Research Reports

Characterizing Seasonal Variations in Pavement Material Properties for Use in a Mechanistic-Empirical Design Procedure

Principal Investigator:

Jill M Ovik, Bjorn Birgisson, Dave Newcomb

September 2000

Report no. MnDOT 2000-35

Projects: Seasonal Changes in Pavement Material Properties

Topics: Pavement design for cold climates

Recent advances in flexible pavement design have prompted agencies to move toward the development and use of mechanistic-empirical (M-E) design procedures. This report analyzed seasonal trends in flexible pavement layer moduli to calibrate a M-E design procedure specific to Minnesota. Seasonal trends in pavement layer moduli were quantified using data from the Minnesota Road Research Project (MnROAD) and Long Term Pavement Performance Seasonal Monitoring Program (LTPP SMP) sites located in Minnesota. The relationships investigated were between climate factors, subsurface environmental conditions, and pavement material mechanical properties. The results show that pavement layer stiffness is highly respondent to changes in the average daily temperature and available moisture. Five seasons were used to characterize the seasonal variations in pavement layer moduli for design purposes. Seasonal factors were used to quantify the cyclic variations in the pavement layer stiffness for a typical year. The maximum stiffness of the pavement layers is reached when temperatures are cooler. The hot mix asphalt layer moduli is at a minimum in the summer when temperatures are high. The granular base layer moduli is at a minimum during the early spring-thaw period when excess moisture is unable to drain. Finally, the fine-grained subgrade layer moduli is at a minimum late spring and summer due to the low permeability and slow recovery of the material. The Integrated Climate Model (ICM) was used in this study to compared predicted data to actual data from MnROAD. It was found that the ICM data compared favorably, however, it was not able to predict the spring-thaw period.

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