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Paper No.



Development of Load Equivalence Factors (LEF) for Accelerated Loading Facility (ALF) and Full-Scale Test Road

Authors: Jian-Shiuh Chen and Ming-Shen Shiah Department of Civil Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 70101, Taiwan, R.O.C.


The Accelerated Loading Facility (ALF), located at the Federal Highway Administration Turner-Fairbank Research Center, was used to simulate the effect of traffic on pavement performance. Data from two full-scale tests roads (i.e., the

AASHO Road Test and one conducted in Taiwan) were also compared with these from the ALF. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to investigate the

difference between ALF and in-service pavements, and (2) to evaluate the effect of heavy traffic loading on pavement distress. An enhanced procedure was developed in this study to calculate the load equivalence factors (LEF). Results indicated that

this procedure is feasible to evaluate the effect of heavy axle loadings on pavement performance under an accelerated rate. ALF pavement performance followed the trend observed on full-scale test roads. Based on present serviceability index (PSI) loss of the ALF pavement performance data, it was found that an eighth power law existed for the ALF in contrast to the forth-power law in full-scale test roads. This

implied that the LEF for ALF single-axle load of the same configuration was equal to the ratio of the axle weights raised to the eighth power. This finding explained why Critical

pavements tested by the ALF failed much faster than regulated loading.

loads, however, appeared to be present for pavements tested by the ALF. Pavements tested beyond the critical load might fail predominantly by traffic loading.

Key words: load equivalence factors, Accelerated Loading Facility, pavement performance, test road


The first author is very grateful for the Federal Highway Administration providing research fellowship during his study in the U.S. Special thanks are also extended to the National Science Council and the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau for their supports.


In recent years accelerated pavement testing (APT) devices have been developed to characterize material properties and pavement performance in a short period of time. Using APT, it is possible to traffic a pavement section such that 20 years of serviceability loss can be obtained in several weeks or months. These devices

including the Accelerated Loading Facility (ALF), the French Manege de Fatigue and the Mobile Load Simulator are successfully used to modify pavement design procedures. Evidences have demonstrated the cost effectiveness of APT as a There exists, however, a difference

component of pavement research (1-4).

between APT and in-service performance because the effects of environment, age and traffic cannot be isolated on a highway. The effects of the APT loading on pavement performance are usually estimated using a system based on the AASHO Road Test data collected in the late 1950s. Among the principal results of the AASHO Road Test is the concept of an equivalent single-axle load (ESAL) to measure the effect of axle loads on pavements. A more specific result is the development the load equivalence factors (LEF) (5-7). LEF

represents the ratio of the number of repetitions of any axle load and configuration, to the number of applications of the standard 80-kN (18,000-lb) single-axle load necessary to cause a specified reduction in serviceability. The ratio between the

AASHTO LEF for any two-axle loads of the same configuration is thought to be approximated by the fourth-power law. This function implies that the ratio between

the LEF for any two-axle loads of the same configuration equals the ratio of the axle weights raised to the fourth power. life for mixed traffic. LEF can be, then, used to estimate pavement

To understand the difference between APT and in-service

pavement performance, it is imperative to establish load equivalencies for APT. Furthermore, a full-scale test road should be constructed to compare APT LEF with one obtained from highways. The Accelerated Loading Facility was used as APT in this study, and a full-scale test road was constructed to collect data representing conditions on an existing highway. Results from the AASHO Road Test were also compared to With the data

evaluate the effect of traffic loading on pavement performance.

collected above, Figure 1 shows the research flowchart to decide the load equivalence factors. The objectives of this study were as follows:

l l l l

To develop a procedure to calculate LEF, To establish LEF for the ALF and the full-scale test road, To assess the impact of heavy traffic loading on pavement performance, To compare the difference between ALF and in-service pavement performance.


Pavement Testing Facilities (PTF)

The pavement testing facilities (PTF) were a full-scale pavement testing laboratory located at the FHWAs Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia. The purpose of the facility is to quantify the performance of pavements trafficked with an accelerated rate of heavy axle loadings. Formal operation of the facility began in October 1986. The PTF consists of the Accelerated Loading

Facility (ALF) test machine, two 60-m long instrumented bituminous concrete test lanes, and a computer controlled data acquisition system. Each lane of the facility was divided into four subsections for a total of eight pavement test sections (2,9). The ALF test machine is used to simulate traffic loading. This machine models

one-half of a single-axle with dual wheels and can apply loads ranging from 42 to 100 kN (9.4 to 22.5 kip). The ALF wheel assembly travels 21 km/hr and traffics a 20-m section of pavement in one direction. simulate real traffic. The loads are normally moved to

The transverse position of the wheels can be varied across a

120-cm wheelpath with a standard deviation of 13 cm. The machine is controlled by a microcomputer, permitting operation when the facility is unmanned. The test sections represented typical highway pavements and were constructed using normal highway materials, equipments, and procedures. Lane 1 was

designed as a thin pavement with a 12-cm asphalt concrete (AC) surface and 12-cm crushed-aggregate base (CAB); Lane 2 as a thick pavement with an 18-cm AC surface and 30-cm CAB. Both pavements were constructed on a uniform AASHTO

classification A-4(0) subgrade.

The data acquisition system and pavement

instrumentation permit routine monitoring of environmental, pavement performance, and pavement response data. Customized software was developed for acquiring, reducing, and storing the data. Table 1 presents the PTF data. (100 psi) tire pressure. All six sections were tested under 690 kPa

There were five different applied ALF wheel loads on the

test pavements: 51, 63, 73, 85 and 96 kN. Because ALF models one-half of a single axle with dual wheel, the single axle load should be 102, 126, 146, 170 and 192 kN (46, 56, 65, 76 and 86 kip) respectively. Reference to specific pavement

sections is based on lane number and loading; for example, L1-102 refers to the section of Lane 1 under a 102-kN load.

Full-Scale Test Road

Monitoring in-service pavements is one of the best methods for gaining data on how pavements perform over time under real environmental and traffic conditions. The

Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau (TANFB) started constructing a 4-km full-scale pavement test section on the Sun Yat-Sen National Freeway in June 1997. The researchers participating in this project and the TANFB field engineers developed the experimental design. Pavement sections from 251K+850 to

255K+850 in the south bound were selected for the field studies. The test sections on this 6-lane highway represented typical traffic and environmental conditions that pavements experience in Taiwan. These sections were constructed with one type These materials were similar to

of hot-mix asphalt mixtures with dense gradation.

ones used in the PTF. Pavements were consisted of a 15-cm HMA concrete course over a 25-cm bitumen-treated base course. Six cores were taken from each section to extract asphalts for further testing. Distress surveys were conducted every three months. The surveys including

transverse profiles, longitudinal profiles and the number and severity of cracks were performed. Profiles were obtained with a semiautomatic device. Three transverse profiles were collected for each section. Data were collected from pavement survey

reports that were carefully documented by the engineer on the field, and, later on, double checked for any ambiguity or error. Traffic volume and loading, environment

conditions and material properties were closely monitored.


Based upon data collected from field and laboratory investigation, it is possible to develop performance-based models LEF. The pavement performance due to

different traffic loading can be estimated using correlations of various types of distress, such as fatigue cracking and rutting, and the predicted viscoelastic pavement response. The extensive literature review of existing practices has

revealed that the most common mechanistic responses used to determine load equivalency factors for pavement design are as follow (10-15):

l l l

Maximum vertical strain on the tope of the subgrade, Maximum tensile strain at the bottom of the pavement layer, Maximum surface vertical deflection,

Maximum tensile stress in a concrete pavement.

Basic Definition

LEF is the ratio of two unit damages under two different load repetitions to failure, say, Ni and Nj. With respect to LEF, there exists a relationship between the ratio of unit damages and the ratio of two different loads (Li and Lj respectively). the following procedure can be used to calculate LEF: Therefore,

L j LEF = Ni = Nj Li


where, N = L = K = load repetitions, load on single axle, power.

LEF Model Based on Permanent Deformation

Rutting occurs mostly because of permanent deformation of the asphalt, base, subbase, or subgrade layers. The failure criterion for rutting is expressed as a The Asphalt

function of vertical compression (c) at the top of the subgrade.

Institute developed a model to estimate the number of load repetition (NRUT) that

causes 12.7-mm rut depth.

The associated predictive equation is as follows (16):


1.05 10- 2 = c



The formulation chosen to represent overall rutting is similar to the above criteria in form. Based on the laboratory and field results, the general equation to

estimate rut depth for traffic loading can be represented as follows (17-19):


1 =a c


where, a, b = constants.

LEFRUT is the ratio of two unit permanent deformation under two different load repetitions to failure, say, NRUT,80 and NRUT,x. Also note that strain is a function of

loads, say, L80 and Lx respectively. With respect to LEF, there exists a relationship between the ratio of two unit damages and the ratio of two different loads. Therefore, the following procedure can be used to predict the number of load repetitions required to develop LEF for rutting:



L = g c ,x = X c,80 L80


where, c,x = compression strain for treated material under traffic load x-kN, c,80 = compression strain for treated material under traffic load 80-kN, Lx = traffic load x-kN,

L80 = traffic load 80-kN, g, h = constants, R = power for rutting depth.

LEF Model Based on Fatigue Cracking

The fatigue cracking failure criterion is based on a laboratory-based model and field observation. Flexible pavement cracking has been related to horizontal tensile

strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer. Several researchers developed similar relations to estimate the number of axle applications (NCRK) to result in 10% or less fatigue cracking in the wheelpath area (15, 17, 20). According to the results from laboratory and test sections, the fatigue criterion primarily relates to the tensile strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer (t). The generic equation for predicting load

repetition to fatigue cracking (NCRK) is follows:


1 =e t


where, e, f = constants.

As in the case of rutting, an LEF set based on fatigue cracking (LEFCRK) could be developed as the ratio of number of repetitions to failure of the standard load to that of any other load. It can be represented as follows:



L = p t,x = X t,80 L80


where, t,x = tensile strain for treated material under traffic load x-kip, t,18 = tensile strain for treated material under traffic load 18-kip, p, q = constants, C = power for cracking.

Pavement Dynamic Model

The ABAQUS program is a three-dimensional (3-D), dynamic finite-element program that has the capacity to simulate actual vehicle loading conditions and estimate the structural response for flexible pavements. This program was successfully used by

to other researchers (15,21); thus, ABAQUS was employed in this study to analyze the traffic response of flexible pavements. ABAQUS solves the dynamic analysis of traffic loading by using the eigenmodes of the system as a basis for calculating the response. The material properties and traffic loads were input to the ABAQUS

program to evaluate the structural response of pavement. Paving materials were


divided into asphalt mixtures, granular materials and cohesive soils. The asphalt concrete was modeled as a viscoelastic material that is timeand

temperature-dependent. The time-dependent properties were represented by the ratio of instantaneous shear modulus to the long-term shear modulus. The

Drucker-Prager mode was used in the analysis to model base course and subgrade materials. Because of symmetry, one-half of the wheelpath, together with one side of the surrounding region, was used. The finite-element mesh consists of a fine mesh close to the load and a coarse mesh far from the load. Mesh dimensions in the vertical direction was selected to match the pavement-layer thickness. A 20-m long wheelpath with two 12.2-m unloaded ends on both sides was used to reduce the end effect.


Pavement Performance under ALF

The relationship between PSI loss and number of application for lane 1 was plotted in Figure 2 while similar trends were observed for Lane 2. also plotted for the comparison purpose. The AASHO lanes were

These lines were obtained based on the As A

same structure number, load, and resilient modulus as the PTF pavement. shown in Figure 2, the PSI loss increased with increasing loading applications.

linear relationship existed between the PSI loss and repetitions for ALF on a logarithmic scale. The ALF trend conforms to the general AASHO Road Test

equation developed forty years ago.

Also, both ALF and AASHO lanes have The slopes of the ALF curves are

uniformly increasing slopes with increasing loads.

higher than those of AASHO. This may have occurred because ALF pavements were trafficked under different speed, environment, subgrade, material, and structure from AASHO pavements. The slope in Figure 2 indicates the PSI loss per unit repetition on a logarithmic scale. L1-102 had flatter slope than the other two ALF

curves, implying that to achieve the same PSI loss, L1-102 would take more repetitions. Figure 3 shows that the same tendency happened in Lane 2 as well. In the case of same lanes and loads, ALF took fewer repetitions to reach a certain amount of PSI loss, such as 2.0, than AASHTO did. Therefore, ALF caused more

PSI loss for the same repetitions compared with AASHO. Figure 2 illustrates that L1-126 and L1-102 have almost the same slopes (1.608 and 1.380, respectively). and L1-126 in the winter. As observed in Table 1, L1-102 was tested in the spring Because of thaw-frost effects occurring in the spring, the In addition, L1-102 had

loading applications needed were expected to be lower. 1-cm less asphalt surface than L1-126. slopes for L1-102 and L1-126.

These two effects might lead to similar

As shown in Figure 3, L1-146s slope (3.292) was five times as great as L2-146s (0.6473). It means that, when L1-146 and L2-146 reached the same PSI loss, the repetition numbers of L1-146 would be one of L2-146 raised to fifth power. Therefore, the rate of PSI loss would be much lower when the pavement surface increased from 11 cm to 18 cm, and the base from 13 to 27 cm. For L2-146, the slope is very small as illustrated in Figure 3. On the contrary,

the slope of L2-170 and L2-192 dramatically increases as compared with L2-146. For Lane 2 there seemed to exist a critical load between 146 kN and 170 kN. Any

traffic loading beyond this critical weight might dominate the pavement failure, and result in an abruptly increasing slope. Pavements can be considered as

foundations used to support the loads from the traffic, and different pavement structures would suffer from critical loads in terms of settlement, soil type, and loading frequency. In other words, ALF trafficking at 21 km/hr might have a critical

load for a certain type of pavement structure under one certain type environmental conditions. Based upon this critical load phenomenon, it is recommended that

traffic loading be less than the critical load when APT is used to characterize pavement materials.

Pavement Performance from Full-Scale Test Road

Traffic Load regulations in Taiwan basically stem from the results of the AASHO Road Test. To accommodate local truck weights, the legal weight limits for single axle and tandem axle are extended to be 98 kN and 147 kN respectively. Based on

the traffic survey in this study, the overall overloading of gross vehicle weight is about 20 percent above the stipulated vehicle weight regulations. Trucks are used most commonly to ship heavy freight such as stones, metals and logs. The profound

impact of overloaded heavy vehicles results in faster and more severe damage to pavements. Figure 4 displays that pavements rapidly deteriorate and need

immediate rehabilitation treatment after about 3-year service. The number of trucks is estimated to increase by seven times from the period of 1970 to 2000. Recent

research in Taiwan indicate that highways have experienced premature failure of hot mix asphalt (HMA) pavement due to dramatic increase in truck volume and loading

(8, 24).

As a result, approximately one third of flexible pavements need to be

rehabilitated annually, which costs about 70 percent of the maintenance budget of Taiwan highway agencies.

Load Equivalence Factors for ALF

The load equivalency factors in effect today have been established since the AASHO Road Test, and those factors are actually based upon the present serviceability index (PSI) (6,7). The power values of equation (1) can be established between two

different sections or loads in the same lane. Table 2 presents the power values for different loads based on PSI loss. After representative K values were determined, LEF for different weights was obtained based on the K value. All the repetition numbers, N, were calculated for specific PSI losses of 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 for ALF. The powers generally increase with increasing PSI loss.

A large power means fewer applications are required to achieve the PSI loss, such as 2.5. In other words, the larger the power value, the earlier the failure will happen in the pavement. Based upon Table 2, "eighth" was chosen as a representative power value for Lanes 1 and 2 based on PSI loss equal to 2. This implies that the

repetitions needed to cause failure with ALF will be the 80 kN (18-kip) repetitions divided by the ratio of the axle weights raised to the eighth power, which would be tremendously small if the ratio is high. As listed in Table 2, the fourth-power law in the AASHO Road Test does not fit for Lanes 1 and 2 for ALF. A possible explanation for this is the highest load

applied by the AASHO Road Test was only 107 kN (24 kip) for a thin pavement

when a 146-kN load was applied by ALF. The maximum load carried by AASHO thick pavements was 133 kN (30 kip), which is still lower than 192 kN in ALF. Therefore, the question of whether AASHTO fourth-power can be applied for ALF depends on the loads applied and the pavement thickness. The relationship between pavement damage (rut depth and cracking) and number of passes for different single loads was established. Two criteria used for determining the pavement service life are as follows: (A) pavements reach rut depth 1 cm and cracking area 10% and (B) pavement rut is 2 cm and cracking area 20%. Criterion A represents the condition when pavements start to lose serviceability and maintenance should be put into action immediately. After reaching criterion B,

pavements would fail and rehabilitation would be necessary. All the powers for criteria A and B were listed on the Table 3. The RUT power values seem random because this value is temperature- and thickness-dependent. It is interesting to note that Lane 2 had a smaller RUT power than Lane 1. This may

be due to the fact that thick pavements are less sensitive to load magnitude for the rut depth criterion. Lane 2. "Eighth" could be the RUT power value R for Lane 1, "third" for

The power values for CRACK are relatively constant. Even though power

slightly increases from criterion A to B, "sixth" could be considered as a representative value for power C. To compare the difference between experimental and mechanistic LEF, a 3-D finite element program, ABAQUS was used to calculate the pavement response. Table 4 lists the LEF values from mechanistic calculations and experiments for rutting and cracking. The mechanistic model agrees well with the experimental data. Therefore, the proposed procedure as shown in equations (4) and (6) is applicable to calculate LEFRUT and LEFCRK respectively. The ratio of maximum tensile strains at

the bottom of the asphalt concrete layer is related exponentially to LEF based on cracking. The ratio of maximum compressive strain at the surface of subgrade is related to exponentially to LEF based on rutting. These findings are in good

agreement with those of other researchers (14, 15, 22, 23).

Comparison of LEF for ALF and Full-Scale Test Road

For comparison with ALFs and test roads performance, terminal levels of 2-cm rutting and 20% cracking were used in determining equivalencies. the equivalencies based on rutting (LEFRUT). Figure 5 shows

The LEFRUT for the full-scale test road

are closely correlated with AASHTO equivalencies. The ALF LEFRUT is much higher than the other two tests. It is likely that ALF traveling at a slower speed (21 km/hr) than full-scale tests caused the LEF to increase. Longer duration on pavements

could cause more permanent deformation; thus, fewer passes were needed for ALF to achieve terminal rutting. The LEFRUT exponent for test road approaches 4.2 that is close to 4 for AASHTO. As shown in Figure 6, equivalencies based on cracking (LEFCRK) are more closely correlated than those on rutting. The most probable reason for this is that the terminal level of 20% cracking is reached after the terminal levels for rutting and serviceability are reached. On the observed test road more vehicle passes were allowed resulting in smaller load equivalence factors. is 4 same as one for AASHTO. The power value for (LEFCRK)



Field and laboratory tests were performed to quantify pavement performance and material properties. Results of these tests were to develop the load equivalence factors (LEF) for the Accelerated Loading Facility (ALF) and two full-scale road tests. On the basis of the findings of these experiments, the following conclusions appear warranted.


ALFs performance appeared to follow an eighth-power law when the full-scale road test resulted in a fourth-power law.


The procedure developed in this study to calculate LEF was shown to be adequate. Careful attention has been paid to validate the mathematical models

before they are used for determining equivalencies. 3. Based on the ALF data, the "eighth-power" for PSI loss could be accepted to interpret the ALF results. As compared with the "fourth-power" law, the

impact of ALF heavy traffic loading on pavement is more severe and much faster than one of regulated loading on full-scale test roads. 4. For ALF pavement performance, "seven" could be chosen as the representative power value for the slope variance, "six" for cracking, "eight" for Lane 1's rutting and "three" for Lane 2's rutting. 5. The critical load phenomenon was observed in the ALF data. When traffic weight goes beyond the critical load, a pavement structure would deteriorate rapidly. The traffic load may become the dominated factor

causing pavement failure.


6. For the full-scale test road conducted in this study, the fourth-power law seemed to be valid to calculate LEF for rutting and cracking. 7. It should be noted that the impact of ALF traffic loading on pavements is applicable only to pavement structures evaluated in this study. research is needed for other types of pavement structures. More



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List of Tables and Figures TABLE 1 TABLE 2 TABLE 3 TABLE 4 Pavement Testing Facility Data Experiment Power Values, K, Based Upon PSI Loss for ALF Experiment Power Values R and C Based Upon Rutting and Cracking for ALF Mechanistic and Experiment LEF for ALF

FIGURE 1 Research flowchart in this study FIGURE 2 Relationship between PSI loss and repetitions for ALF Lane 1 FIGURE 3 Relationship between PSI loss and repetitions for ALF Lane 2 with comparison with Lane 1 FIGURE 4 Rutting occurring at full-scale test road FIGURE 5 Load equivalence factors based on rutting FIGURE 6 Load equivalence factors based on cracking


TABLE 1 Axle Load (kN) Lane 1 102 126 146 Lane 2 146 170 192

Pavement Testing Facility Data Traffic Repetition 147,696 37,033 14,240 1,125,385 416,812 233,622 hickness 1-cm AC, 12-cm CAB 2-cm AC, 12-cm CAB 1-cm AC, 13-cm CAB 7-cm AC, 27-cm CAB 8-cm AC, 30-cm CAB 7-cm AC, 32-cm CAB

Test Date 14/2/88-2/4/88 8/11/87-4/12/87 1/3/88-9/3/88 29/4/88-2/5/88 8/1/87-18/5/87 5/1/89-27/2/89


Experiment Power Values, K, Based Upon PSI Loss for ALF


PSI Loss 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 TABLE 3 for ALF

L1 146 L1 126

L1 126 L1 102

L1 146 L1 102

L2 170 L2 146

L2 192 L2 146

L2 192 L2 170

4.1 5.7 6.7 7.4 7.9

14.1 12.1 11 10.2 9.6

10 9.6 9.3 9.1 8.9

1.2 3.6 5 6 6.8

1.1 3.8 5.4 6.6 7.4

1 4 5.9 7.2 8.2

Experiment Power Values R and C Based Upon Rutting and Cracking

Criteria A Rut 8.7 Crack 4.1 B Rut 10.5 Crack 4.2

L1 146 L1 126

R, C

L1 126 L1 102

R, C

L1 146 L1 102


L 2 170 L 2 146

R, C

L2 192 L 2 146

R, C

L2 192 L 2 170

R, C

6.9 5.6 8.2 5.9 TABLE 4 L1-102

2.3 7.6 7.6 8.1

1.2 7.5 6.1 7.6

0.8 6.6 2.8 6.7

0.3 5.7 1.2 5.9

Mechanistic and Experiment LEF for ALF L1-126 33.8 36.3 13.8 14.8 L1-146 98.5 104.9 34.9 36.6 L2-146 5.7 6.1 35.4 36.6 L2-170 8.2 9.4 81.2 88.5 L2-192 12.1 13.6 106.8 115.8

RUT Mechanistic 7.2 Experiment 7.6 CRACK Mechanistic 3.9 Experiment 4.6

Test Road Construction Field Inspection Laboratory Test Mechanical Modeling Load Equivalence Factor


Research flowchart in this study


L1-102 L1-146 AASHO-126

L1-126 AASHO-102 AASHO-146

PSI Loss


0.1 1.E+04





Relationship between PSI loss and repetitions for ALF Lane 1



L1-146 L2-170

L2-146 L2-192

PSI Loss


0.1 1.E+04





Relationship between PSI loss and repetitions for ALF Lane 2 with comparison with Lane 1








rut depth (cm)

0 -0.5 -1 -1.5 -2
0 60 120 180 240 300 360

distances from the edge of road (cm)

FIGURE 4 Rutting occurring at full-scale test road



Load Equivalence Factors (LEFRUT)




1.E-01 0 1 2 3

Load Ratio ( Lx / L80 )

FIGURE 5 Load equivalence factors based on rutting

Load Equivalence Factor (LEF CRK )






1.E-01 0 1 2 3

Load Ratio ( Lx / L80 )


Load equivalence factors based on cracking