by Davids, Turkiyyah and
Mahoney (1998). As in flexible pavements, the FEM analysis of a rigid pavement discritizes the region
of interest (the pavement and subgrade) into a number of elements with the loads at the top (see Figure
6.15).

Figure 6.15: EverFE Sample Deflection Display Showing Discretized Region of Interest

7.1.2.1 Assumptions

The FEM approach works with a more complex mathematical model than the layered elastic approach so
it makes fewer assumptions. Generally, FEM must assume some constraining values at the boundaries of
the region of interest. Additionally, the choice of element geometry (size and shape) as well as
interpolation functions will influence overall model performance.

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

7.1.2.2 Inputs

The typical finite elements method approach involves the following seven steps (Huebner et al., 2001):

1. Discretize the Continuum. The region of interest is divided into small discrete shapes.

2. Select Interpolation Functions. Nodes are assigned to each element and then a function is
chosen to interpolate the variation of the variable over the discrete element.

3. Find the Element Properties. Using the established finite element model (the elements and
their interpolation functions) to determine matrix equations that express the properties of the
individual elements.

4. Assemble the Element Properties to Obtain the System Equations. Combine the matrix
equations expressing the behavior of the elements and form the matrix equations expressing the
behavior of the entire system.

5. Impose the Boundary Conditions. Impose values for certain variables at key boundary
positions (e.g., the bottom and sides of the chosen region of analysis).

6. Solve the System Equations. The above process results in a set of simultaneous equations that
can then be solved.

7. Make Additional Computations If Desired. The unknowns are displacement components.


From these displacements element strains and stresses can be calculated.

Figure 6.16 shows a screen shot of one EverFE input screen.

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

Figure 6.16: EverFE Sample Input Screen

7.1.2.3 Outputs

The outputs of a FEM analysis are the same as for a layered elastic model:

● Stress (see Figure 6.18). The intensity of internally distributed forces experienced within the
pavement structure at various points. Stress has units of force per unit area (N/m2, Pa or psi).

● Strain. The unit displacement due to stress, usually expressed as a ratio of the change in
dimension to the original dimension (mm/mm or in/in). Since the strains in pavements are very
small, they are normally expressed in terms of microstrain (10-6).

● Deflection (see Figure 6.19). The linear change in a dimension. Deflection is expressed in

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6.7 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Mechanistic-Empirical

units of length (mm or µm or inches or mils).

In addition, the finite elements method allows for extremely powerful graphical displays of these values
(see Figures 6.12 through 6.14).

Figure 6.17: Input Screen


Figure 6.18: Stress View Figure 6.19: Deflection View
(Plan View)

Screen Shot Thumbnails from EverFE (Davids, Turkiyyah and Mahoney, 1998). EverFE is a
project under development at the University of Washington. The project is supported by the
Washington State Department of Transportation. Additional support is provided by the US Army
Corps of Engineers. Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.

7.2 Failure Criteria (or Transfer Functions)


The main empirical portions of the mechanistic-empirical design process are the equations used to
compute the number of loading cycles to failure. These equations are derived by (1) determining the
various stresses present in a rigid pavement section or slab, (2) observing the performance of pavements,
and (3) relating the type and extent of observed failure to an initial stress under various conditions. These
stress calculations are then tied to pavement performance using empirically derived relationships (often
called transfer functions).

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

8 Rigid - Design Features


In addition to basic layer thickness and composition Major Topics on this Page
calculations, rigid pavement structural design must
also consider surface layer joint layout and (for CRCP) 8.1 Joint Design
reinforcing steel. This section, taken largely from the
1993 AASHTO Guide, discusses each of these features. 8.2 Reinforcing Steel Design

8.1 Joint Design


Joints, which are integral to JPCP and JRCP, and also necessary in CRCP, must be designed to minimize
slab cracking, joint deflection, joint stresses and roughness as well as accommodate the intended joint
sealant. Four key design components are manipulated to meet these goals:

● Joint spacing

● Joint orientation

● Joint size

● Load transfer design

8.1.1 Joint Spacing


Joint spacing influences internal slab stresses, which determine how and where a slab cracks, as well as
how much a slab will shrink or expand with temperature changes. Typically, joint spacing decisions
must be made on JPCP transverse and longitudinal contraction joints. Of these, transverse contraction
joints involve the most options. Longitudinal joints are typically spaced at lane edges, which makes
them between about 3 and 4.25 m (10 and 14 ft.) apart. Expansion joints are rarely used any more, and
construction and isolation joints are determined by project geometry, field placement and equipment
capabilities.

Joint spacing is highly dependent on the local environment, materials and subgrade. First, expected
temperature changes will influence slab curling stresses. In general, the greater the temperature changes,
the shorter the joint spacing should be. Second, the materials within the PCC slab (the coarse aggregate

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

is of overriding concern) will influence the slab's thermal coefficient. The higher the thermal
coefficient, the more a slab will shrink and expand for a given temperature change. Generally, slabs
made with limestone coarse aggregate have lower thermal coefficients, while slabs made with quartz or
sandstone have higher thermal coefficients. Third, as the slab expands and contracts, the frictional
resistance offered by the base material will also influence slab stresses. In general, the more frictional
resistance, the higher the slab stresses.

Joint spacing is also related to slab thickness. In general, the thinner a slab is, the higher the curling
stresses and thus, the shorter the joint spacing should be. As a general rule-of-thumb, joint spacing
should be less than about 24 x slab thickness. Thus, a 230 mm slab (9 inches) should have joints spaced
no more than about 5.5 m (18 ft.) apart. Also, as a general guide, the ratio of longer side slab length to
the shorter side slab length should be kept less than about 1.25.

The FHWA (1990) recommends that the L/l ratio (slab length divided by radius of relative stiffness) not
exceed 5.0 when determining the maximum slab length. Table 6.3 shows some slab lengths resulting
from using L/l = 5.0 for a range of normal slab thicknesses.

Table 6.3: Slabs Lengths Resulting from Using an L/l Ratio = 5.0

k = 27 MPa/m (100 pci) k = 54 MPa/m (200 pci) k = 216 MPa/m (800 pci)
Slab Thickness
l L l L l L

225 mm 1067 mm 5.3 m 897 mm 4.5 m 635 mm 3.2 m


(9 inches) (42.0 inches) (17.5 ft.) (35.3 inches) (14.7 ft.) (25.0 inches) (10.4 ft.)

325 mm 1405 mm 7.0 m 1181 mm 5.9 m 836 mm 4.2 m


(13 inches) (55.3 inches) (23.0 ft.) (46.5 inches) (19.4 ft.) (32.9 inches) (13.7 ft.)

WSDOT Contraction Joint Design

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

The contraction joint spacing used by WSDOT is based on dowel bar use for load
transfer. A reasonable joint spacing when dowels are used is 3.7 m (12 ft.); however,
contraction joint spacings up to 4.5 m (15 ft.) can be used and are specified in the WSDOT
Standard Plans.

These contraction joint spacings are, in part, based on prior rigid pavement performance in
Washington State and elsewhere and slab stress calculations. For example:

● Contraction joint spacings of 3.7 - 4.5 m (12 to 15 ft.) result in lower slab
stresses due to thermal gradients.

● A contraction joint spacing of about 3.7 m (12 ft). conforms to the FHWA L/l
= 5.0 criterion for "thinner" slabs of about 228 mm (9 in.) on stiff subbases. A
spacing of about 4.5 m (15 ft.) conforms to the same criterion for "thicker"
slabs of about 330 mm (13 in.) on stiff subbases.

● In general, annual joint openings should be limited to no more than 0.6 - 0.9
mm (0.025 - 0.035 in.) to insure long term joint performance. Using the slab
shrinkage/expansion equation and PCC slabs on stabilized base for annual
temperature ranges estimated for eastern and western Washington, the resulting
joint movements are:

❍ 3.7 m (12 ft.) slab in Eastern Washington: 0.79 mm (0.031 in.)

❍ 3.7 m (12 ft.) slab in Western Washington: 0.53 mm (0.021 in.)

❍ 4.5 m (15 ft.) slab in Eastern Washington: 0.99 mm (0.039 in.)

❍ 4.5 m (15 ft.) slab in Western Washington: 0.66 mm (0.026 in.)

8.1.2 Joint Orientation


Skewed transverse contraction joints can reduce load transfer joint stresses and may be beneficial in
undoweled JPCP. Typically, joint skew should be limited to a maximum of 1:10 to prevent excessive
corner breaks (see Figure 6.20) (FHWA, 1999).

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

Figure 6.20: Skewed Joint Showing a Corner Break

8.1.3 Joint Size


Joint width and depth are dependent on two separate things. First, joint depth should be between 1/4 and
1/3 of the total slab depth to ensure crack formation at the joint. Joints shallower than this may not
sufficiently weaken the vertical plane. Second, joint width is selected to provide an adequate joint
sealant reservoir. Typically, a contraction joint is first sawed very narrow (3 mm (0.125 inches)) to
control cracking, then later widened (10 - 15 mm (0.4 - 0.6 inches) wide) to create a joint sealant
reservoir (FHWA, 1999).

WSDOT Rigid Pavement Contraction Joint Specification

WSDOT specifies the following for contraction joints:

● Depth = (Slab depth)/4

● Width = 3/16 inch to 5/16 inch

The proper joint sealant reservoir is determined as follows (FHWA, 1999):

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

1. Estimate the total joint movement using the slab shrinkage/expansion equation.

2. Determine the reservoir width based on the joint sealant to be used.

❍ Hot pour liquid sealant / silicone sealant. Dependent upon the estimated joint
opening, the allowable sealant strain and a sealant shape factor. The shape factor is
used to determine the required depth of sealant. For example, if the required joint
width is 12.5 mm (0.5 inches), and the shape factor is 1:1, then the depth is 12. 5
mm (0.5 inches).

where: W = required joint width

∆L = estimated joint opening

S = allowable sealant strain


(dependent upon the sealant type)

= 0.15 to 0.50 for rubberized asphalt (width:depth


shape factor of 1:1)

= 0.30 to 0.50 for silicone sealant (width:depth


shape factor of 2:1)

❍ Compression sealant. The uncompressed seal width (USW) should be selected based
upon the anticipated joint openings and the maximum and minimum recommended
compression of the seal (generally 0.5 and 0.2, respectively). The sawcut width is
determined based on the anticipated state of compression of the seal at the time of
compression, which is based largely on the expected temperature range and the
installation temperature.

8.1.4 Load Transfer Design


Dowel bars for load transfer must typically be designed into all medium to high volume rigid
pavements. In general, aggregate interlock becomes ineffective at a joint width of approximately 0.9
mm (0.035 inches) and is generally unable to accommodate typical slab edge stresses at

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

transverse joints associated with medium to high traffic loading (FHWA, 1990).

The FHWA (1990) recommends the use of dowel bars. Further it recommends that they have a
minimum diameter of 1/8 the pavement thickness, but not less than 32 mm (1.25 inches). Typical
designs use 460 mm (18 inch) long dowel bars at 305 mm (12 inch) on center spacing, placed at slab
mid-depth.

WSDOT Dowel Bar Design

WSDOT uses one standard dowel bar for all new construction, reconstruction
and dowel bar retrofits:

● Diameter = 38 mm (1.500 inches)

● Length = 450 mm (18 inches)

All dowels are spaced 300 mm (12 inches) center to center.

8.2 Reinforcing Steel Design


In CRCP and JRCP, reinforcing steel is used to hold tightly together any cracks that may form. Cracks
formation depends upon temperature, moisture and base material friction. As the slab cools and loses
moisture, it will contract. This contraction is resisted by friction with the base material. If this frictional
force becomes greater than the tensile strength of the PCC, the slab will crack and the tensile stresses
will be transferred to the embedded reinforcing steel. Thus, in order to prevent excessive crack widths,
the reinforcing steel must be designed to accommodate these stresses without significant elongation.
The amount of steel is typically expressed as a percentage of the slab cross sectional area. This section,
taken largely from the 1993 AASHTO Guide, briefly discusses the design process for JRCP and CRCP.

8.2.1 JRCP Reinforcing Steel Design


JRCP reinforcing steel design is a straightforward process that depends on the following three factors:

1. Slab length. This has a large effect on the maximum PCC tensile stresses developed within

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

the slab. As the slab length increases, the contact area with the base material increases, which
increases the total resisting frictional force, resulting in higher tensile stresses as the slab
contracts and/or loses moisture.

2. Steel working stress. This is usually taken to be 75% of the steel yield stress. The steel
working stress must be great enough to resist the frictional forces developed during slab
contraction.

3. Friction factor. This represents the frictional resistance between the bottom of the slab and
the top of the base material. It is like a coefficient of friction. Table 6.4 shows the 1993
AASHTO Guide recommended frictional factors.

Table 6.4: Recommended Friction Factors


(from McCullough, 1966 as referenced in AASHTO, 1993)

Friction
Type of Material Beneath the Slab
Factor (F)

Surface Treatment 2.2

Lime Stabilization 1.8

Asphalt Stabilization 1.8

Cement Stabilization 1.8

River Gravel 1.5

Crushed Stone 1.5

Sandstone 1.2

Natural Subgrade 0.9

Taking the above three factors into account, the following equation is used to determine the amount of
reinforcing steel as a percentage of slab cross-sectional area:

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

where: L = slab length

F = friction factor

fs = steel working stress (usually taken as 75% of the


yield stress)

This JRCP design procedure is also used to design CRCP transverse reinforcing steel.

8.2.2 CRCP Reinforcing Steel Design


CRCP reinforcing steel design is used to determine the amount of longitudinal steel that will satisfy the
following three limiting criteria:

● Crack spacing. To minimize crack spalling, the maximum spacing between cracks should be
less than 2.5 m (8 ft.). To minimize the potential for punchouts, the minimum spacing
between cracks should be 1.07 m (3.5 ft.).

● Crack width. To minimize spalling and water penetration, the allowable crack width should
not exceed 1 mm (0.04 inches). Small crack widths are essential to CRCP performance.

● Steel stress. This is usually taken to be 75% of the steel yield stress to prevent any plastic
deformation, although studies have shown that many CRCP pavements have performed
adequately even though their steel stress was calculated to be above yield stress (Majidzadeh,
1978 as referenced in AASHTO, 1993).

One longitudinal steel design procedure is given by the 1993 AASHTO Guide:

1. Solve the following three limiting criteria equations for the percentage of steel required (yes,
they appear difficult, but the 1993 AASHTO Guide contains nomograph solutions). Note that
crack spacing (x) should be solved using input values of x = 2.5 m (8 ft.) to determine a
minimum amount of steel required to keep the maximum crack spacing less than 2.5 m (8 ft.),
and x = 1.07 m (3.5 ft.) to determine a maximum amount of steel required to keep the
minimum crack spacing greater than 1.07 m (3.5 ft.). Crack width and steel working stress
solutions will give a minimum amount of required steel.

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

where: ft = PCC tensile stress at 28 days

ratio of the steel thermal coefficient (5 x 10-6 in./in./°F) to PCC


=
thermal coefficient

φ = steel bar diameter

σw = wheel load stress

P = cross-sectional amount of steel as a percentage of cross-sectional


slab area

Z = PCC shrinkage coefficient

∆T = design temperature drop (between high and low expected


temperatures)

2. The solutions to step 1 will provide the minimum (Pmin) and maximum (Pmax) required
percentage of reinforcing steel. If Pmax > Pmin then the design is feasible and can continue. If

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6.8 Rigid Pavement Structural Design - Design Features

not, the design inputs need to be modified and the above equations recalculated.

3. Determine the number (N) of reinforcing bars required:

where: Pmin = minimum steel percentage

Pmax = maximum steel percentage

Ws = total width of pavement section

D = slab thickness

φ = reinforcing bar or wire diameter

4. Determine the design number of reinforcing bars (Ndesign) such that it is a whole number
between Nmin and Nmax.

Transverse steel can then be designed using the JRCP procedure to define the amount of steel required
and the following equation to determine the reinforcing bar spacing:

where: As = cross-sectional area of transverse reinforcing steel

Pt = cross-sectional amount of transverse steel as a


percentage of cross-sectional slab area

D = slab thickness

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7.1 Construction - Introduction

1 Introduction
Construction quality is crucial to the long-term pavement performance. Construction factors such as
surface preparation, placement, joint construction and compaction/consolidation have an overwhelming
effect on pavement performance, which cannot be ignored or compensated for in mix or structural
design. Other construction considerations such as plant operations, mix transport and quality control
procedures can also directly influence pavement performance.

Pavement construction is somewhat of a combination of science and art. Although the mix design and
structural design are determined through carefully controlled experiments and equations, properly
constructing a pavement can be done in many different ways, each of which may be appropriate for a
specific combination of factors such as temperature, pavement thickness, material properties, and
subgrade to name a few. Essentially, there are so many variables involved in construction that it is
virtually impossible to reduce it down to a simple set of rules and equations; therefore, there is a
significant amount of “art” to it. However, there are equipment and methods common to almost all
pavement construction and there are accepted best practices. This Module outlines the basics of flexible
and rigid pavement construction in the following sections:

Flexible Pavements Rigid Pavements


surface preparation surface preparation
plant operations plant operations

mix transport mix transport

mix placement steel placement


compaction general procedures

fixed form paving

slipform paving

joints

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

2 Surface Preparation
Before a pavement is actually placed at the construction site the surface to be Major Topics on this Page
paved must be prepared. Adequate surface preparation is essential to long-
term pavement performance. Pavements constructed without adequate 2.1 Subgrade Preparation for New Pavements
surface preparation may not meet smoothness specifications, may not bond
to the existing pavement (in the case of overlays) or may fail because of 2.2 Existing Surface Preparation for Overlays
inadequate subgrade support. Surface preparation generally takes one of two 2.3 Summary
forms:

1. Preparing the subgrade and granular base course for new pavement. This can involve such activities as subgrade
stabilization (e.g., with lime, cement or emulsified asphalt), over-excavation of poor subgrade, applying a prime coat
or compacting the subgrade.

2. Preparing an existing pavement surface for overlay. This can involve such activities as removing a top layer
through milling, applying a leveling course, applying a tack coat, rubblizing or cracking and seating an underlying
rigid pavement, and replacing localized areas of extreme damage.

Specific actions for each method depend upon the pavement type and purpose, environmental conditions, subgrade conditions,
local experience and specifications.

2.1 Subgrade Preparation for New Pavements


The overall strength and performance of a pavement is dependent not only upon its design (including both mix design and
structural design) but also on the load-bearing capacity of the subgrade soil. Thus, anything that can be done to increase the
load-bearing capacity (or structural support) of the subgrade soil will most likely improve the pavement load-bearing capacity
and thus, pavement strength and performance. Additionally, greater subgrade structural capacity can result in thinner (but not
excessively thin) and more economical pavement structures. Finally, the finished subgrade should meet elevations, grades and
slopes specified in the contract plans. This subsection covers:

● Increasing subgrade support by compaction

● Increasing subgrade support by alternative means

● Subgrade elevation

● Primecoats for flexible pavements

● Other subgrade preparation practices

2.1.1 Increasing Subgrade Support - Compaction

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

In order to provide maximum structural support (as measured by MR,


CBR or R-value), a subgrade soil must be compacted to an adequate
density (see Figure 7.1). If it is not, the subgrade will continue to
compress, deform or erode after construction, causing pavement
cracks and deformation. Generally, adequate density is specified as a
relative density for the top 150 mm (6 inches) of subgrade of not less
than 95 percent of maximum density determined in the laboratory. In
fill areas, subgrade below the top 150 mm (6 inches) is often
considered adequate if it is compacted to 90 percent relative density.
In order to achieve these densities the subgrade must be at or near its
optimum moisture content (the moisture content at which maximum
density can be achieved). Usually compaction of in situ or fill
subgrade will result in adequate structural support.

2.1.2 Increasing Subgrade Support - Alternative Means


If the structural support offered by the in situ compacted subgrade is or is estimated to be inadequate, there are three options
(any one or combination of the three can be used):

1. Stabilization. The binding characteristics of these materials generally increase subgrade load-bearing capacity.
Typically, lime is used with highly plastic soils (plasticity index greater than 10), cement is used with less plastic
soils (plasticity index less than 10) and emulsified asphalt can be used with sandy soils. For flexible pavements, a
primecoat is not effective on silty clay or clay soils because the material cannot be absorbed into such a fine soil
(TRB, 2000).

2. Over-excavation. The general principle is to replace poor load-bearing in situ subgrade with better load-bearing
fill. Typically, 0.3 - 0.6 m (1 - 2 ft.) of poor soil may be excavated and replaced with better load-bearing fill such as
gravel borrow.

3. Add a base course and perhaps a subbase course over the subgrade. A base course offers additional load-bearing
capacity. New pavement structural designs often use some sort of granular base course unless subgrade structural
support is extremely good and expected loads are extremely low. Base courses are subjected to the same
compaction and elevation requirements as subgrade soils.

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

2.1.3 Subgrade Elevation


After final grading (often called fine-grading), the
subgrade elevation should generally conform closely to
the construction plan subgrade elevation (see Figure
7.2). Large elevation discrepancies should not be
compensated for by varying pavement or base thickness
because (1) HMA, PCC and aggregate are more
expensive than subgrade and (2) in the case of flexible
pavements, HMA compacts differentially – thicker areas
compact more than thinner areas, which will result in the
subgrade elevation discrepancies affecting final
pavement smoothness.

2.1.4 Primecoat - Flexible


Pavements
For flexible pavements, the graded subgrade or the top granular base layer may be prepared with a primecoat if necessary. A
primecoat is a sprayed application of a cutback or emulsion asphalt applied to the surface of untreated subgrade or base layers
(Asphalt Institute, 2001). Primecoats have three purposes (Asphalt Institute, 2001):

1. Fill the surface voids and protect the subbase from weather.

2. Stabilize the fines and preserve the subbase material.

3. Promotes bonding to the subsequent pavement layers.

Generally, if a flexible pavement is to be less than 100 mm (4 inches) thick and placed over an unbound material, a primecoat
is recommended (Asphalt Institute, 2001).

2.1.5 Other Subgrade Preparation Practices


Other good subgrade practices are (CAPA, 2000; APAW, 1995):

1. Ensure the compacted subgrade is able to support construction traffic. If the subgrade ruts excessively under
construction traffic it should be repaired before being paved over. Left unrepaired, subgrade ruts may reflectively
cause premature pavement rutting.

2. Remove all debris, large rocks, vegetation and topsoil from the area to be paved. These items either do not compact
well or cause non-uniform compaction and mat thickness.

3. Treat the subgrade under the area to be paved with an approved herbicide. This will prevent or at least retard
future vegetation growth, which could affect subgrade support or lead directly to pavement failure.

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

In summary, subgrade preparation should result in a material (1) capable of supporting loads without excessive deformation
and (2) graded to specified elevations and slopes.

2.2 Existing Surface Preparation for Overlays


Overlays make up a large portion of the roadway paving done today. The degree of surface preparation for an overlay is
dependent on the condition and type of the existing pavement. Generally, the existing pavement should be structurally sound,
level, clean and capable of bonding to the overlay. To meet these prerequisites, the existing pavement is usually repaired,
leveled (by milling, preleveling or both), cleaned and then coated with a binding agent. This subsection covers:

● Repair

● Tack coats

● Leveling (both by applying a leveling coarse and by milling)

● Flexible overlays on rigid pavement

● Rigid overlays on flexible pavement

2.2.1 Repair
Generally, pavement overlays are used to restore surface course (both flexible and rigid) characteristics (such as smoothness,
friction and aesthetics) or add structural support to an existing pavement. However, even a structural overlay needs to be
placed on a structurally sound base. If an existing pavement is cracked or provides inadequate structural support these defects
will often reflect through even the best-constructed overlay and cause premature pavement failure in the form of cracks and
deformations. To maximize an overlay’s useful life, failed sections of the existing pavements should be patched or replaced
and existing pavement cracks should be filled.

At most, overlays are designed to add only some structural support; the remaining structural support must reside in the existing
pavement. Therefore, small areas of localized structural failure in the existing pavement should be repaired or replaced to
provide this structural support (see Figure 7.3). Often, existing pavement failure may be caused by inadequate subgrade
support or poor subgrade drainage. In these cases, the existing pavement over the failed area should be removed and the
subgrade should be prepared as it would be for a new pavement.

Existing pavement crack repair methods depend upon the type and severity of cracks. Badly cracked pavement sections,

especially those with pattern cracking (e.g., fatigue cracking) or severe slab cracks, must be patched or replaced because these
distresses are often symptoms of more extensive pavement or subgrade structural failure (TRB, 2000). Existing cracks other
than those symptomatic of structural failure should be cleaned out (blown out with pressurized air and/or swept) and filled
with a crack-sealing material when the cracks are clean and dry (TRB, 2000). Cracks less than about 10 mm (0.375 inches) in
width may be too narrow for crack-sealing material to enter. These narrow cracks can be widened with a mechanical router
before sealing. If the existing pavement has an excessive amount of fine cracks but is still structurally adequate, it may be
more economical to apply a general bituminous surface treatment (BST) or slurry seal instead of filling each individual crack.

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

In all, pavement repair should be extensive enough to provide an


existing pavement with adequate structural support. Pavement
management techniques should provide for overlays before an
existing pavement has lost most or all of its structural support
capability.

2.2.2 Tack Coats


Before overlaying, a tack coat should be placed on an existing
pavement to ensure adequate bonding of the overlay to the
existing pavement surface. Proper tack coat application can be
critical to long-term pavement performance.

Figure 7.3: Repairing Failed Pavement


Sections Before Overlay
2.2.3 Leveling
The existing pavement should be made as smooth as possible before being overlaid. It is difficult to make up elevation
differences or smooth out ruts by varying overlay thickness. For flexible overlays, HMA tends to differentially compact; a
rule of thumb is that conventional mixes will compact approximately 6 mm per 25 mm (0.25 inches per 1 inch) of
uncompacted thickness (TRB, 2000). Therefore, before applying the final surface course the existing pavement is typically
leveled by one or both of the following methods:

1. Applying a leveling course (flexible pavements). The first lift applied to the existing pavement is used to fill in ruts
and make up elevation differences. The top of this lift, which is relatively smooth, is used as the base for the
wearing course.

2. Milling (flexible pavements). A top layer is milled off the existing pavement to provide a relatively smooth surface
on which to pave. Milling is also commonly used to remove a distressed surface layer from an existing pavement.

3. Diamond grinding (rigid pavements). A thin top layer can be milled off of an existing pavement to smooth out
relatively small surface distortions prior to flexible or rigid overlay.

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

2.2.3.1 Leveling Course -


Flexible Pavements

Leveling courses (or prelevel) are initial lifts placed directly on to the existing pavement to fill low spots in the pavement (see
Figure 7.4). Typically, pavers use an automatic screed control, which keeps the screed tow point constant regardless of the
tractor unit’s vertical position. This allows the paver to drive over a rough, uneven pavement yet place a relatively smooth lift
with extra HMA making up for low spots in the existing pavement.

Leveling course lifts need to be as thick as the deepest low spot but not so thick that they are difficult to compact. Because it
is not the final wearing course, leveling course elevation and grade are sometimes not tightly specified or controlled.
However, contractors and inspectors alike should pay close attention to leveling course thickness because an excessively thick
leveling course can lead to large overruns in HMA and thus large overruns in project budget.

Although leveling courses can help produce a smoother pavement, they suffer from the previously discussed differential
compaction and therefore may not entirely solve the smoothness problem.

2.2.3.2 Milling - Flexible Pavements

Milling (also called grinding or cold planing) can be used to smooth an existing flexible pavement prior to flexible or rigid
overlays. Rather than filling in low spots, as a leveling course does, milling removes the high points in an existing pavement
to produce a relatively smooth surface. For flexible pavements, milling can help eliminate differential compaction problems.

Milling machines are the primary method for removing old flexible pavement surface material prior to overlay (Roberts et al.,
1996). They can be fitted with automatic grade control to restore both longitudinal and transverse grade and can remove most
existing pavement distortions such as rutting, bumps, deteriorated surface material or stripping. The primary advantages of
milling are (Roberts et al., 1996):

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

1. Eliminates the need for complicated leveling courses and problems with quantity estimates for irregular leveling
course thicknesses used to fill existing pavement depressions.

2. Provides RAP for recycling operations.

3. Allows efficient removal of deteriorated flexible pavement material that is unsuitable for retention in the pavement
structure.

4. Provides a highly skid resistant surface suitable for temporary use by traffic until the final surface can be placed.

5. Allows curb and gutter lines to be maintained or reestablished before flexible overlays.

6. Provides an efficient removal technique for material near overhead structures in order to maintain clearances for
bridge structures, traffic signals and overhead utilities.

The basic components of a milling machine are a cutting drum to mill the existing pavement, a vacuum to collect the milled
particles and a conveyance system to transport the milled particles to a dump truck for hauling (see Figure 7.5, 7.6 and 7.7).
Table 7.1 shows ranges for some key milling machine parameters, Figures 7.8 and 7.9 show two milling machine examples,
Figures 7.10 and 7.11 show milled pavements and Video 7.1 shows the basic milling process.

Table 7.1: Milling Machine Parameter Ranges (from ARRA, 2001)

Specification Typical Range Comments

Cut Width 75 mm (3 inches) to Drums come in specific widths. Varying widths can be made with
4.5 m (14 feet) multiple passes.

Cut Depth up to 250 mm It is easier to make several shallow passes than one deep pass.
(10 inches) per pass

100 to 200 tons/hr


Production Rate Depends on machine and pavement conditions.
for large machines

95% passing the


Material Size After Milling Typical size.
50 mm (2-inch) sieve

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

7.5: Milling Machine Components

Figure 7.6: Milling Machine Cutting Drum Figure 7.7: Milling Machine Cutting Teeth

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

Figure 7.8: Small Milling Machine Figure 7.9: Large Milling Machine

Figure 7.10: Milled road showing complete removal of the Figure 7.11: Milled road in preparation for HMA overlay.
HMA overlay, which exposes the PCC slabs beneath. Notice some areas of the previous HMA overlay remain.

Video 7.1 Milling Machine

After a pavement has been milled the resulting surface is quite dirty and dusty. The surface should be cleaned off by sweeping
or washing before any overlay is placed otherwise the dirt and dust will decrease the bond between the new overlay and the
existing pavement (see Figure 7.12 and 7.13). When sweeping, more than one pass is typically needed to remove all the dirt
and dust. If the milled surface is washed, the pavement must be allowed to dry prior to paving.

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

Figure 7.13: Washing the Existing Surface Prior


Figure 7.12: Sweeping the Existing Surface Prior to Overlay
to Overlay

Milling also produces a rough, grooved surface, which will increase the existing pavement’s surface area when compared to an
ungrooved surface. The surface area increase is dependent on the type, number, condition and spacing of cutting drum teeth
but is typically in the range of 20 to 30 percent, which requires a corresponding increase in tack coat (20 to 30 percent more)
when compared to an unmilled surface (TRB, 2000).

2.2.3.3 Leveling Course vs. Milling

For many situations, milling may be a superior alternative to a leveling course. Leveling course quantities are difficult to
accurately estimate and leveling course thicknesses are usually small, precluding the use of nuclear gauge density testing.
Thus, adequate mix density is difficult to achieve and measure. In some overlay projects a combination of milling and
leveling course application may be best.

2.2.3.4 Diamond Grinding - Rigid Pavements

Although typically used for rigid pavement surface restoration, diamond grinding can be used to eliminate relatively small
surface distortions in existing rigid pavement prior to flexible or rigid overlays. Because it roughens the existing rigid
pavement surface, diamond grinding also improves the bond between the existing pavement and the overlay. Non-overlay
applications of diamond grinding are covered in Module 10, Section 4, Rigid - Maintenance.

2.2.4 Flexible Overlays on Rigid Pavement


Placing a flexible overlay on a jointed rigid pavement involves some special considerations in addition to the usual repair and
leveling. jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP) is placed in discrete slabs and both JPCP and continuously reinforced
concrete pavement (CRCP) tend to crack into discrete sections. These slabs/sections tend to move as individual units.
Although flexible overlays can accommodate small differential subgrade movement without cracking, the large differential

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

movement at slab and crack interfaces is great enough to crack a flexible overlay (called reflection cracking). There are
several techniques to prevent (or at least delay the onset of) reflection cracking:

● Prevent the slabs or sections from moving by stabilizing the material beneath them. This involves drilling holes in
an unstable PCC slab or section and injecting an asphaltic or cementitious material to fill any underlying voids.
Typically, this method is only an option for isolated instances of instability. It does not work well as a general
roadway treatment.

● Make the flexible structure strong enough to resist cracking. This usually involves extra granular base layers
between the flexible overlay and the existing rigid pavement or extremely thick flexible layers, both of which are
often not cost effective. Even if these types of preventative measures are used, they still cannot be guaranteed to
prevent reflective cracking.

WSDOT Flexible Overlay on Rigid Pavement Experience

WSDOT's experience is that reflection cracking has generally not been a problem if the
flexible overlay is at least 100 mm (4 inches) thick. Thinner overlays have exhibited
reflection cracking.

● Crack/break and seat the underlying rigid pavement. This involves breaking the underlying rigid pavement into
relatively small pieces (on the order of about 0.3 m2 to 0.6 m2 (1 ft2 to 2 ft2) by repeatedly dropping a large weight
(see Figure 7.14). The pieces are then seated by 2 to 3 passes of a large rubber tired roller. The result is a pavement
made of small firmly-seated pieces (see Figure 7.15). Video 7.2 briefly shows the process.

● Rubblize the underlying rigid pavement. This involves reducing the underlying rigid pavement to rubble. This
rubble is then used as a high quality base course to support the flexible overlay. Rubblizing is typically done with
one of the following two pieces of equipment:

❍ Resonant pavement breaker (see Figure 7.16 and Video 7.3). This equipment strikes the rigid pavement
at low amplitude with a small plate at the resonant frequency of the slab (usually about 44 Hz) causing the
slab to break apart (see Figure 7.17) (Roberts et al., 1996). Usually it takes about 14 to 18 passes for a
resonant pavement breaker to rubblize an entire 3.6 m (12 ft.) lane (NCAT, 2001).

❍ Multi-head breaker (MHB) (see Figures 7.18, 7.19 and Video 7.4). This equipment uses a series of
independently controlled high amplitude drop hammers to smash the slab. Typically, there are between
12 and 16 hammers, each weighing between 450 - 680 kg (1000 - 1500 lbs.). Hammers can be dropped
from variable heights (0.3 - 1.5 m (1 - 5 ft.)) to create impact energies between 2,700 - 16,300 N-m
(2,000 - 12,000 ft.-lbs.). Hammers cycle at a rate of 30 - 35 impacts per minute. MHBs can
rubblize an entire lane (up to 4 m (13 ft.)) in a single pass (Antigo Construction, 2001).

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

Figure 7.14: Drop Hammer Used for Cracking and Seating Figure 7.15: PCC Pavement After Cracking and Seating with
PCC Drop Hammer

Video 7.2: Drop Hammer Used for Breaking and Seating PCC
(video has no sound)

Figure 7.16: Resonant Pavement Breaker Used to Rubblize Figure 7.17: PCC Pavement After Rubblization With a
PCC Pavement Resonant Pavement Breaker

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

Figure 7.19: Multi-Head Breaker with Following "Grid"


Figure 7.18: Multi-Head Breaker
Roller Used to Crush and Compact the Resulting Rubble

Video 7.3: Rubblizing Process Video 7.4: Multi-Head Breaker

A 38-state survey published in 1999 (Ksaibati, Miley and Armaghani, 1999) revealed the following about rigid pavement
rubblizing:

● Distresses in the subsequent flexible overlay such as fatigue cracking and rutting are most often traced to a weak
subgrade. This subgrade is also the most likely cause of the original rigid pavement distress. Rubblization is risky
when subgrade support conditions are not well known.

● A majority of rubblized particles are in the 25.4 - 76.2 mm (1 - 3 inch) range, although particles near pavement
edged or under existing reinforcing steel can be as large as 380 mm (15 inches).

● Rubblizing is generally better than cracking and seating for reducing reflective cracking.

Given the expense of these techniques, some agencies just choose to live with joint reflection cracking rather than prevent it.
This is especially true on low volume, low speed roads where ride smoothness and structural integrity may not be given the
high priority they are on high volume, high speed roads like interstates.

2.2.5 Rigid Overlays on Flexible Pavement (from ACPA, 2001b)

2.2.5.1 Unbonded Overlays

Unbonded rigid overlays do not require much surface preparation, which is one of the principal reasons they are used.

2.2.5.2 Bonded Overlays

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7.2 Pavement Construction - Surface Preparation

Bonded rigid overlays of flexible pavement require several additional considerations. First, the success of a bonded overlay is
contingent on a good bond between the rigid overlay and the underlying flexible pavement. In order to develop this bond, the
underlying flexible pavement must have a clean, rough surface. Preferably, the flexible pavement should be milled, however,
as a minimum, water or abrasive blasting should be used to clean the HMA surface. If water blasting is used, the surface must
be allowed to air dry before the PCC is placed.

Once the flexible pavement surface is clean, it must be kept clean until the bonded overlay is placed. Dust,
dirt and debris that falls or blows onto the asphalt surface must be removed. If the surface is cleaned on
the day prior to paving, air cleaning may be required on the day of paving to remove dirt and dust. If traffic
is allowed on the milled surface, the surface must be cleaned again prior to paving.

2.3 Summary
Pavements should be placed only on properly prepared surfaces to ensure they perform properly. Pavements constructed on
inadequately prepared surfaces may be excessively rough, may not bond to the existing pavement (in the case of overlays) or
may fail because of inadequate subgrade support. For a new pavement, surface preparation involves compacting, grading and
possibly stabilizing the underlying subgrade. For an overlay, surface preparation involves repairing, leveling and cleaning the
existing pavement.

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7.3 Flexible Pavement Construction - Plant Operations

3 Flexible - Plant Operations


HMA production is the first step in construction. The Major Topics on this Page
basic purpose of an HMA plant is to properly
proportion, blend, and heat aggregate and asphalt to 3.1 Batch Plants
produce an HMA that meets the requirements of the
job mix formula (JMF) (Roberts et al., 1996). There 3.2 Drum Plants
are two basic types of HMA plants commonly in use
today: the batch plant, and the drum mix plant. Batch plants produce HMA in individual batches while
drum plants produce HMA in a continuous operation. Each type of plant can produce the same types of
HMA and neither type of plant should impart any significant plant-specific HMA characteristics. The
choice of a batch or drum mix plant depends upon business factors such as purchase price, operating
costs, production requirements and the need for flexibility in local markets; both can produce quality
HMA. This section gives a brief overview of batch and drum mix plants. More detailed information on
plant operations can be found in:

● Transportation Research Board (TRB). (2000). Hot-Mix Asphalt Paving Handbook 2000.
Transportation Research Board, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.

● Roberts, F.L., Kandhal, P.S., Brown, E.R., Lee, D.Y., and Kennedy, T.W. (1996). Hot Mix
Asphalt Materials, Mixture Design, and Construction. National Asphalt Pavement
Association Research and Education Foundation. Lanham, MD.

3.1 Batch Plants


Batch plants, which produce HMA in individual batches, are the older of the two types of HMA
production facilities. HMA was originally made in batches; it was not until the 1970s that drum plants
became a popular HMA production option. Currently about 70 percent of all operational HMA plants in
the U.S. are batch plants while about 95 percent of all newly manufactured plants in the U.S. are drum
plants (Roberts, et al., 1996). This means that as older batch plants are retired they are more than likely
to be replaced by new drum plants, which can provide greater mobility and production capacity. Typical
batch quantities range from 1.5 to 5 tons of HMA. Figure 7.18 shows the basic components of a batch
plant and their functions.

3.2 Drum Plants


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7.3 Flexible Pavement Construction - Plant Operations

Drum plants, which produce HMA in a continuous manner, generally offer higher production rates than
batch plants for comparable cost. Typical production rates for drum plants vary between about 100 tons/
hr up to over 900 tons/hr depending upon drum design. Figure 7.19 shows the basic components of a
drum plant and their functions.

Figure 7.20: Batch Plant Figure 7.21: Drum Plant


Interactive Picture Interactive Picture
(click figure to launch) (click figure to launch)

Video 7.5: Drum Plant Burner

This burner is running on diesel fuel, which results


in a bright orange flame. A natural gas flame would
be essentially invisible. Burners like these can reach
temperatures in excess of 760°C (1400°F). Typical
HMA temperatures out of the drum are on the order
of 150 - 160°C (300 - 325°F).

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7.3 Flexible Pavement Construction - Plant Operations

Figure 7.22: Infrared View of a Drum Mix Plant

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

4 Flexible - Transport
Mix transport involves all actions and equipment required to convey HMA Major Topics on this Page
from a production facility to a paving site including truck loading, weighing
and ticketing, hauling to the paving site, dumping of the mix into the paver or 4.1 Truck Types
material transfer vehicle hopper, and truck return to the HMA production
facility (Roberts et al., 1996). Ideally, the goal of mix transport should be to 4.2 Operational Considerations
maintain mix characteristics between the production facility and the paving 4.3 Summary
site. Transport practices can have a profound effect on mix temperature at the
paving site, aggregate and/or temperature segregation of the mix and mat quality. This section will discuss the types of trucks
used for mix transport and the various considerations involved with mix transport.

4.1 Truck Types


There are three basic truck types used for mix transport classified by their respective HMA discharge methods:

● End dump

● Bottom dump (or belly dump

● Live bottom (or flo-boy)

4.1.1 End Dump Truck


End dump trucks unload their payload by raising the front end and letting the payload slide down the bottom of the bed and out
the back through the tailgate (see Figure 7.23 and Video 7.6). End dump trucks are the most popular transport vehicle type
because they are plentiful, maneuverable and versatile. Some general considerations associated with end dump trucks are:

1. When the bed is raised it should


not contact the paver. Bed
contact with the paver may
affect the screed tow point
elevation, which can affect mat
smoothness.

2. The truck bed should be raised


slightly before the tailgate is
opened. This allows the HMA
to slide back against the tailgate,
which will cause it to flood into
the paver hopper when the
tailgate is opened. HMA that
trickles into the paver hopper is

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

more susceptible to aggregate


segregation.

3. Truck-paver contact should be


established by allowing the
paver to move forward into a
stationary truck. This ensures
that the truck does not bump the
paver too hard and cause the
paver to lurch to a sudden stop,
which could cause a rough spot
in the mat.

4. Once the paver and truck are in


contact, they should remain in
contact. This ensures that no
HMA is accidentally spilled in
front of the paver because of a
gap between the truck and Figure 7.23: End Dump Truck
paver. Usually the truck driver
will apply the truck’s brakes
hard enough to offer some resistance to the paver but light enough so as not to cause the paver tracks to slip from
excessive resistance. Most pavers can also be coupled to an unloading truck using truck hitches located on or near the
push rollers.

Video 7.6: End Dump Truck

4.1.2 Bottom Dump Truck


Bottom dump trucks (see Figure 7.24) unload their payload by opening gates on the bottom of the bed. Internal bed walls are
sloped to direct the entire payload out through the opened gates. Discharge rates can be controlled by the degree of gate opening
and the speed of the truck during discharge. The discharge is usually placed in an elongated pile, called a windrow (see Figure
7.25), in front of the paver by driving the truck forward during discharge.

A windrow elevator is used to pick up HMA from the windrow and feed it into the paver hopper. Windrow elevators do not
have any method of regulating material flow, which makes it necessary to place the correct amount of HMA in the windrow to
match the paving width and depth being placed without allowing the paver hopper to run out of mix or become overloaded
(TRB, 2000).

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Figure 7.24: Bottom Dump Truck in an Urban Setting Figure 7.25: Windrow made by emptying a bottom dump truck

4.1.3 Live Bottom Dump Truck


Live bottom (or flo-boy) dump trucks (see Figure 7.26) have a conveyor system at the bottom of their bed to unload their
payload. HMA is discharged out the back of the bed without raising the bed (see Video 7.7). Live bottom trucks are more
expensive to use and maintain because of the conveyor system but they also can reduce segregation problems (because the HMA
is moved in a large mass) and can eliminate potential truck bed – paver contact (because the bed is not raised during discharge).

Video 7.7: Live Bottom Truck Unloading


Figure 7.26: Live Bottom Truck

Each truck type is capable of adequately delivering HMA from a production facility to a paving site. However, certain situations
such as the ones listed in Table 7.2 below, may make one truck type advantageous over another.

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Table 7.2: Truck Type Situations

Situation Possible Truck Type Reason

Better maneuverability because it has no


Paving on congested city streets End Dump trailer and is smaller than a bottom dump
or live bottom truck.

Live bottom trucks deliver the HMA by


Paving using a mix highly vulnerable to segregation Live Bottom
conveyor, which minimizes segregation.

Usually has a larger capacity than end


dump trucks (therefore fewer trucks are
Paving on rural highways Bottom Dump
needed) but requires space and
equipment for windrows.

4.2 Operational Considerations


There are several mix transport considerations, or best practices, that are essential to maintaining HMA characteristics between
the production facility and the paving site. These considerations can generally be placed into four categories:

● Loading at the production facility

● Transport within the truck

● Unloading at the paving site

● Operation synchronization

4.2.1 Loading at the Production Facility


Loading at the production facility involves transferring HMA from the storage silo or batcher (for batch plants) to the transport
truck. There are two potential issues with this transfer:

1. Truck bed cleanliness and lubrication. Truck beds should be clean and lubricated to prevent the introduction of
foreign substances into the HMA and to prevent the HMA from sticking to the truck bed. Non-petroleum based
products should be used for lubrication such as lime water, soapy water or other suitable commercial products
(Roberts et al., 1996). Petroleum based products, such as diesel fuel, should not be used because of environmental
issues and because they tend to break down the asphalt binder.

2. Aggregate segregation. HMA should be discharged into the truck bed so as to minimize segregation. Dropping HMA
from the storage silo or batcher (for batch plants) in one large mass creates a single pile of HMA in the truck bed (see

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Figure 7.27 and Video 7.8). Large-sized aggregate tends to roll off this pile and collect around the base. Dropping
HMA in several smaller masses (three is typical) at different points in the truck bed will largely prevent the collection
of large aggregate in one area and thus minimize aggregate segregation.

Figure 7.27: Truck Loading Under a Storage Silo Video 7.8: Truck Loading Close-up

4.2.2 Truck Transport


Truck transport affects HMA characteristics through cooling. HMA is usually loaded into a truck at a fairly uniform
temperature between 250°F to 350°F (see Figure 7.28). During transport, heat is transferred to the surrounding environment by
convection and radiation and the HMA surface temperature drops. This cooler HMA surface insulates the interior mass and thus
transported HMA tends to develop a cool thin crust on the surface that surrounds a much hotter core (see Figures 7.29 and 7.30
and Video 7.9). Things such as air temperature, rain, wind and length of haul can affect the characteristics and temperature of
this crust. Several measures that can be taken to minimize HMA cooling during transport are:

1. Minimize haul distance. This can be accomplished by choosing an HMA production facility as close as possible to the
paving site. Closer production facilities create shorter haul times and result in less HMA cooling during transport.
Unfortunately, many paving locations may not be near any existing production facilities and economics may prohibit
the use of a mobile production facility.

2. Insulate truck beds. This can decrease HMA heat loss during transport. Insulation as simple as a sheet of plywood
has been used.

3. Place a tarpaulin over the truck bed. A tarp over the truck bed (see Figure 7.31) provides additional insulation,
protects the HMA from rain and decreases heat loss. A study by the Quality Improvement Committee of the National
Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) studied truck tarping and found that the HMA surface temperatures of tarped
loads dropped more slowly than untarped loads but temperatures 100 mm (4 inches) below the surface between tarped
and untarped loads were not significantly different (Minor, 1980).

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Figure 7.28: Infrared picture of an HMA storage silo loading a Figure 7.29: Infrared picture of a truck dumping HMA showing
truck showing the hot uniform temperature of the mix the cold surface layer crust (blue) and the hot inner mass (red)

Figure 7.30: Infrared picture of a truck dumping HMA showing Figure 7.31: Driver covering his truck bed with a tarpaulin
the cold surface layer crust (blue) and the hot inner mass (red)

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Video 7.9: Temperature Differentials

In most cases, truck transport appears to cool only the surface of the transported HMA mass, however this cool surface crust can
have detrimental effects on overall mat quality if not properly dealt with. Actions such as reducing transport time, insulating
truck beds or tarping trucks can decrease HMA surface cooling rate. Additionally, since the majority of the HMA mass is still at
or near its original temperature at loading, mixing the crust and interior mass together at the paving site (“remixing”) will
produce a uniform mix near the original temperature at loading.

4.2.3 Unloading at the Paving Site


HMA unloading involves those procedures discussed in Section 4.1.1, End Dump Truck as well as a few other basic
considerations such as:

1. HMA should be unloaded quickly when it arrives at the paving site. This will minimize mix cooling before it is
placed.

2. Before HMA is loaded into the paver, the inspector and/or foreman should be certain it is the correct mix.
Occasionally, paving jobs require several different mix designs (i.e., one for the leveling course and one for the
wearing course) and these mixes should not be interchanged.

4.2.4 Operation Synchronization


Ideally, HMA production at the plant, truck transport and laydown at the paving machine should be synchronized to the same
rate to minimize accumulation of excess HMA in any one of the three segments. Realistically, however, this synchronization
can be quite difficult because of varying laydown rates, unpredictable truck travel times and variable plant production. Detailed
information on operation synchronization can be found in:

● National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). (1996). Balancing Production Rates in Hot Mix Asphalt
Operations, IS 120. National Asphalt Pavement Association. Landham, MD.

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

Ideally, all operations are designed to meet optimal mat laydown rates. However, these rates can vary based on paving width
and lift thickness. Also, complicated paving locations such as intersections or near manholes and utility vaults can temporarily
increase or decrease the laydown rate.

Truck transport should be planned such that the HMA transport rate (expressed in tons/hr) closely matches plant production rate
and laydown rate. Some factors to consider are:

● Number of trucks to be used.

● Truck type.

● Average truck hauling capacity.

● Production facility output rate.

● Availability and condition of storage silos at the production facility.

● Time to lubricate the truck bed before transport.

● Waiting time at the production facility.

● Loading, weighing and ticketing time at the production facility.

● Time to cover the load (when tarpaulins are used).

● Distance between the production facility and the paving site.

● Average truck speed.

Traffic plays a large role in HMA delivery rates because it affects truck speed. Especially in congested urban areas, heavy and/
or unpredictable traffic may substantially increase, or at least vary, truck travel time. As truck travel time increases, more trucks
are needed to provide a given HMA delivery rate. Therefore, as traffic gets worse, trucking costs increase. Additionally, the
unpredictability of traffic may result in either long paver idle times as it waits for the next truckload of HMA or large truck
backups as several trucks all reach the paving site or production facility at the same time.

Finally, production facility output is typically controlled to match haul or laydown rate. However, this can result in suboptimal
plant efficiency or HMA uniformity, which may increase plant exhaust output, shorten emission control device lifetimes, and
affect contractual payment if payment is tied to HMA uniformity. It may often be more economical to run the production
facility at maximum rate and store excess material in storage silos for discharge into trucks as they arrive. Storage silo
insulation has progressed to a state where dense-graded HMA can be stored in them for up to a week at a time without
significantly affecting HMA characteristics. However, gap graded mixes such as SMA or OGFC should still not be stored for
more than about 2 to 3 hours.

In sum, synchronization should be the goal but it is often difficult to achieve (based on varying laydown rates, haul time and
traffic) and may result in plant inefficiency and HMA quality degradation. If a production facility has modern well-insulated,
airtight storage silos and is producing a dense-graded HMA, it may be beneficial to run the plant at maximum production rate
and store the mix until needed rather than try and match haul or laydown rate.

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7.4 Flexible Pavement Construction - Transport

4.3 Summary
Mix transport can have a large impact on flexible pavement construction quality and efficiency. Mix characteristics such as
laydown temperature, aggregate segregation and temperature differentials are largely determined by transport practices. In
general, there are three types of HMA transport trucks: the end dump, bottom dump and live bottom dump (flo boy). End dump
trucks are most common, however bottom dumps and live bottom dumps are well-suited for certain situations. Key
considerations in mix transport are:

● Truck bed cleanliness and lubrication.

● Proper mix loading techniques in order to prevent aggregate segregation.

● Haul distance and mix temperature.

● Timely mix unloading and unloading of the correct mix.

If properly managed, mix transport can successfully move HMA from the production facility to the paving site with little or no
change in mix characteristics.

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7.5 Flexible Pavement Construction - Placement

5 Flexible - Placement
Mix placement and compaction are the two most important elements in HMA Major Topics on this Page
pavement construction. Mix placement involves any equipment or procedures
used to place the delivered HMA on the desired surface at the desired thickness. 5.1 Placement Considerations
Mix placement can involve complicated asphalt paver operations or simple
manual shoveling. This section provides a basic description of HMA placement 5.2 Asphalt Paver
operations. The Hot Mix Asphalt Paving Handbook (TRB, 2000) and the Asphalt 5.3 Material Transfer Vehicles (MTV)
Institute's HMA Construction manual (2001) contains detailed information on
asphalt paver components. 5.4 Summary

5.1 Placement Considerations


There are, of course, many considerations to take into account when placing HMA. Many are dependent upon local materials,
weather, crew knowledge and training, and individual experience. This subsection presents a few of the basic considerations that
apply in virtually all situations:

● Lift thickness. A "lift" refers to a layer of pavement as placed by the asphalt paver. In order to avoid mat tearing (which
generally shows up as a series of longitudinal streaks) a good rule-of-thumb is that the depth of the compacted lift should
be at least twice the maximum aggregate size or three times the nominal maximum aggregate size (TRB, 2000).

WSDOT Minimum Lift Thickness Requirements

WSDOT has established the following minimum lift thicknesses:

WSDOT Mix Class Minimum Lift Thickness

25 mm (1 inch Superpave) 75 mm (0.25 ft)

19 mm (0.75 inch Superpave) 60 mm (0.20 ft)

12.5 mm (0.5 inch Superpave) 36 mm (0.12 ft)

9.5 mm (0.375 inch Superpave) 25 mm (0.08 ft)

Class A or B 36 mm (0.12 ft)

Class D 18 mm (0.06 ft)

Class E 60 mm (0.20 ft)

Class F 36 mm (0.12 ft)

Class G 18 mm (0.06 ft)

● Longitudinal joints. The interface between two adjacent and parallel HMA mats. Improperly constructed longitudinal
joints can cause premature deterioration of multilane HMA pavements in the form of cracking and raveling.

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7.5 Flexible Pavement Construction - Placement

● Handwork. HMA can be placed by hand in situations where the paver cannot place it adequately. This can often occur
around utilities, around intersection corners and in other tight spaces. Hand-placing should be minimized because it is
prone to aggregate segregation and results in a slightly rough surface texture. If hand placement is necessary the
following precautions should be taken (Asphalt Institute, 2001):

❍ Place the HMA in a pile far enough away from the placement area that the whole pile must be moved. If the
pile is