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PAVEMENT

DESIGN AND
CONSTRUCTION

Pavement Design Terms


and
Definitions

Equivalent Single Axle Load


(ESAL)
ESAL is the acronym for Equivalent Single Axle Load.
ESAL is a concept developed from data collected at
the American Association of State Highway Officials
(AASHO) Road Test to establish a damage relationship
for comparing the effects of axles carrying different
loads.
The reference axle load is an 18,000-lb.(80kN) single
axle with dual tires.

Equivalent 18-Kip Axle Applications per 1,000 Trucks


Highway Class

Equivalent Axle Applications

Freeways

1100

Major Arterials

880

Minor Arterial (Urban and


Suburban)

880

Minor Arterial (Rural)

660

Collector (Urban and Suburban)

880

Collector (Rural)

660

Local Roads, Urban and Suburban

660

Local Roads, Rural

660

Pavement Serviceability Index


(PSI)
Also known as Present Serviceability Index, the PSI is just a
measure of the current overall rating of a section of highway based
upon visual observation. The scale goes from 5 (perfect) to 0
(awful).

In pavement design, it is used to


define the minimum acceptable
level of quality.
ThisterminalPSI (Terminal
Serviceability Index (Pt)) allows an
agency to define what is the
anticipated PSI when a road is
rebuilt or rehabilitated.

Structural Number (SN)


In designing and building pavements, we sometimes
casually assume that making a pavement thicker also
makes it stronger, but even to the extent this is true, how
thick is thick enough? One of the key questions in the
structural design of an asphalt pavement is how thick
each layer of the structure should be. During design, these
thicknesses are related to the Structural Number (SN),
which is an abstract value that expresses the structural
strength of the overall pavement.

The Structural Number (SN) represents the overall structural


requirement needed to sustain the designs traffic loadings. It is an
abstract number that expresses the structural strength of a pavement
required for given combinations of soil support (MR), total traffic
expressed in ESALs, terminal serviceability and environment.
The following equation can be used to relate individual material types
and thicknesses to the structural number:
SN = a1D1+ a2D2M2+ a3D3M3
where:
a1, a2, a3= structural-layer coefficients of the wearing surface, base,
and subbase layers, respectively,
D1, D2, D3= thickness of the wearing surface, base, and subbase
layers in inches, respectively, and
M2, M3= drainage coefficients for the base and subbase, respectively.

Layer Coefficient
Since the layer coefficient represents the strength of the material, this
is the primary variable that factors in the type of material you plan to
use for each layer. For design purposes, layer coefficients are typically
determined empirically based on the performance of the material.

Common Layer
Coefficients
Hot Mix Asphalt

0.44

Road Mix(Low Stability)

0.20

Aggregate Base

0.13

Engineered Fill

0.10

Drainage Coefficient
A drainage coefficient is a value assigned to a pavement layer that
represents its relative loss of strength due to drainage characteristics
and exposure to moisture saturation. Layers that drain slowly or are
often saturated would have a lower drainage coefficient, while layers
that drain quickly and almost never become saturated would have a
higher drainage coefficient. For most pavement designs, it is probably
simplest and best to set the drainage coefficient equal to 1, which
Common
indicates normal drainage characteristics.
Hot Mix Asphalt

0.44

Road Mix(Low Stability)

0.20

Aggregate Base

0.13

Engineered Fill

0.10