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Pavement Structural Design Flexible Pavement Design AASHTO 1993

Mohamed Ibrahim El-Sharkawi Attia, PhD.

Pavement Structural Design

Flexible Pavement

Rigid Pavement


Pavement Structural Design
Process of selecting appropriate value of design parameters to achieve good pavement performance over pavement life. Design parameters:
Type of pavement (flexible vs. rigid) Layers (no. of layers, materials, thickness) Joint spacing and reinforcement in case of rigid pavement.


Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi

Failure Criteria
Flexible Pavement
Rutting Fatigue cracking Thermal cracking

Rigid Pavement
Fatigue cracking Pumping or Erosion


Challenges in Pavement Design
Complex loading conditions. Complex material behavior, and Impact of climatic conditions on material response. Performance data collection and modeling is difficult.

Main Pavement Design Approaches
Empirical Methods Mechanistic Methods Mechanistic-Empirical Methods
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Empirical Design
An empirical design approach is based on the results of experiments or experience. Observations are used to establish correlations between the inputs and the outcomes of a process e.g., pavement design and performance. These relationships generally do not have a firm scientific basis. It is often used when it is too difficult to define theoretically the precise cause-and-effect relationships of a phenomenon.
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Empirical Design
Simple to apply and Based on actual real-world data.

The disadvantage:
The validity of the empirical relationships is limited to the conditions in the underlying data from which they were inferred. The use of New materials, construction procedures, and changed traffic characteristics cannot be readily incorporated into empirical design procedures. 7 Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi

Mechanistic Design
The mechanistic design approach is based on the theories of mechanics to relate pavement structural behavior and performance to traffic loading and environmental influences. A key element of the mechanistic design approach is the accurate prediction of the response of the pavement materials and, thus, of the pavement itself. A fully mechanistic design approach for pavement design does not yet exist. Some empirical information and relationships are still required to relate theory to the real world of pavement performance. 8 Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi

Mechanistic-Empirical Design Approach
A mechanistic-empirical approach to pavement design combines features from both the mechanistic and empirical approaches. The mechanistic component is a mechanics-based determination of pavement responses (stresses, strains, and deflections) due to loading and environmental influences. These responses are then related to the performance of the pavement via empirical distress models.
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Mechanistic-Empirical Design Approach
Example: a linearly elastic mechanics model can be used to compute the tensile strains at the bottom of the asphalt layer due to an applied load; this strain is then related empirically to the accumulation of fatigue cracking distress.

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AASHTO Design Method
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) design method is based on the results of the extensive AASHO Road Test conducted in Ottawa, Illinois, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Empirical Method Design Procedure
Pavement Performance Traffic Subgrade properties Materials characterization Environment effect, Drainage Reliability
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Traffic Analysis
Load repetitions, expressed in terms of an 18-kip (80-kN) single-axle load, are determined from traffic estimates using AASHTO equivalent factors. Equivalent single-axle load (ESAL), calculated using equivalent axle load factors (EALF).


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Layer Coefficient
The layer coefficient a, is a measure of the relative ability of a unit thickness of a given material to function as a structural component of the pavement . Layer coefficients can be determined from test roads or from correlations with material properties.


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Layer Coefficient


Structural Number (SN)
SN = a1D1 + a2D2m2 + a3D3m3 SN: Structural number: represents the overall structural requirement needed to sustain the design’s traffic loadings. ai: Layer Coefficient, Di: Layer Thickness mi: Drainage coefficient The AASHTO Design method will provide the designer with minimum needed design SN to support the traffic.

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Structural Number (SN)SN


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Drainage Coefficient (m)
Drainage coefficient (m) represents the relative loss of strength in a layer due to: its drainage characteristics, the total time it is exposed to near-saturation conditions.


Reliability is a means of incorporating some degree of certainty into the design process to ensure that the various design alternatives will last the analysis period. The level of reliability should increase as the volume of traffic, difficulty of diverting traffic, and public expectation of availability increase . Reliability = Probability (log W18 — log Wt18 < 0)

Predicted number of application
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Allowable number of application

Reliability levels


Standard Deviation (S0)
Application of the reliability concept requires the selection of a standard deviation that is representative of local conditions. It is suggested that standard deviations of 0.49 be used for flexible pavements and 0.39 for rigid pavements.


Pavement Performance
In AASHTO Design method, the pavement performance is defined using serviceability concept. Serviceability is the ability of a specific section of pavement to serve traffic in its existing condition.



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Initial and terminal serviceability indexes must be established to compute the change in serviceability, PSI, to be used in the design equations . The initial serviceability index (PSI0)is function of pavement type and construction quality. Typical values from the AASHO Road Test were 4.2 for flexible pavements and 4.5 for rigid pavements. The terminal serviceability index (PSIt) is the lowest index that will be tolerated before rehabilitation, resurfacing, and reconstruction become necessary. An index of 2.5 or higher is suggested for design of major highways and 2.0 for highways with lower traffic.
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Serviceability Rating

Individual present serviceability rating form(After Carey and Irick (1960) Huang 2004)


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AASHTO Design Equation

Log W18: Predicted number of Standard Axle load repetition ZR: Normal deviate for a given reliability R, S0: Standard deviation, SN: Structural number of the layers needed to support the traffic, PSI: Change in serviceability (Serviceability loss during pavement life) , MR: Resilient Modulus.
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Minimum Layer Thickness


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Example (Flexible Pavement Design Using AASHTO)
A pavement system with the resilient moduli, layer coefficients, and drainage coefficients as shown . If predicted ESAL = 18.6 x 106 , R = 95%, S0 = 0.35, and PSI = 2.1, select thicknesses D1, D2 , and D3.

Huang 2004


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Step 1(find thickness (D1) of HMA layer)
MR = E2 = 30,000 psi, from AASHTO Design Chart , SN1 = 3.2 (minimum needed structural number ) D1*a1≥SN1 D1 ≥ 3.2/0.42 = 7.6 in. ; use D1 = 8 in (check that it is greater than minimum thickness) .

Step 2 (find thickness of base layer)
MR = E3 = 11,000 psi, from AASHTO Design Chart, SN2 = 4.5; D1*a1+D2*a2*m2 ≥SN2 D2 ≥ (4.5 - 0.42 x 8)/(0.14 x 1.2) = 6 .8 in. use D2 = 7 in . (check that it is greater than or equal the minimum thickness)
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Step 3 (find thickness of subbase)
MR = 5700 psi, from AASHTO Design Chart, SN3= 5.6; D1*a1+D2*a2*m2+D3*a3*m3≥SN3 D3 ≥ (5.6-0.42x8-0.14x7x1.20)/(0.08x1.2) = 11 .1 in. use D3 = 11 .5 in


Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi

Example 2
8-Lane (4 each way) rural highway, the AADT = 1000 total traffic (in both directions), (Truck 1, shown below) present 15% of the traffic, other traffic is passenger cars which can be ignored in the structural analysis. The design period is 20 years, annual growth rate is 2%.
38000 20000 4000

Truck 1


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Example 2
You are required to: Compute ESAL for flexible pavement design. Check the suitability of using flexible pavement that consist of 5 in HMA with elastic modulus of 400,000 psi, and 6 in base layer with resilient modulus of 30,000 psi, resilient modulus for subgrade = 10,000 psi (there is no Subbase layer). Water removed from base within one week, Percentage of the time pavement structure is exposed to moisture levels approaching saturation = 8%, Reliability=80%, Standard deviation= 0.35, Initial serviceability= 4.5, Terminal serviceability = 2.5.
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Load 4000 (single) 20000 (single) 38000 (tandem) Total truck factor EALF 0.002 0.1206 1.7 1.83

D*L = 40% = 0.4 (from Table 6.15) G= 24.3 (for design period of 20 years and 2% growth rate) Number of trucks in design lane = 1000*0.15*365*24.3*0.4 = 532170 truck ESAL = 532170 * 1.83 = 0.98 *10^6
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HMA : Eac= 400,000 psi a1= 0.42 Base : E= 30,000 a2 = 0.14 R = 80% S= 0.35 psi = 2 m2 = m3 = (0.8 to 1.0) use 1 SN1 = a1*d1 = 0.42*5= 2.1 Based on SN1, from AASHTO Design Chart, Maximum ESAL that can be carried by HMA layer = 1.2 *106 ESAL HMA can sustain ESAL > Actual ESAL , ok safe thickness for HMA layer
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SN2= a1*d1+ a2*m2*d2 = =2.1+ 0.14*6= 2.94 Based on SN2, from AASHTO Design Chart, Maximum ESAL that can be carried by HMA layer = 1.1 *106 ESAL Pavement Structure can sustain ESAL > Actual ESAL This means that this structure can sustain Smaller of (1.2 *106or 1.1*106 ESAL) so it can sustain 1.1*106 ESAL ok safe thickness for the overall structure
Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi


Huang, Y. H. Pavement Analysis and Design. Second Edition ASPHALT PAVING DESIGN GUIDE. Published by the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa Washington State Department of Transportation's Pavement Guide Interactive Course Notes, Pavement Design. North Dakota State University Asphalt Institute _FAQs.asp Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements Reference Manual, U.S. Department of Transportation Publication No. FHWA NHI-05-037, Federal Highway Administration, May 2006


Dr. Mohamed El-Sharkawi