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The selection of pavement type is determined based on the traffic volume and composition, soil characteristics, weather, performance of pavements in the area, availability of materials, energy conservation, initial cost, and the overall annual maintenance and service-life cost. The structural design of pavements is not included in this policy, but is addressed in the AASHTO
Important pavement characteristics that are related to geometric design are the effect on driver behavior and the ability of a surface to retain its shape and dimensions, to drain, and to retain adequate skid resistance. High-type pavements retain their shape and do not ravel at the edges if placed on a stable subgrade. Their smoothness and proper cross-slope design enable drivers to steer easily and keep their vehicles moving in the proper path. At the other extreme, low-type surfaces have a tendency toward raveling, which reduces their effective width and requires greater steering effort to maintain a correct path. Accordingly, low-type surfaces are used where traffic volume is light.
While the selection of design speed is dependent on many factors other than pavement surface type, high-type surfaces provide for higher operating speeds than do low-type surfaces. Therefore, the surface type provided should be consistent with the selected design speed for the highway.
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