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CONCRETE PAVEMENTS

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5.1 Introduction:

Concrete pavements always require technical provisions to prevent uncontrolled

cracking due to hardening shrinkage of the concrete and due to a decrease of the

temperature. The possible measures are:

- in plain (unreinforced) concrete pavements every 3 to 6 m a transverse joint is

made, and in wide pavements also longitudinal joints are made; this means that

the pavement is divided into concrete slabs

- in reinforced concrete pavements such an amount of reinforcement (0.6 to 0.75%)

is applied, that every 1.5 to 3 m a very narrow crack appears

- in prestressed concrete pavements by prestressing such compressive stresses

are introduced that the resulting flexural tensile stresses in the concrete due to

shrinkage, prestressing, temperature and traffic loadings stay within acceptable

values.

The application of the ‘zero-maintenance’ but very expensive prestressed concrete

pavements is limited to extremely heavily loaded pavements, especially airport

platforms (for instance at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol). Reinforced concrete

pavements, with a noise-reducing and permeable wearing course of porous asphalt

(‘ZOAB’), are nowadays sometimes applied on Dutch motorways. In all other cases,

however, plain concrete pavements are applied and for that reason in this lecture

note only attention is paid to this type of concrete pavement.

pavements can be found in (1,2,3,4,5).

5.2.1 General:

Figure 5.1 shows in general terms the plain concrete pavement structure.

Base

Sub-base Substructure

Subgrade

The toplayer consists of cement concrete, that exhibits an elastic behavior until the

moment of failure. The Young’s modulus of elasticity of the concrete toplayer is much

higher than that of the underlying layers, which results in a great load spreading in

the toplayer and hence in low stresses in the underlying substructure (base plus sub-

base plus subgrade).

Because of the great load spreading in the concrete toplayer, for reasons of strength

a base is not (always) necessary. Nevertheless generally a base (with a high

161

resistance to erosion) is applied to prevent as much as possible the loss of support of

the concrete toplayer, which could result in unevenness and/or early cracking of the

concrete. A base is also necessary for carrying the modern, heavy construction

equipment (slipformpaver) for the concrete toplayer.

The sub-base is especially needed to protect the concrete pavement structure

against frost/thaw damage. The minimum thickness of the sub-base is thus

dependent on both the thickness of the overlaying layers and the frost penetration

depth.

5.2.2 Subgrade:

Because of the high Young’s modulus of elasticity of the concrete toplayer the

bearing capacity of the subgrade has only a small effect on the stresses in the

concrete layer due to a traffic loading.

Due to this small effect it is common use in the design of concrete pavement

structures to simply schematize the subgrade into a system of independent vertical

linear-elastic springs with a stiffness (‘modulus of subgrade reaction’) k0 (see 5.3.2).

The bearing capacity of the subgrade (modulus of subgrade reaction) does have a

great effect on the vertical displacements (deflections) of a concrete pavement

structure due to a traffic loading.

Because of the characteristic behavior of a concrete pavement structure and the high

repair costs in case of failure, it is important to use in the design of the concrete

pavement structure a relative low modulus of subgrade reaction, for instance the

value that has a 95% probability of exceeding.

Besides the bearing capacity also the settlement behavior of the subgrade is

important.

Except the connection to bridges, founded on piles, equal settlements of the

subgrade generally are not a problem.

However, by unequal subgrade settlements extra flexural stresses are introduced in

the concrete pavement structure. The magnitude of these stresses is dependent on

the wavelength and amplitude of the settlement pattern (related to the dimensions of

the concrete pavement) and on the velocity of the settlement process (because of

stress relaxation in the cement concrete).

In practice (plain) concrete pavements are only applied on subgrades that do not

exhibit settlements (such as the sand subgrade in the southern and eastern parts of

The Netherlands) or on subgrades with rather limited and uniform settlements (for

instance at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol).

5.2.3 Sub-base:

- raising the road surface above the level of the surrounding subsoil

- preventing damage of the pavement structure due to frost/thaw action

- temporary storage of rainwater that penetrated into the pavement structure

- soil improvement, i.e. replacement of unsuitable subgrade material

- platform for the construction of the overlaying pavement layers

- spreading the traffic loadings.

162

The thickness of the sub-base is thus dependent on the designed height level of the

road surface, the frost penetration depth (in cold climates), the permeability and

bearing capacity of the subgrade, the traffic loadings (especially during the

construction of the road) and the properties of the sub-base material.

Generally an unbound granular material (like gravel, crusher run, blast furnace slags,

sand etc.) is applied for the sub-base. The grading of the sub-base material should

meet the filter laws at the boundary with the subgrade material and at the boundary

with the unbound base material (if any).

In The Netherlands between the subgrade and the base (nearly) always sand is

applied (because of its availability and the lack of other natural road building

materials), where a distinction is made between ‘sand for sub-base’ and ‘sand for fill’.

‘Sand for fill’ is used at a depth of more than 1 m below the road surface, so below

the depth of frost penetration. It must consist of mineral material in which particles

smaller than 2 µm are present up to a maximum of 8% by mass. The amount of

particles passing the 63 µm sieve must be not more than 50% by mass. The degree

of compaction should be at least 93% MPD (Maximum Proctor Density) and the

average degree of compaction should be at least 98% MPD.

‘Sand for sub-base’ is applied at a depth of less than 1 m below the road surface,

which means that it may be within the frost penetration depth and that it clearly is

subjected to traffic load stresses. Of the particles passing the 2 mm sieve, the

amount of particles passing the 63 µm sieve must be not more than 15% by mass. If

this amount is between 10 and 15% by mass, then, of the particles passing the 2 mm

sieve, the amount of particles passing the 20 µm sieve must be not more than 3% by

mass. The degree of compaction should be at least 95% MPD and the average

degree of compaction should be at least 100% MPD.

Similar to the subgrade, also the bearing capacity of the sub-base has a limited effect

on the stresses in the concrete layer due to a traffic loading and a considerable effect

on the deflections of the concrete pavement structure due to a traffic loading.

In the design of concrete pavement structures the effect of a sub-base generally is

taken into account by means of a certain increase (dependent on the thickness and

Young’s modulus of elasticity of the sub-base) of the modulus of subgrade reaction

(see 5.3.2).

5.2.4 Base:

pavements. Like cement concrete also a cement-bound base material is subjected to

shrinkage due to the hardening process and due to a decrease of temperature. Due

to the friction with the underlying layer this shrinkage results in cracking. The more

cement in the base material, the less but wider cracks will occur.

Without measures there will grow an uncontrolled crack pattern in the cement-bound

base, with variable crack distances and crack widths. The major cracks give the risk

of reflection cracking, which means the growth of cracks from the base into the

concrete toplayer.

There are some measures to prevent this reflection cracking:

1. Preventing the adhesion between the cement-bound base and the concrete

toplayer by the application of a ‘frictionless’ layer (plastic or asphalt layer) on top

of the base.

163

2. Not preventing the adhesion between the cement-bound base and the concrete

toplayer, but controlling the cracking in the base by means of:

a. distribution of the construction traffic for the concrete top layer, in such a way

that there will grow a regular pattern of fine cracks in the cement-bound base;

of course the cement-bound base should not be totally destructed by the

construction traffic

b. in case of unreinforced concrete pavements, by weakening the cement-bound

base at regular distances, so that the location of the cracks is fixed (similar to

the joints in the plain cement concrete); the cracks in the cement-bound base

have to be exactly below the joints in the concrete toplayer.

In the first instance there will be a substantial adhesion between the concrete

toplayer and a cement-bound base. However, due to a different displacement

behavior (caused by the temperature variations and the traffic loadings) of the

concrete layer and the base, during time this adhesion will disappear to a great

extent. For reasons of safety therefore in general in the structural concrete

pavement design it is assumed that there exists no adhesion between the

concrete layer and a cement-bound base.

In the design of concrete pavement structures the effect of a cement-bound base in

general is also taken into account by means of an increase (dependent on the

thickness and Young’s modulus of elasticity of the base) of the ‘modulus of subgrade

reaction’ of the subgrade plus the sub-base (see 5.2.3 and 5.3.2).

Because of its high resistance to erosion and reasonable costs usually lean concrete

is applied for the cement-bound base. Lean concrete is a mixture of gravel and sand

(in a ratio of about 2:1), cement (80 to 100 kg/m3) and water. Lean concrete is

manufactured in a concrete plant and then spread and compacted by means of a

slipformpaver. The Young’s modulus of elasticity, after 28 days, of uncracked lean

concrete is 15,000 to 20,000 N/mm2.

In plain concrete pavements the thickness of the lean concrete base varies between

150 to 200 mm (roads) and 600 mm (airport platforms). To enable an adequate

support of the slipformpaver for the overlaying concrete pavement at either side of

the pavement the base has to be 0.5 m wider than the concrete pavement.

The evenness of the lean concrete base has to be good (maximum deviation of 15

mm under a 3 m long straightedge) to obtain an overlaying concrete pavement of

rather uniform thickness.

plant; for big projects a mobile plant close to the works-site is used. The concrete

mixture consists of gravel or crushed stone and sand (in a ratio of about 2:1), cement

(300 to 400 kg/m3) and water; sometimes one or more additives and/or pigments (for

coloring) are added to the mix.

Generally concrete for pavements must fulfil the requirements for environment class

3 (moist environment together with thaw salts) of the VBT 1986. This means that the

water/cement-ratio of the concrete mix may not exceed the value 0.55 (if an air-

entraining admixture is used in the mix) or 0.45 (if no air-entraining admixture is

used).

164

In some case gravel may be used as coarse aggregate in the concrete mix. For

heavily trafficked pavements however crushed stone shall be used to improve the

skid resistance. Because of the difference in costs between gravel and crushed stone

in those cases the concrete pavement is sometimes constructed in two sub-layers

(‘wet in wet’, i.e. by means of two slipformpavers closely behind each other), i.e. a

bottom layer of gravel concrete and a 60 to 80 mm thick upper layer of stone

concrete. The alternative of course is to use stone concrete over the whole concrete

pavement thickness, in this case only one slipformpaver is required.

The most important properties (with respect to the design of concrete pavement

structures) of some Dutch concrete qualities are shown in table 5.1.

Generally on heavily loaded concrete pavements, such as motorways and airport

platforms, the concrete quality B45 is used. On lightly loaded pavements (bicycle

tracks, rural roads, etc.) mostly concrete quality B35 and sometimes B45 is applied.

The concrete quality B55 is used for precast elements such as concrete blocks, tiles

and edge restraints (kerbs).

concrete quality

Property B25 B35 B45 B55

Mean cube compressive strength 33 43 53 63

(N/mm²) after 28 days

Characteristic* cube compressive 25 35 45 55

strength (N/mm²) after 28 days

Characteristic* compressive 20 28 36 44

strength (N/mm²) of cylinders taken

from the pavement after 28 days

Characteristic* splitting strength 2.25 2.75 3.25 3.75

(N/mm²) after 28 days

Characteristic* flexural tensile

strength (N/mm²):

after 28 days 3.5 4.2 4.9 5.6

after 90 days 3.9 4.6 5.3 6.0

Dynamic modulus of elasticity 30500 32500 34500 36500

(N/mm²)

Density (kg/m3) 2300 – 2400

Poisson’s ratio 0.15 – 0.20

Coefficient of linear thermal 1 x 10-5 – 1.2 x 10-5

expansion (°C-1)

* 95% probability of exceeding

Table 5.1: Mechanical properties of (Dutch) cement concrete for concrete pavement

structures (2,3).

Extensive information about the manufacturing of the concrete mix and the

construction of concrete pavements can be found in (4,5,6).

Immediately after construction the fresh concrete has to be protected against drying

through a curing compound, wet jute bags or a roof structure.

In plain concrete pavements furthermore joints have to be realized within 12 to 24

hours after construction of the pavement. This is necessary to prevent uncontrolled

165

(‘wild’) cracking, due to the cooling down of the fresh concrete in the first night after

construction or due to a strong temperature decrease of the hardened elastic

concrete, because of friction with the underlying layer. One distinguishes:

- in the transverse direction: contraction joints, expansion joints (at the end of

the concrete pavement, for instance in front of bridges) and construction joints

(at the end of a daily production)

- in the longitudinal direction: contraction joints and construction joints (between

two lanes of concrete placement).

Through the transverse and longitudinal contraction joints a plain concrete pavement

is divided into concrete slabs. To limit the temperature gradient stresses (see 5.3.3)

the slabs should be more or less square with a maximum horizontal dimension

smaller than about 5 m (on roads) and 7.5 m (on airports) respectively.

Figure 5.2 shows an example of a plain concrete pavement for a two-lane industrial

road.

Figure 5.2: Concrete slab configuration, with dowel bars and ty bars, of a two-lane

industrial road.

For a better load transfer, dowel bars are applied in the transverse contraction joints

of heavier loaded concrete pavements at mid-height of the concrete slab. A dowel

bar is a steel bar with a diameter of about 10% of the concrete pavement thickness

(normally 25 mm in road pavements and 32 mm in airport pavements) and a length of

500 to 600 mm. The distance between the dowel bars is 300 to 500 mm. The dowel

bars should by no means obstruct the horizontal movements of the concrete slabs

due to the variation of the absolute temperature and therefore they have a

bituminous or plastic coating to prevent adhesion to the concrete (figure 5.3).

166

Figure 5.3: Transverse contraction joint with dowel bar.

In longitudinal contraction joints so-called ty bars are applied to prevent two adjacent

rows of concrete slabs to float away from each other due to variation of the absolute

temperature. The ty bars are located at mid-height, or even somewhat higher, of the

concrete slab. The profiled steel ty bars have a diameter of 16 mm and a length of at

least 600 mm. At both ends the ty bars are fixed into the concrete, however the

central one-third part of the ty bar has a coating (which prevents bond to the

concrete) to distribute the occurring movements of the concrete slabs due to varying

absolute temperatures over a sufficient length so that no flow of the ty bar steel

occurs (figure 5.4). In longitudinal contraction joints normally 3 ty bars per concrete

slab length are applied (see figure 5.2).

Contraction joints are made by sawing a 3 mm wide cut into the hardening concrete.

This sawing has to be done as soon as possible and certainly within 24 hours after

the placement of the concrete. The depth of the saw cut for longitudinal contraction

joints should be 40 to 45% of the concrete thickness and for transverse contraction

joints about 35% of the concrete thickness. By these saw cuts the concrete is

weakened to such an extent that the inevitable cracks (due to shrinkage of the

hardening concrete or a decrease of the absolute temperature of the hardened

concrete) will appear below the saw cuts.

The joints may remain open (which is usually done at rural roads) or they may be

filled. In this latter case by further sawing the joints have to be widened (e.g. to 8 mm)

to a certain depth to enable filling of the joints (with a bituminous material or with

special hollow plastic profiles) and to limit the strains in the joint-filling material at

changing joint widths due to temperature variations.

On roads the thickness of plain concrete pavements varies between 180 mm (bicycle

tracks) and 300 mm (motorways). On airports and other very heavily loaded

pavements a plain concrete pavement with a thickness up to 450 mm is applied.

167

5.3 Stresses and displacements in plain concrete pavements:

5.3.1 Introduction:

The structural design of plain concrete pavements mainly concerns the analysis of

the occurring (flexural) tensile stresses in the concrete pavement and the allowable

(flexural) tensile stresses, taking into account fatigue of the concrete. The occurring

(flexural) tensile stresses are mainly due to the traffic loadings and to the temperature

gradients.

In this chapter some analytical models for the calculation of the occurring flexural

tensile stresses in plain concrete pavements are presented. However first the

modulus of subgrade reaction ko is discussed and the increase of this ko-value

through a sub-base and a base.

One of the input parameters in the design of concrete pavement structures is the

bearing capacity of the substructure (base plus sub-base plus subgrade). Generally

the complete substructure is modeled as a dense liquid, which means that in the

substructure no shear stresses can occur. The bearing capacity of the substructure

thus is expressed as the ‘modulus of substructure reaction’ k, which is defined as

(figure 5.5):

k = p/w (5.1)

p = vertical stress (N/mm2) at the top of the substructure

w = vertical displacement (deflection) (mm) at the top of the

substructure

means of a plate bearing test. However, for reasons of costs, plate bearing tests are

not always done. Then the modulus of substructure reaction has to be determined in

an indirect way, with an increasing possibility of inaccuracy.

Table 5.2 gives an indication of the value of the modulus of subgrade reaction ko. For

a certain subgrade that ko-value should be chosen that represents the bearing

capacity for the actual moisture content, degree of compaction and grading.

168

Subgrade k0 (N/mm3)

Well graded gravel and gravel/sand-mixtures, hardly any fine material 0.08 – 0.13

Poor graded gravel, hardly any fine material 0.08 – 0.13

Gravel/sand/clay-mixtures 0.05 – 0.13

Well graded sand and sand with gravel, hardly any fine material 0.05 – 0.10

Poor graded sand, hardly any fine material 0.04 – 0.10

Sand/clay-mixtures 0.03 – 0.08

Very fine sand, sand with loam 0.03 – 0.05

Vast clay 0.01 – 0.03

Weak clay and peat 0.00 – 0.01

When the CBR-value of the subgrade is known, then an indication of the ko-value can

also be obtained by means of figure 5.6.

Figure 5.6: Rough relationship between ko and CBR for various types of subgrade (2)

constructed over the subgrade. The effect of these layers can be estimated by means

of figure 5.7.

The k-value at the top of a layer is found from the k-value at the top of the underlying

layer and the thickness hf (mm) and the dynamic modulus of elasticity Ef (N/mm²)

(table 5.3) of the layer under consideration. This procedure has to be repeated for

each (sub-)base layer, so at the end the ‘modulus of substructure reaction’ k on top

of the substructure, i.e. directly beneath the concrete top layer, is found.

169

Example

Sand subgrade: ko = 0.045 N/mm3

Sand sub-base, hf = 500 mm, Ef = 100 N/mm²: at top of sub-base k = 0.055 N/mm3

Lean concrete base, hf = 150 mm, Ef = 8000 N/mm²: at top of base k = 0.105 N/mm3

The k-value of 0.105 N/mm3 is used by the Dutch State Highway Authorities in the

structural design of concrete pavements for motorways.

(sub-)base layer (1).

Material Ef (N/mm²)

Sand 100 - 200

Gravel/sand 200 - 400

Crusher run 300 - 600

Crushed masonry 200 - 300

Crushed concrete 400 - 1000

Mix granulate 300 - 500

Blast furnace slags: granular 400 - 800

hydraulic 2000 - 3000

Sandcement* 6000 - 12000

Lean concrete* 15000 - 20000

* uncracked

170

5.3.3 Stresses due to temperature variations:

Temperature variations lead to stresses in the concrete top layer. These stresses can

be distinguished into (figure 5.8):

1. stresses due to a temperature change ∆T which is constant over the thickness

of the concrete layer

2. stresses due to a temperature gradient ∆t which is constant over the thickness

of the concrete layer

3. stresses due to an irregular temperature over the thickness of the concrete

layer.

Figure 5.8: Temperature in the concrete toplayer in case of heating at the surface.

stresses respectively in the concrete toplayer due to friction over the underlying layer.

However, for plain concrete pavements (that generally consist of slabs with both a

length and a width smaller than 5 m (roads) or 7.5 m (airports) these stresses are

such small that they can be neglected.

The irregular temperature results in internal concrete stresses, which are only

relevant for very thick concrete slabs. For normal concrete slab thicknesses they also

can be neglected.

On the contrary, the temperature gradients ∆t cause flexural stresses in the concrete

slab, which are for plain concrete pavements in the same order of magnitude as

those caused by the traffic loadings, and thus cannot be neglected at all.

Tt −Tb

∆t = (5.2)

h

Tb = temperature (°C) at the bottom of the concrete layer

h = thickness (mm) of the concrete layer

For the structural design of plain concrete pavements in The Netherlands only the

positive temperature gradients are relevant because:

171

1. positive temperature gradients mainly occur during the day, together with the

(majority of the) heavy truck traffic

2. both positive temperature gradients and the traffic loading cause flexural tensile

stresses at the bottom of the concrete slab at the most critical locations of the

slab.

A positive temperature gradient causes warping of a concrete slab. Due to the dead

weight of the concrete slab there are flexural tensile stresses at the bottom of the

slab. These stresses are called ‘warping stresses’.

These exist several theories for the calculation of the flexural tensile stresses in

concrete slabs due to positive temperature gradients, for instance those of

Westergaard-Bradbury and Eisenmann (1,4).

In the Dutch VNC-method for the structural design of plain concrete pavements

however a somewhat different model is used, because one has realized that the most

critical point of the pavement structure is somewhere at an edge of the concrete slab.

At the edges there is by definition a uni-axial stress situation (only stresses parallel to

the edge and no stress perpendicular to the edge). For the calculation of the

temperature gradient stresses this means that only a concrete beam (with unit width)

needs to be taken into account and not an entire concrete slab (1,2,7).

In the case of a small positive temperature gradient ∆t the warping of the concrete

slab along the edge is smaller than the compression of the substructure

(characterized by the modulus of substructure reaction k) due to the deadweight of

the concrete slab. This implies that the concrete slab remains fully supported. The

flexural tensile stress σt at the bottom of the concrete slab in the center of a slab edge

can then be calculated by means of the equation:

h⋅∆t

σt = αE (5.3)

2

∆t = small positive temperature gradient (°C/mm)

α = coefficient of linear thermal expansion (°C-1)

E = Young’s modulus of elasticity (N/mm²) of concrete

At positive temperature gradients greater than a certain limit value ∆t l the slab’s

edge looses contact with the substructure and is only supported at its ends over a

certain support length. In this case the flexural tensile stress σt at the bottom of the

concrete slab in the center of a slab edge follows from the equation:

L’ = slab span (mm) in longitudinal or transverse direction:

h

L' = L − 3

k ∆t

with: L = slab length or width (mm)

k = modulus of substructure reaction (N/mm3)

∆t = great positive temperature gradient (°C/mm)

172

The value of the limit temperature gradient ∆tl follows from equalizing the equations

5.3 and 5.4 for both the center of the longitudinal slab edge and the center of the

transverse slab edge.

The basic theory for the structural design of plain concrete pavements has been

developed by Westergaard in 1926 (8). Westergaard considers a single, fully

supported slab (without any load transfer to adjacent slabs) of the concrete

pavement. The slab is resting on an elastic foundation, i.e. vertical elastic springs

with a stiffness k (the modulus of substructure reaction k, see 5.3.2).

Westergaard developed equations for the maximum flexural tensile stress in the

concrete slab and the maximum vertical displacement (deflection) of the concrete

slab due to a single wheel load, located in the interior (middle), along the edge or in a

corner of the slab (figure 5.9). In the cases that the single wheel load is in the interior

or along the edge of the slab, the flexural tensile stress is maximal at the bottom of

the slab in the center of the wheel load. In the case that the single wheel load is in a

corner of the slab, the flexural tensile stress is maximum at the top of the slab at

some distance (around 1 m) of the corner.

The edge loading case is most important for the structural design of plain concrete

pavements. There exist numerous Westergaard-equations for this loading case, but

the most correct equations (which yield nearly the same result) are the following

‘new’ Westergaard-equations from 1948 (9,10):

3 (1 + υ ) P E h3 4 1−υ a

σ = l n + 1.84 − υ +

4

+ 1.18 (1 + 2 υ ) (5.5)

π (3 + υ ) h 2 100 k a 3 2 l

3 (1 + υ ) P E h 3 4 a 2

σ = l n + 3.84 − υ + 0.5 (1 + 2 υ ) (5.6)

π (3 + υ ) h 2 100 k a 24 3 l

173

where:

P = single wheel load (N)

p = contact pressure (N/mm²)

P

a = = radius (mm) of circular loading area

πp

2P

a2 = = radius (mm) of semi-circular loading area

πp

E = Young’s modulus of elasticity (N/mm²) of concrete

υ = Poisson’s ratio of concrete

h = thickness (mm) of concrete layer

k = modulus of substructure reaction (N/mm3)

E h3

l = 4 = radius (mm) of relative stiffness of concrete layer

12(1 − υ 2 )k

It follows from the equations 5.5 and 5.6 that in the case of an edge loading on a

single concrete slab the maximum flexural tensile stress is mainly dependent on the

magnitude of the single wheel load P and the thickness h of the concrete slab, the

other factors are of minor importance.

It is remarked that the size (length and width) of the concrete slab is not included in

the equations 5.5 and 5.6 because they are only valid for rather big concrete slabs,

with horizontal dimensions of at least 8ℓ * 8ℓ (ℓ = radius of relative stiffness of the

concrete slab). The concrete slabs of modern plain concrete pavements do not fulfil

this requirement, nevertheless the equations 5.5 and 5.6 are used in most current

design methods to calculate the traffic load stresses.

Pickett and Ray have transformed the Westergaard-equations into influence charts.

These charts also allow the determination of the flexural tensile stress and the

deflection due to complex load systems, such as dual wheel tyres, tandem and triple

axles, and airplane gears.

In figure 5.10 the influence chart of Pickett and Ray for the bending moment along

the slab edge is shown. In this influence chart the wheel load contact area has to be

drawn on scale; to this end the radius of relative stiffness (l) of the concrete toplayer

is drawn as a reference.

The flexural tensile stress σ at the bottom of the concrete layer due to a wheel load P

is found from the influence chart for the bending moment M by means of the

equation:

σ =

M

=

6 p l2 N

1 2 10000 h 2

(N /mm )

2

(5.7)

h

6

l = radius (mm) of relative stiffness of concrete layer

h = thickness (mm) of concrete layer

N = number of blocks at the chart, covered by wheel load P

174

Figure 5.10: Influence chart of Pickett and Ray for the bending moment along the

slab edge.

175

The equations 5.5 and 5.6 and figure 5.10 are valid for the calculation of flexural

tensile stresses due to traffic loadings in a single concrete slab. However, in reality a

plain concrete pavement consists of a number of concrete slabs with joints between

them. The load transfer in these joints is dependent on the joint width (which

depends on the slab length), the amount of traffic and the type of joint construction

(which means: aggregate interlock, ty bars and dowel bars).

Teller and Sutherland have defined the total load transfer in a joint as follows (11):

2 wu

W = 100 (5.8)

wl + wu

wl = deflection (mm) at the joint edge of the loaded concrete slab

wu = deflection (mm) at the joint edge of the unloaded concrete slab

In joints of plain concrete pavements without dowel bars the joint efficiency W

decreases from 70-90% just after construction to 10-30% at long term due to the

polishing effect of the repeated traffic loadings on the concrete of the joint sides. In

structural design calculations for these joints without dowel bars the safe value W =

0% (i.e. a free edge) generally is used.

In joints with dowel bars at long term there remains a joint efficiency W of 50-60%.

Similar to equation 5.8, however, the joint efficiency can also be defined as (12):

2σu

W ' = 100 (5.9)

σl + σu

Where: W ‘ = joint efficiency (%) related to flexural stresses in the concrete slab

σl = flexural tensile stress (N/mm2) at the joint edge of the loaded

concrete slab

σu = flexural tensile stress (N/mm2) at the joint edge of the unloaded

concrete slab

The joint efficiency W‘ with respect to flexural stresses appears to be (much) smaller

than the joint efficiency W with respect to deflections, as is illustrated in figure 5.11.

Figure 5.11: Flexural stresses related to deflections for doweled concrete slabs (12).

176

The load transfer in joints can be incorporated in the design of plain concrete

pavement structures by means of a reduction of the actual wheel load Pact to the

wheel load P (to be used in equation 5.5 or 5.6) according to:

W

P = (1 − 1 / 2 W / 100) Pact = 1 − Pact (5.10)

200

respectively

( )

P = 1 − 1 / 2 W ' / 100 Pact = 1 −

W'

Pact

200

(5.11)

occurring and allowable flexural tensile stresses in the concrete pavement, equation

5.11 should be used (instead of equation 5.10).

Example

transverse contraction joint with dowel bars: say W = 60%

equation 5.8: wu = 0.43 wl

figure 5.11: σu = 0.17 σl

equation 5.9: W’= 30%

equation 5.11: P = 0.85 Pac

5.4.1 General:

In this chapter the current Dutch design method for plain concrete pavements is

briefly described. This analytical design method has been developed by the

Netherlands Cement Industry Association (2).

The design model used in the VNC method for plain concrete pavements is shown in

figure 5.12. In the model two possibly critical locations of the most heavily loaded

traffic lane are indicated:

• ZR = center of the longitudinal edge of the concrete slab (free edge or longitudinal

joint)

• VR = center of the wheel track at the transverse joint with load transfer.

Two design criteria are used in the structural design of a plain concrete pavement:

1. a strength criterion, i.e. preventing the concrete pavement for cracking; the

required thickness of the concrete pavement is found from a strength criterion

which on one hand is determined by the occurring flexural tensile stresses

under traffic and temperature gradient loadings and on the other hand by the

fatigue strength of the concrete.

2. a stiffness criterion, i.e. preventing the development of longitudinal

unevenness at the transverse joints (so-called joint-faulting): the required

thickness of the concrete pavement is found from a stiffness criterion which on

one hand is determined by the occurring deflection at the transverse joints

under traffic loading and on the other hand by the allowable deflection.

177

Figure 5.12: Design model for plain concrete pavements in the VNC method.

First of all a plain concrete pavement structure has to be assumed, which means that

the length, width and thickness of the concrete slabs, the concrete quality, the type of

joints, the thickness and modulus of elasticity of the base and sand sub-base, the

modulus of subgrade reaction etc. have to be chosen. If it appears after the

calculation that the assumed pavement structure does not fulfil the technical and/or

economical requirements, then the analysis has to be repeated for a modified

pavement structure. The flow diagram of the VNC design procedure is shown in

figure 5.13.

This paragraph only deals with the technical aspects of the VNC design procedure,

the economical aspects will not be discussed.

First the cumulative number of heavy (truck) axle load repetitions on the most heavily

loaded traffic lane (the design lane) during the desired pavement life (20 tot 40 years)

has to be determined.

Only part of this cumulative number of heavy axle load repetitions is driving in the

center of the wheel track, point VR in figure 5.12 (on roads 40% to 50%) or exactly

over the longitudinal edge or longitudinal joint, point ZR in figure 5.12 (0% to 15%,

depending on the geometry of the road).

Furthermore the axle load or wheel load frequency distribution of the heavy (truck)

traffic has to be known or assumed. This wheel load frequency distribution has to be

as realistic as possible: underestimation of the actual wheel loadings may lead to

early and serious structural damage (cracking) of the plain concrete pavement

because of the susceptibility of concrete for overloading (brittle material behavior).

For illustration some theoretical axle/wheel-load frequency distributions, deducted

from actual axle load measurements on Dutch motorways, are given in table 5.4.

178

Figure 5.13: Flow diagram of the VNC design procedure for plain concrete

pavements (2).

179

Axle load Wheel load Frequency distribution (%)

group group

Light traffic Medium traffic Heavy traffic

(kN) (kN)

0-20 0-10 7.60 5.40 4.00

20-40 10-20 25.00 22.00 15.00

40-60 20-30 30.00 29.00 26.00

60-80 30-40 18.00 20.00 27.00

80-100 40-50 11.00 12.00 14.00

100-120 50-60 6.10 7.70 8.40

120-140 60-70 1.80 3.00 4.40

140-160 70-80 0.41 0.75 1.00

160-180 80-90 0.07 0.10 0.12

>180 >90 0.02 0.05 0.08

(3).

The VNC design method includes a standard frequency distribution for the (positive)

temperature gradients within the concrete pavement. This distribution (table 5.5) can

be used in the design of plain concrete pavements for roads, bus bays etc. On

heavily loaded airports and industrial yards the temperature gradients will be

somewhat smaller because of the thicker concrete slabs.

(°C/mm) distribution (%)

0.00 71

0.01 17

0.02 6

0.03 3

0.04 2

0.05 1

≥ 0.06 0

VNC method (2).

In the two possibly critical locations of the concrete slab (VR and ZR, see figure 5.12)

the temperature gradient stress σti has to be calculated for every positive temperature

gradient ∆ti according to the procedure described in paragraph 5.3.3.

Also in the locations VR and ZR the traffic load stress σvi has to be calculated for

every wheel load Pi by means of the appropriate Westergaard equation (eq. 5.5 or

5.6), taking into account the load transfer (if any) at the slab edge under

consideration (joint efficiency W’, eq. 5.11).

180

Next a fatigue damage analysis is carried out for the locations VR and ZR by

calculating the allowable number of load repetitions Ni for each combination of wheel

load Pi and temperature gradient ∆ti. In the damage analysis the following concrete

fatigue relationship (50% fatigue curve, so an average relationship) is used:

log N i = with 0.5 ≤ σ max / fbtg ≤ 0.833 (5.12)

1.000 − 0.7525 σ min i / fbtg

where:

stress σvi until failure when a temperature gradient stress σti is present

σmin i = minimum occurring flexural tensile stress (= σti)

σmaxi = maximum occurring flexural tensile stress (= σvi + σti)

fbtg = average flexural tensile strength (N/mm2) of unreinforced (plain)

concrete under loading of short duration:

B = characteristic cube compressive strength (N/mm2) after 28

days (see table 5.1)

The design criterion (i.e. cracking occurs) is the cumulative damage law of Palmgren-

Miner:

ni

∑i Ni

= 1.0 (5.14)

where:

stress σvi during the pavement life when a temperature gradient stress

σti is present

NI = allowable number of repetitions of wheel load Pi i.e. the traffic load

stress σvi until failure when a temperature gradient stress σti is present

To prevent longitudinal unevenness (joint faulting) at the transverse joints in the plain

concrete pavement the deflection of the transverse edge in the wheel track (location

VR in figure 5.12) due to the traffic loading should be limited. According to

Westergaard the deflection of the transverse edge is (2,13):

W P

wl = λ 1 − (5.15)

200 kl 2

181

where:

λ = parameter (-); in the case of one single wheel load on the concrete slab

and a Poisson’s ratio υ of concrete = 0.15 the λ-value is 0.431

W = joint efficiency (%) with respect to deflections (eq. 5.8 and 5.10)

P = wheel load (N); in the VNC method P = 50 kN = 50,000 N has to be

used

k = modulus of substructure reaction (N/mm3)

l = radius of relative stiffness (mm) of the concrete slab

where:

slab

neq = cumulative number of equivalent 50 kN wheel load repetitions during the

pavement life, calculated with the equation:

4

(5.17)

i

where:

ni = number of repetitions of wheel load Pi during the pavement life

The design criterion with respect to the stiffness of the plain concrete pavement is:

wl ≤ wl (5.18)

5.5 References:

1. Houben, L.J.M.

Structural Design of Pavements – Part IV: Design of Concrete Pavements

Lecture Notes CT4860, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, TU

Delft; Delft - 2003

Cement Industry Association (VNC); ‘s-Hertogenbosch - 1993

3. Manual for Road Construction – Pavement Design (in Dutch), 4th edition

Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Road and

Hydraulic Engineering Division; Delft - 1998

182

4. Eisenmann, J.

Concrete Pavements – Design and Construction (in German)

Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn; Berlin/Munich/Dϋsseldorf - 1979

Road Construction Today – Concrete Pavements (in German), 4th edition

Bundesverband der Deutschen Zementindustrie; Köln - 1995

Association of Concrete Road Contractors; VCW/CROW; Ede - 1994

7. Leewis, M.

Theoretical knowledge leads to practical results (in Dutch)

Journal ‘BetonwegenNieuws’ no. 89, September 1992, pp. 20-22

8. Westergaard, H.M.

Stresses in Concrete Pavements Computed by Theoretical Analysis

Public Roads, Vol. 7, no. 2, 1926

9. Westergaard, H.M.

New Formulas for Stresses in Concrete Pavements of Airfields

ASCE, Transactions, Vol. 113, 1948

The Westergaard Solutions Reconsidered

Workshop on Theoretical Design of Concrete Pavements, 5-6 June 1986,

Epen, The Netherlands

Record 1; CROW; Ede - 1987

A Study of Action of Several Types of Transverse and Longitudinal Joint

Design

Public Roads, Vol. 17, no. 7, 1936

Design of Airport Pavements as Affected by Load Transfer and Support

Conditions

Proceedings 2nd International Conference on Concrete Pavement Design,

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, 1981, pp. 161-170

The stiffness criterion for plain concrete pavements (in Dutch)

Journal ‘BetonwegenNieuws’ no. 58, December 1984, pp. 12-16

183

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