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INCORPORATION OF MULTIPLE LAYERS IN THE

STRUCTURAL DESIGN OF
ASPHALT PAVEMENTS

Prepared by

RAYAN ATTIEH

NASSIM CHAMMA

KAMEL SALEH

MOHAMMAD TOHME

in partial fulfillment to the requirements of the course CIVE 671

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

American University of Beirut

Submitted to Course Instructor: Dr. Ghassan Chehab

May 18, 2017

I
DISCLAIMER
This report was prepared in the context of an in-class academic exercise under the supervision and
guidance of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Any remaining errors or
non-cited material are the sole responsibility of the authors with no prior knowledge of,
involvement with or implications to the Department, the course Coordinator or project Advisors.
The report is incomplete and cannot be cited. Information in this report cannot be used for any
purpose other than academic-training. The American University of Beirut reserves the right for
using information in this report and is not liable for its un-approved usage for any purpose
including academic-training.

Signature Date

Course Instructor

Dr. Ghassan Chehab

Students

Rayan Attieh

Nassim Chammaa

Kamel Saleh

Mohammad Tohme

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Authors gratefully appreciate the support and guidance for this report by Professor Ghassan
Chehab from the American University of Beirut, Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering. We couldn’t have complete our work without your encouragement and persistent
care throughout the entire course, and for that we thank you.

To our colleague, Yara Hamdar and Hussein Kassem, we would like to thank you for your
support and for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us. Your data input and experience
was essential in guiding us throughout this report. We are grateful for the time and effort you
spent to help us.

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ABSTRACT
The purpose of this project is to study the effect of multiple layers on the layer coefficient of
asphalt wearing course. It compromises of different runs on MEPDG and hand calculations using
AASHTO Design 1993. Default inputs are used to run 10 different MEPDG scenarios varying
the asphalt wearing course and asphalt binder type. By trial and error, using the results of
MEPDG software, back-calculations were done using AASHTO Design 1993 to determine layer
coefficients. The use of multiple layers causes a slight reduction in the structural layer coefficient
of the asphalt layer.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .......................................................................................................................... III

ABSTRACT................................................................................................................................................ IV

1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................ 1

2 LITERATURE REVIEW ..................................................................................................................... 2

2.1 Assumptions in Multi Layered Elastic Systems............................................................................ 2

2.2 AASHTO Empirical Equation ...................................................................................................... 2

2.2.1 log W18 ................................................................................................................................. 2

2.2.2 Structural Number ................................................................................................................. 3

2.2.3 S0 ........................................................................................................................................... 4

3 METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................................................... 5

3.1 Assumptions.................................................................................................................................. 5

3.2 MEPDG Run ................................................................................................................................. 5

3.3 Solution of the AASHTO Equation .............................................................................................. 7

4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION ........................................................................................................... 8

5 CONCLUSION AND FUTURE GAPS ............................................................................................. 10

APPENDIX A ............................................................................................................................................. 12

APPENDIX B ............................................................................................................................................. 14

V
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. MEPDG Scenarios .......................................................................................................................... 6
Table 2. Layer Coefficients for Multi-layered System vs One Asphalt Layer ............................................. 8

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Multi Layered Pavement ............................................................................................................... 4

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1 INTRODUCTION
The AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures 1993 (1993 Design Guide) was the
major driving approach of most international highway companies for the past years. It forms the
basis of pavement design as it determines the thickness of asphalt layers based on an assumed
structural coefficient of the layers. The purpose of this project is to further integrate the
mechanical properties in studying the effect of multiple layers on structural coefficient of asphalt
wearing course. Ten different scenarios of two layered pavement system were run using MEPDG
software; by trial and error, design thickness of the wearing course was determined to satisfy
certain requirements (15% fatigue cracking). Those thicknesses were used to back-calculate the
structural coefficients of the layers. Then, a comparison was done between the results of one
layer and those of multiple layers. The results yielded that having multiple layers leads to a
reduction in the structural layer coefficient of the asphalt wearing course.

Therefore, the following is an overview of the sections included in the report: section 2 provides
a literature review about MEPDG software and AASHTO 1993 Design Guide; section 3 presents
the methodology adapted in this project followed the results and discussion in section 4.

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2 LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Assumptions in Multi Layered Elastic Systems


 The pavement material properties of each layer are linear elastic and homogeneous –
property at each point of one layer is the same.
 All layers have a defined thickness except for the lower layer which is infinite, and all are
infinite in lateral directions.
 Each layer is isotropic, meaning that the properties at a specific point within the pavement is
the same in every orientation and direction.
 Presence of Full friction between layers at every interface.
 Shearing forces are neglected at the surface, considered not to be present.
 Two material properties (µ, E) characterize the stress solutions for each layer.

2.2 AASHTO Empirical Equation

The complete AASHTO equation relating passing traffic and thickness is as follows:

(1)

The use of this equation requires the selection of reliability levels (in terms of ZR and S0), initial
and terminal PSI or change in PSI (ΔPSI), and determination of soil resilient modulus (Mr). The
following paragraphs explain briefly the various parameters in the equation and what they
represent.

2.2.1 log W18


Base 10 logarithm of the predicted number of ESALs that are estimated to pass over the lifetime
of the pavement. The logarithm is taken based on the original AASHTO Road Test empirical
equation.

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2.2.2 Structural Number
An abstract number that represents the structural strength of a pavement required for a given
combination of total traffic (ESALs), soil support (Mr), and allowable change in serviceability
over the lifetime of the pavement (ΔPSI). The structural number is used in way to determine
layer thickness (depths) by using a parameter called layer structural coefficient (ai) and drainage
coefficient (mi), such that:

(2)

Where; ai is the layer structural coefficient

Di is the layer thickness or depth, in.

mi is the layer drainage coefficient

To get the layer structural coefficient of the first layer knowing both the thickness of that layer
and the total structural number SN, use the following equation:

𝑆𝑁 − 𝑎2 𝐷2
𝑎1 ≥ (3)
𝐷1

Typical empirical values of layer structural coefficients are as follows:

 HMA (surface asphalt layer): 0.44


 base course (crushed stone): 0.14; or stabilized base course material: 0.30–0.40;
 subbase (crushed concrete and stone): 0.11.

This value (0.44) of HMA is based on a vastly empirical relationship that was developed almost
five decades ago under strictly limited material, traffic, climatic and structural conditions. The
objective of this report is to improve the estimation of the asphalt layer structural coefficient to
cater for a wider range of asphalt wearing course types with different material properties
(Hamdar 2016). Values of drainage coefficients can range from 0.4 (saturated layers with slow-
draining) to 1.4 (fast-draining layers that do not saturate). This term can be neglected by just
using m = 1.

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The concept of reliability assumes that the distribution of variables such as stress, resulting from
uncontrollable factors such as traffic loading (annual average daily traffic) and the environment
(weather, temperature…), and strength/stiffness of pavement materials/layers, resulting from
controllable factors such as construction quality and used paving materials, can be represented by
a graph of the normal distribution type. Reliability refers to the probability that the design life
predicted will exceed the required design based on the number of ESALs passing per year, or,
more specifically, the strength of a material will exceed the stress applied on that specific
material. Two factors are considered for reliability: ZR, the standard normal deviate, and S0, the
combined standard error of the performance and traffic prediction. The different values of ZR
required for the various levels of reliability could be designated and found based on guidelines
that have been provided in the AASHTO Design Guide.

2.2.3 S0
For a flexible pavement, the typical values range from 0.40 to 0.50. S0 is not given and cannot be
calculated from the actual traffic or construction numbers, so it is almost always assumed to be
around 0.50.

Figure 1 shows the structure and the components of a multi layered pavement design.

Figure 1. Multi Layered Pavement

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3 METHODOLOGY
3.1 Assumptions
The methodology considered assumes that the MEPDG method using Pavement ME is more
accurate and more reliable than the AASHTO 1993 Design Guide and generates structural design
and layer thicknesses that are closer to optimal. Other assumptions are as follows (Hamdar &
Chehab, in press):
 As-built air void content (%) is assumed to be between 7% and 9% depending on the HMA
mix type used.
 A change in pavement serviceability index (∆PSI) of 1.2 is equivalent to a fatigue cracking of
15%. This equivalence is obtained by matching the MEPDG recommended performance
criteria for fatigue cracking to the recommended 1993 Design Guide serviceability loss
criteria provided for interstate pavements (AASHTO 1993).
 Reliability was assumed to be 90% for both MEPDG and AASHTO design methods. Even
though the concept of reliability is different for each one of the two design guides, change in
reliability was assumed to have the same effect on design thickness for both cases.
 The structural coefficient a2 for the second asphalt layer (asphalt binder course) was
considered equal to 0.44 for all scenarios (Hamdar 2016).
 Conversion of traffic from average annual daily truck traffic (AADTT) to equivalent single-
axle loads (ESALS) was done based on calculations performed specifically in Pavement ME,
which assumes a structural number SN of 5 and a terminal serviceability value of 2.5

3.2 MEPDG Run


The MEPDG software was used to find the design thickness of the asphalt wearing course (to the
nearest 0.05”) to meet 15% fatigue cracking requirement at a design life of 10 years. The
following process was run for 10 different scenarios including different layers of asphalt with the
same input (Table 1). After getting the asphalt thicknesses for all scenarios, the 1993 AASHTO
Design Guide equation was used to back-calculate the layer coefficient of the asphalt wearing
course for each scenario. Appendix A shows the input entered for the different pavement layers
for just the first scenario. Appendix B provides a summary of the asphalt mixes used in this study
analysis.

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Input:
 15,000 AADTT which is equivalent to 17,500,000 ESALs,
 Reliability = 90%
 Change in PSI = 1.2
 Standard deviation = 0.4
Table 1. MEPDG Scenarios

Asphalt
Asphalt Asphalt Aggregate
Traffic Traffic Binder Aggregate Subgrade
Wearing Binder Base Layer
Scenario Climate Volume* Speed* Course Base Modulus Modulus
Course Course Thickness
(AADTT) (mph) Thickness (psi) (psi)
Type** Type** (in)
(in)
1 HMA-1
M-
2
HMA-3
3 HMA-3 HMA-2 4.4
4 HMA-4
HMA-
5 St
RAP-1
Louis, 15,000 60 15 25,000 15,000
6 HMA-1
Phoenix
M-
7
HMA-3
8 HMA-3 WMA-O 3.8
9 HMA-4
HMA-
10
RAP-1
*Leave all other traffic inputs default

**Refer to appendix o Yara’s thesis for asphalt material properties (Hamdar 2016)

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3.3 Solution of the AASHTO Equation

The AASHTO equation (1) is solved using an iterative process. The equation is often solved
assuming ESAL values, if the values are not accurate or have not been provided. In this case, the
number of ESALS is equal to 17,500,000 ESALs equivalent to 15,000 AADTT. The process
consists of performing the following steps:

1. Determine the total ESALs passing over the pavement layers.


2. Determine resilient modulus (Mr), or, using the CBR formulas, convert existing CBR values
to Mr. That could be done either by AASHTO method: Mr (psi) = 1500 * (CBR) or by
NCHRP 1-37 method: Mr (psi) = 2555*(CBR)0.64
3. Select reliability (which means selecting a specific value of ZR and S0).
4. Select po, pt (serviceability range).
5. Select a basic layer and get its MR value.
6. Solve the 1993 equation and get SN assuming the pavement is composed just of two layers
(e.g., combine lower two layers and upper two asphalt layers); solve each layer using the
resilient modulus of the layer directly underneath it.
7. Using the SN obtained from the previous step and the thickness withdrawn from the MEPDG
software, plug them in equation (3) to back-calculate the structural coefficient a1 of the
asphalt wearing course for each one of the 10 scenarios, giving that the structural coefficient
of the second asphalt binder layer is equal to a2 = 0.44.
8. Analyze the results and compare them with those obtained when having one asphalt layer of
the same mix type.

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4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

This section contains the results and analysis of MEPDG runs and AASHTO 1993 Design. The
1993 design equation gave an SN of 3.7 given all data and using the modulus of the aggregate
base as the Mr value. MEPDG runs gave the thickness of the first layer varying the asphalt
wearing course in some scenarios while varying the binder in others, as shown in Table 2. The
runs were made continuously for different thicknesses until the optimum thickness was found,
which is the one that gave the required 15% fatigue cracking. The MEPDG runs are summarized
in detail for every scenario in the Excel spreadsheets attached along this report. The results
obtained for two layers were compared with those that were found when considering only one
asphalt layer (Hamdar 2016). Accordingly, the coefficient of asphalt wearing course layer was
calculated for each scenario, and the results are presented in the following table:

Table 2. Layer Coefficients for Multi-layered System vs One Asphalt Layer

Asphalt Back- Asphalt Back-


Layer calculated Layer calculated
Design Asphalt Design Asphalt
Asphalt
Asphalt Asphalt Thickness Layer Thickness Layer
Binder
Wearing Binder (2 layers) Coefficient (1 layer) Coefficient
Scenario Course
Course Course (in) Based on (in) Based on
Thickness
Type** Type** Multiple One Layer
(in)
ST LOUIS Layers ST LOUIS

ST LOUIS ST LOUIS
1 HMA-1 4.05 0.435 7.2 0.474
2 M-HMA-3 3.55 0.496 6.25 0.546
3 HMA-3 HMA-2 4.4 4.3 0.41 7.35 0.464
4 HMA-4 5 0.352 8.5 0.401
5 HMA-RAP-1 4.4 0.4 7.5 0.455
6 HMA-1 4.5 0.45 7.2 0.474
7 M-HMA-3 3.95 0.513 6.25 0.546
8 HMA-3 WMA-O 3.8 4.75 0.426 7.35 0.464
9 HMA-4 5.45 0.372 8.5 0.401
10 HMA-RAP-1 4.9 0.413 7.5 0.455

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When considering just the case of the two layers, it is noticeable that when the second layer has a
lower thickness, both the thickness and the structural coefficient of the asphalt wearing course
increased. Here, it must be must be mentioned that both asphalt binders HMA-2 and WMA-O
have the same ai = 0.44. The fact that the thickness of the first asphalt layer increases is a given
since it must account for the loss in asphalt binder. However, the results obtained shine the light
on another fact which is that the thickness of the asphalt binder course influences the value of a1
of the asphalt wearing course. Also, material properties are an important factor in getting the
layer coefficient, since there is a direct correlation between the effective dynamic modulus E* of
the asphalt wearing course and its structural coefficient, and that’s why the results gave a
different ai for the various asphalt course types used in the study scope. Using the typical value
of 0.44 is a dangerous assumption because it could lead to over-designing if the real ai value is
higher than the assumed value, and under-designing if it is lower than the typical value of 0.44.

The layer coefficient ai is defined as a combined structural and material indicator. It represents
the ability of the asphalt layer to act as a structural component in any given pavement, and so it
not only an indicator of the integrity of the asphalt as a paving material. Therefore, it is expected
that the structural coefficient ai would not only be dependent on the asphalt material mix type
and material properties but also on the layer’s boundary conditions, represented here by the
presence of multiple asphalt layers (in this case, a binder course directly below the asphalt
wearing course).

Studying the same mix types in two different scenarios (one layer system vs multi-layered
system) generated different results in terms of the thickness of the asphalt wearing course as well
as for the layer coefficient. Five asphalt wearing mix types were used with two different binders
having the same layer coefficient (a2=0.44) resulting in ten different scenarios and hence
different layer coefficients. In comparison with one layer system, the latter had greater values of
layer coefficients. Therefore, when using any of the two asphalt binders tested in this analysis,
the effect of multi-layered system is represented by lowering the layer coefficient of the asphalt
wearing course in each one of the 10 scenarios. Even though the effect of having multiple layers
is minimal, it is highly recommended to take it into consideration when calculation the layer
coefficient, because taking the “one layer” values of ai in a multiple layer pavements will give us

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a higher structural coefficient than what is present and hence, will lead to under-designing the
pavement which is a serious issue.

5 CONCLUSION AND FUTURE GAPS

In conclusion, the AASHTO Design Guide remains a major milestone in pavement engineering.
Although it is based on limited empirical data, yet it is still widely used by most of the important
companies worldwide. The layer coefficient of the asphalt wearing course represents a main
parameter in the design and is affected by various factors primarily the strength of the materials.
This study showed that it is also affected by the number of layers used in a pavement; both
MEPDG software and AASHTO Design equation were integrated to conclude the following:
layer coefficients recorded smaller values for multi-layered system compared to a one layer
system. The findings of this research report present a significant improvement in empirical
pavement design by integrating the effect of multiple layers in the structural design of asphalt
pavement.

For future gaps and need, there is still the possibility of expanding the scope of the research to
include a wider array of mix types and structural design scenarios other than those studied in this
report, in the aim of continuously enhancing the AASHTO 1993 Design Method, and coming up
with an equation that takes into consideration the properties of the asphalt material, as well as the
use of multiple asphalt layers.

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REFERENCES

1. AASHTO, 1993. AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures, 1993, American
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
2. Daniel, J. S., and G. R. Chehab., 2008. Use of RAP Mixtures in Mechanistic–Empirical
Pavement Design Guide. Presented at 87th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research
Board, Washington, D.C.
3. Daniel, J. S., G. R. Chehab, and D. Ayyala. Sensitivity of RAP Binder Grade on Performance
Predictions in the MEPDG. Journal of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, Vol.
78, 2009, pp. 325–376.
4. Hamdar, Y., 2016. Effective Incorporation of Asphalt Mixture Properties in the Structural
Design of Asphalt Pavements as a Precursor for Implementing Performance-Based Design.
American University of Beirut.
5. Hamdar, Y. & Chehab, G.R., Integrating the Dynamic Modulus of Asphalt Mixes in the 1993
AASHTO Design Method. Transportation Research Record, Journal of the Transportation
Research Board, in print.

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APPENDIX A

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APPENDIX B

Mix Designation Mix Description NMAS (mm) Source


HMA-1 Conventional HMA 19 AUB
M-HMA-3 Polymer-modified HMA 19 AUB
HMA-2 Conventional HMA 25 AUB
HMA-3 Conventional HMA 12.5 AUB
HMA-4 Conventional HMA 12.5 (Daniel and Chehab 2008)
HMA-RAP-1 HMA + 10% RAP 12.5 (Daniel and Chehab 2008)
WMA-O WMA organic additive AUB

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