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Pavement Analysis and Design

Pavement and its Composition

Dr. V. Sunitha

• Flexible and Rigid pavements

• Highway and Airport pavements
• Component of Pavement Structure
• Factors affecting Design and Performance of

Why Pavement?
• To allow the wheel loads with least possible rolling
• To enable fast moving vehicles to move safely and
comfortably at design speeds
• An earth road cannot fulfill above requirements
– At high moisture contents, the soil becomes weak,
soft, and yields under heavy loads
– Undulations and unevenness causes vertical
oscillations and increases VOC.
• Hence, a pavement consisting of various layers is
constructed 3
Requirements of a pavement
An ideal pavement should meet the following requirements:
1. Sufficient thickness to distribute the wheel load stresses to a
safe value on the sub-grade soil
2. Structurally strong to withstand all types of stresses imposed
upon it
3. Adequate coefficient of friction to prevent skidding of vehicles
4. Smooth surface to provide comfort to road users even at high
5. Produce least noise from moving vehicles
6. Dust proof surface so that traffic safety is not impaired by
reducing visibility
7. Impervious surface, so that sub-grade soil is well protected
8. Long design life with low maintenance cost
Types of Pavements
• Based on structural behaviour pavements are
usually classified as
– Flexible Pavement
– Rigid Pavement

Composition of Pavement
Types of Pavements

Types of Pavements

Types of Pavements

Composite pavements

Combination HMA and PCC

pavements. Occasionally, they are initially constructed as
composite pavements, but more frequently they are the result of
pavement rehabilitation (e.g., HMA overlay of PCC pavement). ...
Flexible pavement: Definition
• Are those pavements which reflect the deformation of
subgrade and the subsequent layers to the surface. Flexible,
usually asphalt, is laid with no reinforcement or with a
specialized fabric reinforcement that permits limited flow or
repositioning of the roadbed under ground changes.
• The design of flexible pavement is based on load distributing
characteristic of the component layers.
• Flexible pavement on the whole has low or negligible flexible
strength (flexible in their structural action).
• The flexible pavement layers transmit the vertical or
compressive stresses to the lower layers by grain transfer
through contact points of granular structure.
• The vertical compressive stress is maximum on the pavement
surface directly under the wheel load and is equal to contact
pressure under the wheels.
• Due to the ability to distribute the stress to large area in the
shape of truncated cone the stresses get decreased in the
lower layer.
• As such the flexible pavement may be constructed in a
number of layers and the top layer has to be strongest as the
highest compressive stresses.
• To be sustained by this layer, in addition to wear and tear, the
lower layer have to take up only lesser magnitude of stress as
there is no direct wearing action due to traffic loads, therefore
inferior material with lower cost can be used in the lower
Load Distribution Pattern
Rigid pavement: Definition
• The rigid characteristic of the pavement are associated with
rigidity or flexural strength or slab action so the load is
distributed over a wide area of subgrade soil. Rigid pavement
is laid in slabs with steel reinforcement.
• The rigid pavements are made of cement concrete either
plain, reinforced or prestressed concrete.
• Critical condition of stress in the rigid pavement is the
maximum flexural stress occurring in the slab due to wheel
load and the temperature changes.
• Rigid pavement is designed and analyzed by using the elastic

Advantages of Rigid Pavement

• Good durability
• Long service life
• Withstand repeated flooding and subsurface water
without deterioration
Disadvantages of Rigid Pavement

• May lose non-skid surface with time

• Needs even sub-grade with uniform settling
• May fault at transverse joints
• Requires frequent joint maintenance
Flexible Pavement Typical Applications

• Traffic lanes
• Auxiliary lanes
• Ramps
• Parking areas
• Frontage roads
• Shoulders
Advantages to Flexible Pavement

• Adjusts to limited differential settlement

• Easily repaired
• Additional thickness added any time
• Non-skid properties do not deteriorate
• Quieter and smoother
• Tolerates a greater range of temperatures
Disadvantages of Flexible Pavement

• Loses some flexibility and cohesion with time

• Needs resurfacing sooner than PC concrete
• Not normally chosen where water is expected
Comparison of Flexible and Rigid Pavements
Points Flexible Pavements Rigid Pavements
Structural action and Flexible Rigid
Nature of stresses Compressive stresses are Flexural stresses are
predominant predominant
Composition of Crust Refer Fig Refer Fig
Behaviour in terms of Deformation of lower layer Does not get deformed owing
deformation of any layer gets reflected to surface of the to rigidity in structural action
layer owing to flexibility in
structural action
Stress Transfer to Lower Layers Grain to Grain transfer No grain to grain transfer
through points of contact in
granular structure
Pattern of Stress Transfer to
lower layer

Points Flexible Pavements Rigid Pavements

Transmission of deformation Will transmit No transferred

in the sub grade to the upper
sub base sub base is needed sub base not necessary
strength of the sub grade on Highly depended Less depended
Strength of the road
Road can be used for traffic within 24 hours Road cannot be used until 14
days of curing
Parameters inducing Stresses Wheel Load Wheel Load, Temperature
Design Precision Involves more use of Involves much more precise
empirical methods, now-a- structural analysis because
days computer aided analysis the flexural strength of
is used concrete is main basis for

Points Flexible Pavements Rigid Pavements

Life 10-20 years 40 years

Maintenance Need great inputs and Needs very little maintenance

maintenance, sealing cracks, in respect of joints
filling potholes, resurfacing,
resealing are done frequently

Glare and Night Visibility Black bituminous pavements They cause glare under
are free from this defect but sunlight
they need more street lighting

Initial Cost Lesser More cost is involved initially

Overall Economy on a life cycle Less economical than rigid More Economical

Pavements Comparison
• Heavy vehicles consume less fuel on rigid pavements

• Rigid pavements more economic when considering

environmental / life-cycle costing
Components of Flexible Pavements from bottom to top

• Subgrade
• Sub-Base Course
• Base Course
• Prime Coat between Base and Binder
• Binder Course
• Tack Coat between Binder and Surface
• Surface / Wearing Course
• Seal Coat above Surface course
Components of Rigid Pavements from bottom to top

• Subgrade
• Base/subbase Course
• Cement Concrete Slab

Structure of Flexible Pavement
• In order to take maximum advantage of this
property, material layers are usually arranged in
order of descending load bearing capacity with the
highest load bearing capacity material (and most
expensive) on the top and the lowest load bearing
capacity material (and least expensive) at the

Structure of Flexible Pavement
– Surface Course: This is the top layer and the layer that
comes in contact with traffic.
– Base Course: This is the layer directly below the surface
course and generally consists of aggregates (either
stabilized or un-stabilized).
– Sub-base Course: This is the layer (or layers) under the
base layer. A sub-base is not always needed.
– Sub-grade Course: The "sub-grade" is the material upon
which the pavement structure is placed. Although there is
a tendency to look at pavement performance in terms of
pavement structure and mix design alone. The sub-grade
can often be the overriding factor in pavement
• It is a layer of natural soil prepared to receive the layers of
pavement materials placed over it.
• Loads are ultimately received by subgrade and dispersed to
the earth mass.
• Pressure transmitted on top of subgrade should be within
allowable limit.
• It is recommended that atleast top 50cm of subgrade soil is
well compacted under MDD-OMC conditions.
• Various tests done on subgrade are CBR, Triaxial, Plate Bearing
Tests etc.

Function and Significance of Subgrade Properties

• Basement soil of road

• Important for structural
and pavement life.
• Should not deflect
excessively due to
dynamic loading.
• May be in fill or
Cut and Fill Sections
Desirable Properties of Soil as Subgrade
• Stability
• Incompressibility
• Permanency of strength
• Minimum changes in volume and stability
under adverse condition of weather and
ground water
• Good drainage
• Ease of compaction
Subgrade Performance

• Load bearing capacity:

Affected by degree of compaction, moisture content, and soil
• Moisture content:
Affects subgrade properties like load bearing capacity,
shrinkage and swelling.
Influenced by drainage, groundwater table elevation,
infiltration, or pavement porosity (which can be assisted by
cracks in the pavement).
• Shrinkage and/or swelling:
Shrinkage, swelling and frost heave will tend to deform and
crack any pavement type constructed over them.
Subgrade Soil Strength
Assessed in terms of CBR of subgrade soil for
most critical moisture conditions.

• Soil type
• Moisture Content
• Dry Density
• Internal Structure of the soil
• Type and Mode of Stress Application
Sub-Base and Base Course
• It is made of broken stones bound or unbound aggregate.
• Sometimes even granular soil is used in sub-base.
• It is desirable to use smaller sized graded aggregates or soil
aggregate mix for proper interlocking and resistance to sink
when wet.

Functions of Sub-Base Layer
• To provide additional help to the base and surface courses in
distributing the loads
• To prevent intrusion of fine grained subgrade soil into base
• To minimize the damaging effect of frost action
• To facilitate the drainage of free water that might get
accumulated under the pavement
• If the base course is open graded, then the sub-base course
with more fines can serve as a filler between sub-grade and
the base course.
• A sub-base course is not always needed or used. For example,
a pavement constructed over a high quality, stiff sub-grade
may not need the additional features offered by a sub-base
course. In such situations, sub-base course may not be
provided. 36
Functions of Base Course
• To act as a structural portion of pavement and thus distribute
• To prevent intrusion of subgrade soils into pavement (When
constructed directly over subgrade without a sub-base)

Surface Course
• The surface course is the layer in contact with traffic loads and
normally contains the highest quality materials. It provides
characteristics such as friction, smoothness, noise control, rut and
shoving resistance and drainage.
• In addition, it serves to prevent the entrance of excessive quantities
of surface water into the underlying base, sub-base and sub-grade.
This top structural layer of material is sometimes subdivided into two

Wearing Course
• This is the layer in direct contact with traffic loads. It
is meant to take the brunt of traffic wear and can be
removed and replaced as it becomes worn. A
properly designed (and funded) preservation
program should be able to identify pavement surface
distress while it is still confined to the wearing
course. This way, the wearing course can be
rehabilitated before distress propagates into the
underlying intermediate/blinder course

Wearing Course
• Its purpose is to give a smooth riding surface that is dense

• Resists the pressure exerted by tyres and takes up wear and

tear due to traffic

• Acts as a water tight layer against surface water infiltration

• In flexible pavement – bituminous surfacing is used

• In Rigid pavement cement concrete slab acts like both, base

and wearing course.

• The type of surface depends upon the availability of materials,

equipment and magnitude of surface loads
Bituminous Surfacing
• Either a wearing course or a binder course with a
wearing course depending upon the traffic

• If the wearing course premix carpet of thickness up

to 25 mm is adopted, the thickness of surfacing
should not be counted towards the total thickness of
the pavement

Seal Coat:
Seal coat is a thin surface treatment used to water-proof the surface and to
provide skid resistance.

Tack Coat:
Tack coat is a very light application of asphalt, usually asphalt emulsion
diluted with water. It provides proper bonding between two layer of binder
course and must be thin, uniformly cover the entire surface, and set very

Prime Coat:
Prime coat is an application of low viscous cutback bitumen to an absorbent
surface like granular bases on which binder layer is placed. It provides
bonding between two layers. Unlike tack coat, prime coat penetrates into
the layer below, plugs the voids, and forms a water tight surface.
Comparison of Highway and Airport Pavements
Points Highway Pavements Airport Pavements
No. of load 100-2000 vehicles/day on a busy 500-25000 repetitions of load
repetitions highway during entire design life of the
airport pavement
Gross Weight Normal weight of laden Weight of present day aircraft is
trucks(except military and other 350 tons
special vehicles) is around 10 tons
Tyre Pressure Around 6kg/cm2 Around 28kg/cm2
Thickness of a given Thicker due to higher repetition of Less thicker due to less repetition
Pavement for a given loads of loads
wheel load and tyre
Width of Pavement Total width depend upon number Airport runway requires lot of
of lanes, generally 3.5m per lane width from 22.5m to 45m
Failure of Rigid Type Usually fails in pumping distress if No such phenomenon is noticed
Pavements situated on clayey subgrades for rigid airport pavements on
same type of soil
Failure of Flexible Distress at pavement edges Distress towards center
type of pavements
Factors Affecting Design and
Performance of Pavement
• Rigid and Flexible (applies to both)
1. Traffic
– Gross Load and Tire Pressure
– Properties of Subgrade and paving materials
– Repetition of loads
– Radius of Load Influence
– Speed
– Axle and Wheel Configuration

2. Climate
– Rainfall
– Frost Heave
– Spring Break Up
– Shrinkage and Swell
– Freeze-Thaw and wet-dry
3. Geometry
– Traffic distribution across pavement
4. Position
– Cut and Fill Sections
– Depth to water table
– Landslides and related problems
– Deep soft deposits

Traffic & Loading

• Axle loads
• Repetitions of Load
• Contact Area
• Vehicle Speeds
Axle Configurations and Loads

Single Axle With Single Wheel Tandem Axle

(Legal Axle Load = 6t) (Legal Axle Load = 18t)

Single Axle With Dual Wheel

(Legal Axle Load = 10t)

Tridem Axle
(Legal Axle Load = 24t)
Truck Configuration

2 Axle Truck – 16t

3 Axle Truck – 24t

Truck Configuration

4 Axle Semi Articulated – 34t

4 Axle Articulated
Truck Configuration

5 Axle Truck – 40t

Effect of Wheel Configuration

1 2 3

1.8 m

•The effect of axles 1, 2 and 3 on stresses and strains within pavement layers
should be considered independently.
•Within a group of axles, each axle can not be considered as independent.
•In the design of flexible pavements by layer theory, only the wheels on one side
are considered.
•In the design of rigid pavements by plate theory, the wheels on both sides (even at
a distance more than 1.8 m) are usually considered.
Repetitions of Axle Loads

• The damage caused by each axle depends on its load,

configuration and repetitions
• It is possible to evaluate the damage caused by the
repetitions of each axle load group
• Instead of analysing each axle load group separately,
they can be converted into equivalent repetitions of a
standard axle using equivalent axle load factors
Standard Axle

Single axle with dual wheels carrying a load of 80 kN

(8 tonnes) is defined as standard axle

80 kN

Standard Axle
Tyre Pressure
The pressure in an inflated rubber tube of a tyre is tyre pressure or

Contact pressure is a pressure or stress developed due to wheel load
over the tyre imprint area of the pavement surface.
Relationship between Contact
Pressure and Tyre Pressure
Wall of the tyre in Wall of the tyre in
Compression Tension

Tyre Pressure Tyre Pressure

Contact Pressure Contact Pressure

Low Pressure Tyre High Pressure Tyre

Contact Pressure > Contact Pressure <
Tyre Pressure Tyre Pressure
Relationship between Contact
Pressure and Tyre Pressure
Tyre pressure (kPa) 900




500 600 700 800 900
Contact pressure (kPa)
Shape of Contact Area

• The true shape of contact area is elliptical

• In the analysis of flexible pavements, however, it is
approximated to circular shape for the ease of calculations
• Thus, the radius of the contact area (a) for a wheel load P and
contact pressure p can be found out as

Shape of Contact Area
• The contact area can not be approximated to a circular shape in the case of
rigid pavements, as the error committed by this assumption is significant
• For the convenience of calculations, the elliptical shape is approximated by a
rectangle and two semicircles as

0.6 L

• Therefore, contact area Ac is given by
Ac =  (0.3L)2 + (0.4L)(0.6L)
= 0.5227 L2
Wheel Load (P) Vs Contact Pressure (p)

(P, p)
(P, 2p)
Vertical Stress (kPa)

1000 (2P, p)
(2P, 2p)




0 0.5 1 1.5 2
Depth (m)
Wheel Load Vs Contact Presssure

• The influence of contact pressure on stress levels in base,

subbase and subgrade layers are marginal

• The magnitude of contact pressure determines the quality

and thickness of the wearing and binder courses

• The influence of the magnitude of the wheel load on stress

levels in base, subbase and subgrade layers is significant

• The total thickness of the pavement is mainly determined

by the magnitude of the load and not the contact pressure
Vehicle Speed

• Speed of vehicles is directly related to the duration

of loading on viscoelastic layers
• For elastic layers, the resilient modulus of each layer
should be selected based on the vehicle speed
• Greater the speed, the larger the modulus, and the
smaller the strains in the pavement
• Temperature – Effect on Asphalt Layers
– The elastic and viscoelastic properties of asphaltic concrete are altered
by pavement temperature
– In hot weather the pavement temperatures are significantly higher than
the ambient atmosperic temperatures and the asphalt layers may lose
their stiffness
– In cold weather the resulting low temperatures cause the asphalt
layers to become rigid reducing the vertical compressive strains. Low
temperatures, however, may cause asphalt layers to crack
• Temperature – Effect on Rigid Pavement
– Temperature differential between top and bottom of concrete
pavements affects not only the curling stress but also the slab-
subgrade contact
• During day time, when the temperature at top is higher than that at
bottom, the slab curls down and the interior of the slab may not be
in contact with the subgrade
• During night time, when the temperature at top is lower than that at
bottom, the slab curls upwards leaving the edge and corner out of
contact with subgrade
• The loss of subgrade contact will effect the wheel load stresses
– The difference between maximum and minimum temperature also
causes the joint to open effecting the load transfer
Moisture Variations

• Moisture variations in pavement layers may be caused due to

precipitation or a high ground water table
• Proper surface and subsurface drainage measures will reduce the
moisture variations in pavement layers
• The water table should be kept at least 1.0 m below the pavement
• The ill effects of poor drainage include loss of subgrade stiffness in
flexible pavements and pumping and loss of support in rigid pavements
• In cold climates subgrades will become very stiff in winter due to frost
formation and weaker in the spring due to the melting of frost saturating
the subgrade
• In mechanistic method of pavement design, properties of
materials must be specified for determining stresses, strains
and deflections
• Flexible pavements
– Resilient modulus and poisson ratio of subgrade and untreated granular layers
– Dynamic modulus, temperature sensitivity and poisson ratio of asphaltic layers
• Rigid pavements
– Modulus of subgrade reaction
– Modulus of elasticity, poisson ratio, flexural strength and coefficient of thermal
expansion of concrete
– Allowable bearing stress in concrete for dowel bars
Failure Criteria
• In empirical mechanistic method of pavement design
number of failure criteria are adopted depending on the
distress type
• Following failure criteria are normally adopted
• Flexible Pavements
– Fatigue cracking
– Rutting
– Thermal cracking
• Rigid Pavements
– Fatigue cracking
– Pumping or erosion
– Faulting/spalling/joint deterioration
For Rigid Pavement only
1. Climate
– Rainfall (Pumping and Blowing)
– Daily Variations of temperature
2. Construction and maintenance
– Faulty installation and maintenance of joints
– Improper levelling course
– Dry subgrade
– Dirty aggregate (bond and bending important)
– Durability of aggregate
– Poor compaction of subgrade and base

For Flexible Pavement only
1. Climate
– Seasonal Variations of temperature
2. Construction and maintenance
– Poor compaction of subgrade and base
– Improper Heating of pavement materials
– Rutted base and subgrade
– Stripping