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Proceedings Transport 98, 19th ARRB Conference, Sydney, Australia, 7-11 December, 1998.

LAYERED ELASTIC PAVEMENT DESIGNRECENT DEVELOPMENTS


Leigh J. Wardle
Director, Mincad Systems Pty. Ltd.
Bruce Rodway
Pavement Consultant
ABSTRACT
Early versions of CIRCLY performed only the basic task of calculating the stresses, strains and
displacements within a layered elastic system. CIRCLY4 is a pavement design program that
does this, then uses the strains to perform the design calculations, and also plots the results.
Granular materials are automatically sublayered in accordance with either the method detailed
in the Austroads Guide, or that used by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The damages to each
pavement material (asphalt surfacing, cement-treated layer and subgrade) due to the nominated
design traffic are computed simultaneously. The pavement is then designed automatically by
adjusting the thickness of any pavement layer selected by the designer. The program plots, in
either 2 or 3 dimensions, any user-nominated computed values (strains, stresses, deflections,
strain energy, strain energy of distortion) at any selected depths below the surface.
The user can specify all design inputs, including material properties, each materials
performance relationship and any wheel loading configurations and tyre pressures. This
flexibility and the programs transparency are intended to provide the experienced designer with
easy access to and control of the full capabilities of a layered elastic mechanistic method. The
programs computational speed coupled with the ease with which all problem inputs can be
changed allows the designer to assess the sensitivity of the design to each input and to each
design assumption.

INTRODUCTION
The pavement design method described in the Austroads Pavement Design Guide (Austroads,
1992) uses a layered elastic computer program CIRCLY (Wardle, 1996) to calculate loadinduced elastic stresses, strains and deflections in pavements. Two critical strains are used to
design pavements. The maximum vertical compressive strain at subgrade level is related to the
repetitions to cause surface rutting failure. The maximum horizontal tensile strain at the
underside of the asphalt or cemented layers is related to repetitions to cause fatigue cracking of
those layers.
The mechanistic design method involves calculating pavement damage from these critical
strains using empirical equations called failure criteria or performance relationships of the
form:

k
N=

where N
k
b

is the predicted life (repetitions of )


is a material constant
is the damage exponent of the material
is the load-induced strain

The empirical parameters k and b are determined by calibrating the design method against
observed performance of test pavements or of pavements in service. The method by which the
AUSTROADS rutting criterion was derived will be described to illustrate the process. Neither
measurements of rut depths nor measurements of subgrade strains was involved. For many years
many unbound road pavements had been designed in Australia using the empirical CBR design
chart shown in Figure 1 which reproduces Figure 8.4 of the Austroads Design Guide. The
design traffic is plotted in terms of equivalent standard axles (ESAs), the standard axle being
defined as a single axle with dual wheels that carries a load of 8.2 tonnes. A survey of users
indicated that roads designed using the chart appeared to perform satisfactorily in about 80 to
90% of cases. It was decided, therefore, to accept Figure 8.4 as a record of pavement
performance and to derive a rutting criterion from it. Jameson (1996) has detailed the origins of
Figure 8.4, and the method used in the desktop study to produce the rutting criterion. This
calibration determined that k = 0.008511 and b = 7.14.

Cumulative Damage Factor


If a range of different vehicles traffic a pavement a range of different strains will be induced.
The Cumulative Damage Factor (CDF) concept is then needed to sum the damage. The Damage
Factor for the i-th loading is defined as the number of repetitions (ni) of a given strain divided
by the allowable repetitions (Ni) of the strain that would cause failure. The Cumulative
Damage Factor is obtained by summing the damage factors over all the loadings in the traffic
spectrum using Miners hypothesis.
Cumulative Damage Factor =

ni
Ni

The pavement is presumed to have reached its design life when the cumulative damage reaches
1.0. If the CDF is less than 1.0, the pavement has excess capacity and the CDF represents the
proportion of pavement life consumed by the design traffic.
This approach allows analyses to be conducted by directly using a mix of vehicles with different
axle types, axle loads and tyre pressures. In practice, however, the Austroads design method
involves converting all magnitudes and types of vehicle loads (single, double and triple axles of
different axle loads) to equivalent standard axles at the outset. CIRCLY computations of
subgrade strains and tensile strains are then made for each pavement structure of interest using
an ESA. The standard 8.2 tonne axle loading is represented in CIRCLY by uniform vertical
stress of 500 to 1000 kPa applied over two circles of equal area separated centre to centre by
330mm. Figure 2, which reproduces Figure 8.2 from the Austroads Design Guide, shows the
Austroads pavement model for mechanistic design.

CIRCLY VERSION 4
Early versions of CIRCLY performed only the basic task of calculating the stresses, strains and
displacements within a layered elastic system. CIRCLY4 is more properly described as a
pavement design program that uses the layered elastic program CIRCLY to calculate strains,
then uses the strains to perform the design calculations, and which also plots the results. This
development to a pavement design system followed the earlier development of the Aircraft
Pavement Structural Design System (APSDS) which has been described elsewhere (Rickards,
1994, Wardle and Rodway, 1995, 1998). CIRCLY Version 4 is similar to APSDS but it does
not cater for the vehicle wander that must be taken into account in aircraft pavement design.
Several users of these earlier versions of CIRCLY wrote programs to facilitate the entry of data
and to sort and manage the results that were generated. These programs are no longer needed.
Version 4 runs under Windows 3.1, 95, 98 and Windows NT. It incorporates databases for
material properties, loadings and empirical failure criteria, thus eliminating the need to re-key
the data.

CIRCLY4 automates a number of the design tasks as follows:

Automatic sublayering of granular materials in accordance with the method detailed in the
Austroads Guide, or in accordance with the US Army Corps of Engineers method used for
airfield pavements (Barker and Brabston, 1975).

Simultaneous computation of the CDF of each pavement material (eg asphalt surfacing,
cement-treated layer and subgrade) due to the nominated design traffic (see Figure 3).

Automatic determination of the required thickness of any chosen layer to produce a


pavement that caters for the design traffic without overstressing any layer (see Figure 3).

Automatic plotting using Microsoft Excel, in either 2 or 3 dimensions, of any usernominated computed values (strains, stresses, deflections, strain energy, strain energy of
distortion) at user-nominated pavement depths (see Figure 4). The user need have no
familiarity with Excel.

The initial pavement for the design example illustrated by the computer screen shown in Figure
3 consisted of 110 mm asphalt over 400 mm granular base over CBR 3 subgrade. The design
traffic was 10 million ESAs.
Selection of Calculate damage factors and running the program produces CDFs of 1.35 for the
asphalt and 0.50 for the subgrade. This indicates that the pavement would fail by asphalt fatigue
after 10,000,000/1.35 = 7,400,000 ESAs.
The designer can then decide to either increase the asphalt thickness or increase the granular
layer. If the first option is taken by highlighting the asphalt layer and ticking Design thickness
of layer highlighted below the program increases the asphalt thickness to 125 mm and
computes new CDFs of 1.01 for the asphalt (the designed layer) and 0.28 for the subgrade. The
reduction from 0.5 reflects the extra protection given to the subgrade by the additional asphalt
thickness.
If, however, the designer had highlighted the granular layer and requested that its thickness be
designed, the results screen would be as shown in Figure 3. The granular layer has been
increased to 452.67 mm which has reduced the CDF of the 110 mm asphalt layer from 1.35 to
1.00 indicating that the pavement will fail by fatigue of the asphalt layer at the design traffic of
10,000,000 ESAs. The extra granular thickness will have reduced the CDF of the subgrade
from 0.5 to 0.18 indicating that rutting is not the critical failure mechanism for this pavement.

UNBOUND GRANULAR MATERIALS


Unbound granular pavement materials such as graded crushed rock basecourse and natural
gravels require special attention because their elastic stiffness depends upon the stress state at
each point in the material. The layered elastic method cannot fully deal with stress dependence.
This is because of the important limitation of the method that elastic moduli must be constant
within each horizontal layer. But stress diminishes with distance from the wheels so the
modulus will also change with distance from the wheels, both in the horizontal and vertical
directions.
However, the layered elastic method takes stress-dependence into account to some degree by
dividing granular layers into sublayers and assigning moduli to each sublayer. This allows the
modulus to change with depth. CIRCLY4 automatically subdivides granular layers and assigns
moduli in accordance with the method specified in the Austroads design guide. Previously this
was carried out manually by the designer. Alternatively the designer can choose to have
CIRCLY4 automatically sublayer granular materials in accordance with the US Army Corps of
Engineers method devised for heavy aircraft loadings. It is intended that future versions of

CIRCLY will include other published sublayering systems such as that used in the Shell
pavement design method (Shell, 1985). It is important to realise that each sublayering method
is linked to a particular design method, as discussed in the next section.

FAILURE CRITERION DEPENDENCE ON PAVEMENT MODEL


Each design method uses its own representation of the pavement structure (called a pavement
model) to compute the strains and to derive the failure criteria. The sublayering method used to
assign moduli to granular materials is an important characteristic of the pavement model.
Each failure criterion is an inseparable part of a particular pavement design method. It should
not be extracted and applied outside the context of that method. To do so is to fracture the vital
empirical link between the new pavement and the past pavement performance data that was
used to calibrate the design method. Any design produced using the failure criterion from one
design method with the sublayering system of another method would be invalid.
The necessary links to guard against this error are forged at the time data is first entered into the
CIRCLY4 database.

CONCLUDING REMARKS
CIRCLY4 is not a black box approach to pavement design. The user can specify all design
inputs, including material properties, each materials performance relationship and any wheel
loading configurations and tyre pressures. This flexibility and the programs transparency are
intended to provide the experienced designer with easy access to and control of the full
capabilities of a layered elastic mechanistic method. By utilising available performance data
and material properties the user is able to apply customised treatment to individual pavement
situations. For example, within a localised area, perhaps even as localised as a single site,
quality pavement performance data including good estimates of past traffic may be available. In
such a situation the designer can use the data to calibrate the program to reflect this local
pavement experience. In other words, the designer can generate site-specific performance
relationships to replace the general rutting and asphalt fatigue relationships published by
Austroads, Shell and others. The tool is then available to compute the effects of future traffic
and new pavement materials for the local area with a high degree of confidence.
The programs computational speed (typical runs take less than a minute on Pentium PCs) and
easily changed problem inputs (wheel loads and spacings, tyre pressures, repetitions, pavement
layer thicknesses, material properties, failure criteria) allow the designer to assess the sensitivity
of the design to any input or design assumption.

REFERENCES
AUSTROADS (1992). A guide to the structural design of road pavements. Austroads, Sydney.
BARKER, W. AND BRABSTON, W. (1975). Development of a structural design procedure
for flexible airport pavements. Report No. S-75-17. US Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways
Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Miss.
JAMESON, G.W. (1996). Origins of AUSTROADS design procedures for granular pavements.
ARRB Transport Research Report ARR292, Melbourne.
RICKARDS, I. (1994). APSDS. A structural design system for airport and industrial
pavements. Ninth AAPA International Asphalt Conference, Surfers Paradise, Australia.
SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY (1985). Addendum to the Shell
pavement design manual. London.

WARDLE, L.J. (1996). CIRCLY Users Manual, Version 3.0, MINCAD Systems Pty Ltd,
Richmond, Australia.
WARDLE, L.J. AND RODWAY, B. (1995). Development and application of an improved
airport pavement design method. ASCE 1995 Transportation Congress, San Diego.
WARDLE, L.J. AND RODWAY, B. (1998). Recent developments in flexible aircraft pavement
design using the layered elastic method. Third Int. Conf. on Road and Airfield Pavement
Technology, Beijing.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES
Dr. Leigh Wardle is the author of the leading pavement analysis programs, CIRCLY and
APSDS. His research interests include layered elastic analysis, mechanistic pavement design
and development of pavement design methods for airports and heavy duty loads. He is a
member of the International Civil Aviation Organization's Aircraft Classification Number Study
Group.
Bruce Rodway has extensive experience (35 years) in the design, construction and maintenance
of aircraft pavements, gained initially with the Commonwealth Department having engineering
responsibility for Australias civil and defence aerodromes and, from 1989 as Chief EngineerPavements for the Federal Airports Corporation until its closure in 1998. Duties involved
design, construction, maintenance, evaluation and load rating of runways, taxiways and aprons
at the Corporations 22 airports throughout Australia, which included 8 International Airports.
Now a private consultant.
Bruce is the current Australian representative on the International Civil Aviation Organizations
committee for load rating of new and future large aircraft. He is a past member of pavement
research advisory committees of the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association and
AUSTROADS (the association of Australasias state and federal roads authorities) and current
aircraft pavement consultant to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Figure 1. Austroads design chart for granular pavements with thin bituminous surfacing.

Figure 2. Austroads pavement model for mechanistic design procedures.

Figure 3. Sample CIRCLY4 screen

Figure 4. Sample CIRCLY4 three-dimensional plot