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The evaluation of pavement performance is an important part of pavement design, rehabilitation and management. It
includes the evaluation of distress, roughness, friction and structure. Traffic, materials and drainage can also be applied
to pavement evaluation.

1. Distress

Distress is an important factor of pavement design. Unfortunately, many of the distresses are caused by the deficiencies
in construction, materials and maintenance are not related directly to design. Knowledge of the various types of distress is
important to pavement designer because it can help them to identify the cause of the distress. If distress is due to
improper design, improvements in the design method can be made. Furthermore, the evaluation of pavement distress is
an important part of the pavement management system by which a most effective strategy for maintenance and
rehabilitation can be developed.

Asphalt Pavement

A typical pattern of deterioration in asphalt pavement is rutting, which develops somewhat rapidly during the first few
years and then levels off to a much slower rate.

Fatigue or alligator cracking does not normally occur until after considerable loading and then increases rapidly as the
pavement weakens.

In climates with either large variations in temperature or very cold temperatures, asphalt pavements develop transverse
and longitudinal cracks. These cracks usually break down and spall under traffic.

The most common problem with composite pavements is reflection cracking from joints and cracks in the underlying
concrete slab. Infiltration if water into the cracks, along with freezing, thawing and repeated loadings, usually results in
breakup and spalling of the asphalt surface.

Alligator or Fatigue Cracking

Alligator or Fatigue Cracking is a series of interconnecting cracks caused by the fatigue failure of asphalt surface under
repeated traffic loading. The cracks propagate to the surface initially as one or more longitudinal parallel cracks. After
repeated traffic loading, the cracks connect and form many sided, sharp-angled pieces that develop a pattern resembling
the skin of alligator. Alligator cracking is considered a major structural distress. Alligator cracking is measured in square
feet or square meter of surface area.

Block Cracking

Block crack divide the asphalt surface into approximately rectangular pieces. The blocks range in size from approximately
1 to 100 ft2. Block cracking is caused mainly by the shrinkage of hot mix asphalt and daily temperature cycling. It is not
load associated, although loads can increase the severity of the cracks. The occurrence of block cracking usually
indicates that the asphalt has hardened significantly. Block cracking is measured in square feet or square meters of
surface area.

Alligator Cracking Longitudinal cracking

Joint Reflection Cracking from Concrete Slab

This distress occurs only on pavements that have an asphalt surface over a jointed concrete slab. Cracks occur at
transverse joints as well as at the longitudinal joints where the old concrete pavement has been widened before overlay.
Joint reflection cracking is caused mainly by the movement of concrete slab beneath the asphalt surface because of
thermal or moisture changes and is generally not load initiated. However, traffic loading may cause a breakdown of the
hot mix asphalt near the initial crack, resulting in spalling. Knowledge of slab dimensions beneath the asphalt surface will
help to identify these cracks. Joint reflection cracking is measured in linear feet or linear meters.

Longitudinal and transverse Cracking

Longitudinal cracks are parallel to the pavement centerline, which transverse cracks extend across the centerline. They
may be caused by the shrinkage of asphalt surface due to low temperatures or asphalt hardening or result from reflective
cracks caused by cracks beneath the asphalt surface, including cracks in concrete slabs but not at the joints. Longitudinal
cracks may also be caused by a poorly constructed paving lane joint. These types of cracks are not usually load
associated. Longitudinal and transverse cracks are measured in linear feet or linear meters.

Pumping and Water Bleeding

Pumping is the ejection of water and fine materials under pressure through cracks under moving loads. As the water is
ejected, it carries fine materials, thus resulting in progressive material deterioration and loss of support. Surface staining
or accumulation of material on the surface close to cracks is evidence of pumping. Water bleeding occurs where water
seeps slowly out of cracks on the pavement surface. Pumping and water bleeding are measured by counting the number
that exists.

Transverse Cracking Patching


A rut is a surface depression in the wheel paths. Pavement uplift may occur along the sides of the rut. However, in many
instances ruts are noticeable only after a rainfall, when the wheel paths are filled with water. Rutting stems from any of the
pavement layers or the subgrade, usually caused by the consolidation or lateral movement of the materials, due to traffic
loads. Rutting may be caused by inadequate compaction during construction. Rutting is measured in square feet or
square meters of surface area.


Swell is characterized by an upward bulge on the pavement surface. A swell may occur sharply over a small area or as a
long gradual wave. A swell is usually caused by frost action in the sub grade or by swelling soils, but a swell can also
occur on the surface of an asphalt overlay on concrete pavement as a result of blowup in the concrete slab. Swells are
measured in square feet or square meters of surface area.

Other types of distress

The following types of distress may be caused by deficiencies in construction, materials or maintenance;

Bleeding: Bleeding is a film of bituminous material on the pavement surface, which creates a shiny, glass-like, reflecting
surface that usually becomes sticky. It is caused by high asphalt content or low air void content. Since the bleeding
process is not reversible during cold months, asphalt will accumulate on the surface and lower the skid resistance.

Corrugations: Corrugation is a form of plastic movement typified by ripples across the asphalt surface. It occurs usually at
bus stops where vehicles accelerate or decelerate and is the result of shear action in the pavement surface or between
the pavement surface and the base materials.


Depressions are localized pavement surface areas having elevations slightly lower than those of the surrounding
pavement. They can be caused by the settlement of foundation soil during construction.

Patch deterioration; Deteriorations occur in a patch, which is an area where the original pavement has been removed and
replaced with either similar or different material. Traffic load, material, or poor construction practices can all cause patch

Polished aggregates: A portion of the aggregates extending above the asphalt surface is either very small or without
rough or angular particles to provide good skid resistance. This type of distress occurs mainly in the wheel path due to
repeated traffic loads.

Potholes: Potholes are bowl-shaped holes of various sizes on the pavement surface. They are caused by the broken
pavement surface due to alligator cracking, localized disintegration or freeze-thaw cycles.

Pothole Rutting

Concrete Pavements

It is helpful to separate various defects common to concrete pavements. Some defects are localized while others indicate
that problems may develop throughout the pavement.

Surface defects
Wear and polishing, map cracking, pop-outs, scaling, shallow reinforcing, spalling.

Longitudinal joint, transverse joints.

Pavement cracks
Transverse slab cracks, D-cracking, corner cracks,

Pavement deformation
Blow ups; faulting; pavement settlement or heave; utility repairs, patches and potholes; manhole and inlet cracking.

Wear and polishing:

A worn or polished surface may appear from traffic wearing off the surface mortar and skid resistant texture.
Sometimes traffic may polish aggregates smooth, causing the surface to be slippery. An asphalt overlay can restore skid
resistance and remove ruts.

Map cracking:
A pattern of fine cracks usually spaced within several inches is called map cracking. It usually develops into square or
other geometrical patterns. Can be caused by improper cure or overworking the surface during finishing.

Individual pieces of large aggregate may pop out of the surface. This is often caused by absorbent aggregates that
deteriorate under freeze-thaw conditions. Surface patching can be done temporarily with asphalt.

Scaling is surface deterioration that causes loss of fine aggregate and mortar.

Shallow reinforcing
If the steel reinforcing bar or mesh is placed too close to the concrete surface it will lead to concrete spalling. Corrosion of
the steel creates forces that break and dislodge the concrete. Often you can see rust stains in the surface cracks before
spalling occurs. Can be temporarily patched with asphalt.

Spalling is the loss of a piece of the concrete pavement from the surface or along the edges of cracks and joints.
Cracking or freeze-thaw action may break the concrete loose, or spalling may be caused by poor quality materials.
Spalling may be limited to small pieces in isolated areas or be quite deep and extensive. Repair will depend on the cause.
Small spalled areas are often patched.

Longitudinal joints:
Longitudinal paving joints are constructed to be narrow in width and usually well sealed. As pavements age and materials
deteriorate, joints may open and further deteriorate. Settlement, instability, or pumping of the subgrade soil can cause
longitudinal joints to fault.

Transverse joints
Transverse joints are constructed in concrete pavements to permit movement of the concrete slabs. Some joints are
constructed with load transfer dowels. If the pavement has poor subsurface drainage, traffic may eventually create voids
under the joints due to pumping and cause the slabs to settle or fault. Freeze-thaw deterioration at the joint can cause
spalling and create additional cracks parallel to the joint. Load transfer bars may corrode, creating expansive forces that
further deteriorate the concrete at the joint.

Transverse slab cracks:

Transverse cracks may appear parallel to joints and can be caused by thermal stresses, poor subgrade support, or heavy
loadings. They are sometimes related to slabs having joints spaced too widely.

Occasionally, severe deterioration may develop from poor quality aggregate. So called D-cracking develops when the
aggregate is able to absorb moisture.This causes the aggregate to break apart under freeze-thaw action which leads to
deterioration. Usually, it starts at the bottom of the slab and moves upward.

Corner cracks:
Diagonal cracks near the corner of a concrete slab may develop, forming a triangle with a longitudinal and transverse
joint. Usually these cracks are within one foot of the corner of the slab. They are caused by insufficient soil support or
concentrated stress due to temperature related slab movement. The corner breaks under traffic loading. They may begin
as hairline cracks.

Concrete slabs may push up or be crushed at a transverse joint. This is caused by expansion of the concrete where
incompressible materials (sand, etc.) have infiltrated into poorly sealed joints. As a result, there is no space to
accommodate expansion.

Joints and cracks may fault or develop a step between adjacent slabs. Faulting is caused by pumping of subgrade soils
and creation of voids. Heavy truck or bus traffic can rapidly accelerate faulting. Longitudinal joints may fault due to
settlement of an adjacent slab.

Pavement settling or heave:

Unstable or poorly drained subgrade soils may cause pavements to settle after construction. Poorly compacted utility
trenches may also settle. This may be a gentle swale or a fairly severe dip. Frost-susceptible soils and high water tables
can cause pavements to heave during the winter months.

Utility repairs, patches and potholes:

Replacement or repair of utilities will require cuts or utility openings. When repaired these pavement patches may show
settlement, joint deterioration, or distress under continued traffic loading.

Manhole and inlet cracks:
Normal pavement movement due to frost heaving and movements due to changes in temperature often cannot be
accommodated in the pavement adjacent to a manhole or a storm sewer inlet. Cracks and faulting may develop and the
concrete slab may deteriorate further.

2. Serviceability
Serviceability is the ability of a specific section of pavement to serve traffic in its existing condition. There are two ways to
determine the serviceability. One method is to use the present serviceability index (PSI), which is based on pavement
roughness as well as distress condition such as rutting, cracking and patching. The other method is to use a roughness
index based on the roughness only.

Some definitions:
1. Present serviceability: The ability of a specific section of pavement to serve high speed, high volume, mixed
traffic in its existing condition.
2. Individual present serviceability rating: An independent rating by an individual of the present serviceability of a
specific section of roadway. The ratings range from 0 to 5.
0 1 2 3 4 5

Very poor Poor Fair Good Very Good

3. Present serviceability rating (PSR): The mean of the individual rating made by the members of a specific panel.
4. Present serviceability index (PSI): A mathematical combination of values obtained from certain physical
measurement so formulated as to predict the PSR for those pavements within prescribed limits.
5. Performance index (PI): A summary of PSI over a period of time, which can be represented by the area under
the PSI versus time curve.

Formulating PSI
Many measurements summaries were tried in the Road Test, but those finally selected were mean slope variance

̅̅̅̅ for the longitudinal profile, mean rut depth 𝑅𝐷
𝑆𝑉 ̅̅̅̅ for the transverse profile and cracking C and patching P for the
surface deterioration.

Mean slope variance:

The symbol ̅̅̅̅
𝑆𝑉 is used for the summary statistics of wheelpath roughness as measured by the Road Test longitudinal
profilometer. For each wheelpath, the profilometer produces a continuous record of the pavement slope between two
points 9 inch apart. A variance SV is computed for the sample slopes in each wheelpath by:
∑(𝑆 − 𝑆̅)2
𝑆𝑉 =
whereS is the sample slopes, n is the number of samples, and 𝑆̅ is the mean of all slopes. The SVs of the two wheelpaths
are averaged to give the mean slope variance ̅̅̅̅

Mean rut depth:

The transverse profile of the flexible pavement section was measured by a rut depth gage. The gage is used to determine
the difference elevation between the wheelpath and a line connecting two points each 2 ft away from the center of the
wheelpath in the transverse direction. Rut depth measurement were obtained at 20 ft. intervals in both wheelpaths, which
were averaged to give the mean rut depth ̅̅̅̅

Measurement of slope variance by profilometer Measurement of rut depth by a gage

Cracking and Patching;

Cracking and patching were combined as a single variable. Cracking is expressed as linear feet and patching as square
feet both per 1000 ft2 of pavement area.

The equation for flexible pavement:

𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 𝐴0 + 𝐴1 𝑅1 + 𝐴2 𝑅2 + 𝐵1 𝐷1
𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 𝐴0 + 𝐴1 log(1 + 𝑆𝑉 ̅̅̅̅ ) + 𝐴2 ̅̅̅̅̅̅
𝑅𝐷2 + 𝐵1 √𝐶 + 𝑃
The original serviceability equation as developed on the AASHO Road Test :
𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 5.03 + 1.9 log(1 + ̅̅̅̅
𝑆𝑉 ) − 1.38𝑅𝐷 ̅̅̅̅̅̅2 − 0.01√𝐶 + 𝑃

The equation for rigid pavements, there is no rut depth;

𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 𝐴0 + 𝐴1 𝑅1 + 𝐵1 𝐷1
𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 𝐴0 + 𝐴1 log(1 + ̅̅̅̅
𝑆𝑉 ) + 𝐵1 √𝐶 + 𝑃
̅̅̅̅ ) − 0.09 √𝐶 + 𝑃
𝑃𝑆𝐼 = 5.41 + 1.80 log(1 + 𝑆𝑉

Roughness is the measurement of the unevenness of the pavement in the direction of travel. It is measured in units of IRI
(International Roughness Index), inches per mile, and is indicative of ride comfort.
The IRI summarizes the longitudinal surface profile in the wheelpath and is computed from surface elevation data
collected by either a topographic survey or a mechanical profilometer. It is defined by the average rectified slope (ARS),

which is a ratio of the accumulated suspension motion to the distance traveled obtained from a mathematical model of a
standard quarter car transversing a measured profile at a speed of 50mph (80km/h)

Rating category IRI value range

Excellent <= 127
Good 128 - 154
Fair 155 - 240
Poor >240

3. Surface Friction

𝐹 = 𝜇𝑊
𝐹 = 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑐𝑒 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑙𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑟𝑒 − 𝑝𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑡
𝐹 = 𝜇𝑊
𝐹 = 𝜇𝑊
F= tractive force applied to the tire at the tire – pavement contact
µ =coefficient of friction
W= dynamic vertical load on the tire

𝑆𝑁 = 100𝜇 = ( )

Speed V mph 10 30 50 70
Skid Number 52 44 34 29