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The objective of this lecture is introduce pavement analysis and design considerations for
composite pavements.  


Composite pavement comprises of two or more pavement layers one of which is bituminous and the
other is concrete. The concrete and bituminous pavements have their individual advantages and
disadvantages which have been discussed elsewhere.  It is believed that composite pavement, if
properly designed, can take of the disadvantages associated with the individual types of the

Though there could be composite pavements for fresh pavement constructions, most of the time, the
composite pavement evolves due to rehabilitation projects where overlay is applied to the pavement.
The composite pavement, thus, can be divided into two categories, (i) concrete overlay over
bituminous pavement and (ii) bituminous overlay over concrete pavement. There could another
category of pavement, where overlay consists of two layers, and the lower portion of the top overlay
is made up of unbound granular material. This is called a sandwich pavement. Figure 29
schematically presents some examples of composite pavement.                      

Figure 29: Examples of different types of composite pavements

General formulation for composite pavement

Since the composite pavement is a combination of bituminous, granular, concrete, and subgrade
layer, one needs to combine the individual models (Ioannides and Khazanovich 1998) of these
layers to develop a formulation for composite pavement. Such an analysis problem will require (i)
strain-displacement relationship, (ii) constitutive law, (iii) equilibrium equation and suitable (iv)
boundary conditions.

Individual layers

From mechanics point of view, a composite pavement can be thought to be composed of three basic
types of layers (Ioannides and Khazanovich 1998) viz. Burmister layer, subgrade layer and concrete
layer . For simplicity in modeling the individual layers can be considered to be made up of
homogenous, isotropic and elastic material. The basic characteristics of these layers can be
mentioned as follows:

Burmister layer

The granular layer and the bituminous layer can be modelled as Burmister layer. A Burmister layer
transfers the load through grain-to-grain interaction and it does not have flexural rigidity (Verstraeten
1967). It is assumed that this layer is infinite along the x and y direction and single circular loading
may be considered as axi-symmetric about z axis.

Subgrade layer

The subgrade can be assumed as Boussinesq half-space which is infinite along x and y direction
and semi-infinite along z (depth) direction (Jumikis 1969). The subgrade may also be modelled as
elastic spring, for example, as Winkler spring bed, Pasternak foundation, Kerr foundation etc. and
accordingly the different solutions can be obtained.

Concrete layer

The load in applied to concrete slab is resisted by bending action. The theory of plate bending is
generally used in the analysis. If it is assumed that there is no deformation along the thickness of
plate, then,σz = 0 at any point across the depth. The basic assumption of thin plate (known as
Kirchhoff plate ) bending theory is that the thickness of the plate (h) is small as compared to the
other dimensions and thus the effect of and on bending is negligible. For detailed discussion
on formulation of rigid pavement, the lecture on analysis of concrete pavement may be referred.

Boundary conditions

Composite pavement is made up of a combination of these layers. Thus, having developed the
governing equations of the individual layers, the analysis can be performed by using suitable
boundary conditions. The boundary conditions for various interfaces may be mentioned as follows
(Ioannides and Khazanovich 1998):

(1) At interface between two Burmister layers

  and (for rough or smooth interface)

and (for rough interface) ; and   (for smooth

The superscript t indicates top and b indicates bottom of the interface. The superscript i indicates the
ith layer. u  indicates the horizontal displacement and indicates the vertical displacement.

(2) At interface between Burmister layer and rigid base

(for rough or smooth surface)

(for rough interface) and (for smooth interface)
(3) For Boussinesq half space

at and also, at

(4) At interface between Burmister layer and cement concrete slab

and where, is the vertical deflection of the plate.

(5) At interface between Burmister layer and spring bed

   and  , where is the vertical stress of the spring.

(6) At interface between two plates

; provided layer is not surface layer.

(for pure bending), where, is the net vertical pressure.

(7) At the surface

When top surface is Busmister layer,

,   if   ;   otherwise   ,   p  is the pressure applied on circular area
When top surface is cement concrete slab,
,  if   , otherwise,

Design approach

As mentioned earlier, generally, the composite pavement is designed as overlay. The conventional
overlay design applicable to composite pavement by (i) empirical and (ii) mechanistic approach and
(iii) a special type of composite pavement as thin concrete pavement over bituminous pavement
(known as ultra-thin white topping ) are discussed in the following:

Overlay design by empirical approach

The pavement thickness, as new pavement design, required to extend pavement life by a given
overlay design period is estimated by using deflection, estimated strain, or some serviceability
criteria; and the existing thickness is discounted to a some lower value than the original by using
suitable factor(s). This may be called as the effective thickness of the existing pavement. The
difference (i.e. the thickness deficiency ) between these two determines the overlay thickness. Thus,

where, h0 = the overlay thickness (either concrete or bituminous), F = empirical conversion factor for
converting bituminous thickness to concrete thickness, or, vice versa, as applicable, h d = estimated
overlay thickness (either concrete or bituminous), C = factor to convert the existing pavement
thickness to equivalent effective pavement thickness (either concrete or bituminous), n is a factor
which takes care of the bonding condition of the overlay. These factors are estimated from traffic
data, or, by performing non-destructive testing (NDT), or, are derived from experience. The
recommendations in Asphalt Institute (1983), AASHTO (1993), FAA (2006) etc., for estimating the
bituminous overlay thickness over existing concrete pavement, are variants of this principle.

Overlay design by mechanistic approach 

As per this approach, the composite pavement with some assumed overlay thickness is analysed
mechanistically (as explained in the formulation). The critical stress-strain parameters at the critical
locations are obtained, and the overlay thickness is adjusted so that the values are less than or
equal to the allowable. For performing this exercise, the engineering parameters of the existing
pavement layers (thickness, modulus, Poisson's ratio) needs to be known, and can be obtained
through non-destructive testing. The engineering properties of the proposed overlay (modulus,
Poisson's ratio) can be obtained from laboratory study.

Some guidelines (FAA 2006, NCHRP 2005) recommend similar procedure for estimating the
concrete overlay thickness over existing bituminous pavement. As a simplified approach, it is
suggested that, the whole bituminous pavement can be idealized as spring foundation, and the
effective modulus of subgrade reaction can be obtained from field study.

Ultra-thin white topping

High strength concrete mixed with fibers are generally used as ultra-thin rigid overlay over existing
bituminous pavement and is known as ultra-thin white-topping (UTW). The UTW pavement system is
analysed as a three-layer model (UTW layer, bituminous layer and a base layer with equivalent
modulus) assuming a degree of bonding between the pavement layers (Murison and Smith 2002).
Bonding in UTW makes the two layers (UTW and bituminous layer) behave as a monolithic unit and
share the load. The neutral axis in concrete shifts from the middle of concrete layer towards its
bottom (refer Figure-30). Due to this shifting of neutral axis, the following situations develop:

 Stress at the bottom of concrete layer reduces. Thus, the concrete layer can be made
significantly thinner for the same loading as compared to a conventional white-topping
overlay which generally has no or partial bond to the underlying bituminous layer (Goel and
Das 2004).
 This however increases the corner stress at the top of the concrete layer. This may result in
a possibility that the corner stress becomes critical than edge stress. In such a situation, the
corner stress can be reduced by providing adequately thick bituminous layer as support to
the UTW layer (Murison and Smith 2002).
Figure 30:  Stress distribution in bonded and unbonded layers (Goel and Das 2004)

Closing remarks

Composite pavements have recorded excellent to poor performance in different types of projects
employing various combinations (NCHRP 2001, 2005). Design and construction of composite
pavements need more precision and understanding.


 Composite pavement comprises of two or more pavement layers one of which is bituminous
and the other is concrete.
 Composite pavement generally designed as overlay on existing pavement. The overlay can
be designed, by empirical approach, where the thickness deficiency is estimated by
deflection testing or other NDT methods. In mechanistic based approach, the general
formulation of the proposed composite pavement structure, is presented to find out the
overlay thickness so that critical stress/strain parameters are within allowable limits.