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FHWA > Engineering > Geotech > NHI05037: Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements > Appendix C 
Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements Reference ManualAppendix C: 1993 AASHTO Design MethodC.1 IntroductionThe AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures (AASHTO, 1993) is the primary document used to design new and rehabilitated highway pavements. Approximately 80% of all states use the AASHTO pavement design procedures, with the majority using the 1993 version. All versions of the AASHTO Design Guide are empirical design methods based on field performance data measured at the AASHO Road Test in 195860. Chapter 3 of this manual describes the evolution of the various versions of the AASHTO Design Guide. Geotechnical inputs to the 1993 AASHTO design procedure are detailed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 provides some design examples using the 1993 AASHTO procedures. The overall approach of the 1993 AASHTO procedure for both flexible and rigid pavements is to design for a specified serviceability loss at the end of the design life of the pavement. Serviceability is defined in terms of the Present Serviceability Index, PSI, which varies between the limits of 5 (best) and 0 (worst). Serviceability loss at end of design life, ΔPSI, is partitioned between traffic and environmental effects, as follows (see also Figure 3.8): (C.1)ΔPSI = ΔPSI_{TR} + ΔPSI_{SW} + ΔPSI_{FH} in which ΔPSI_{TR}, ΔPSI_{SW} and ΔPSI_{FH} are the components of serviceability loss attributable to traffic, swelling, and frost heave, respectively. The structural design procedures for swelling and frost heave are the same for both flexible and rigid pavements; these are detailed in Appendix G of the 1993 AASHTO Guide. The structural design procedures for traffic are different for flexible and rigid pavement types. These procedures are summarized below in Sections C.2 and C.3, respectively. For simplicity, only the design procedures for new construction are summarized here. The design procedures for reconstruction are similar, except that characterization of recycled materials may be required. See the 1993 AASHTO Guide for details of additional procedures (e.g., determination of remaining structural life for overlay design) relevant to rehabilitation design. C.2 Flexible Pavement Structural DesignDesign EquationThe empirical expression relating traffic, pavement structure, and pavement performance for flexible pavements is: (C.2)log_{10} ( W_{18} ) = Z_{R} S_{0} + 9.36 log_{10} ( SN + 1 )  0.20
in which:
The first five parameters typically are the inputs to the design equation, and SN is the output. Equation (C.2) must be solved implicitly for the structural number SN as a function of the input parameters. The structural number SN is defined as: (C.3)SN = a_{1} D_{1} + a_{2} D_{2} m_{2} + a_{3} D_{3} m_{3} in which D_{1}, D_{2}, and D_{3} are the thicknesses (inches) of the surface, base, and subbase layers, respectively, a_{1}, a_{2}, and a_{3} are corresponding structural layer coefficients, and m_{2} and m_{3} are drainage coefficients for the base and subbase layers, respectively. Equation (C.3) can be generalized for additional bound and/or unbound layers. Note that there may be many combinations of layer thicknesses that can provide satisfactory SN values; cost and other issues must be considered to determine the optimal final design. Design InputsAnalysis PeriodPerformance period refers to the time that a pavement design is intended to last before it needs rehabilitation. It is equivalent to the time elapsed as a new, reconstructed, or rehabilitated pavement structure deteriorates from its initial serviceability to its terminal serviceability. The term "analysis period" refers to the overall duration that the design strategy must cover. It may be identical to the performance period. However, realistic performance limitations may require planned rehabilitation within the desired analysis period, in which case, the analysis period may encompass multiple performance periods. Analysis period in this context is synonymous with design life in the 1993 AASHTO Guide. AASHTO recommendations for analysis periods for different types of roads are summarized in Table C1.
TrafficTraffic is one of the most important factors in pavement design, and every effort should be made to collect accurate data specific to each project. Traffic analysis requires the evaluation of initial traffic volume, traffic growth, directional distribution, and traffic type. The AASHTO Design Guide is based on cumulative 18 kip (80 KN) equivalent singleaxle loads (ESALs). Detailed traffic analysis is beyond the scope of this reference manual. However, ESALs may be estimated using the following equation: (C.4)ESAL = ( ADT_{0} ) ( T ) ( T_{f} ) ( G ) ( D ) ( L ) ( 365 ) ( Y ) in which:
AASHTO (1993) and standard pavement engineering textbooks (e.g., Huang, 2004) provide details on the determination of all of these parameters and estimation of design ESALs. ReliabilityDesign reliability is defined as the probability that a pavement section will perform satisfactorily over the design period. It must account for uncertainties in traffic loading, environmental conditions, and construction materials. The AASHTO design method accounts for these uncertainties by incorporating a reliability level R to provide a factor of safety into the pavement design and thereby increase the probability that the pavement will perform as intended over its design life. The levels of reliability recommended by AASHTO for various classes of roads are summarized in Table C2.
Note: Results base on a survey of AASHTO Pavement Design Task Force. The reliability level is not included directly in the AASHTO design equations. Rather, it is used to determine the standard normal deviate Z_{R}. Values of Z_{R} corresponding to selected levels of reliability are summarized in Table C3.
The AASHTO design equations also require specification of the overall standard deviation S_{0}. For flexible pavements, values for S_{0} typically range between 0.35 and 0.50, with a value of 0.45 commonly used for design. ServiceabilityServiceability is quantified by the Present Serviceability Index, PSI. Although PSI theoretically ranges between 5 and 0, the actual range for real pavements is between about 4.5 to 1.5. The initial serviceability index p_{o} corresponds to road conditions immediately after construction. A typical value of p_{o} for flexible pavements is 4.2. The terminal serviceability index p_{t} is defined as the lowest serviceability that will be tolerated before rehabilitation or reconstruction becomes necessary. A terminal serviceability index of 2.5 or higher is recommended for design of major highways. Thus, a typical allowable serviceability loss due to traffic for flexible pavements can be expressed as: (C.5)ΔPSI = p_{t}  p_{o} = 4.2  2.5 = 1.7 Subgrade Resilient ModulusPavement subgrade quality is defined in terms of its resilient modulus M_{R}. The resilient modulus M_{R} is a basic material property that can be measured directly in the laboratory, evaluated insitu from nondestructive tests, or estimated using various empirical relations as detailed in Chapter 5. The 1993 AASHTO Design Guide also incorporates a procedure for considering seasonal fluctuations in M_{R} to determine a seasonally averaged value for use in design. This procedure is summarized in Section 5.4.3. Layer PropertiesThe material properties required for each layer are the structural layer coefficients a_{i} and, for unbound materials, the drainage coefficients m_{i}. Methods for evaluating the a_{i} and m_{i} values for unbound materials are detailed in Sections 5.4.5 and 5.5.1, respectively. The chart in Figure C1 can be used to estimate the structural layer coefficient for asphalt concrete in terms of its elastic modulus at 68°F. Values of a_{1} between 0.4 and 0.44 are typically used for dense graded asphalt concrete. Figure C1. Chart for estimating structural layer coefficient of densegraded asphalt concrete based on the elastic (resilient) modulus (AASHTO, 1993). ProcedureThe steps in the 1993 AASHTO flexible pavement design procedure are summarized below in the context of the example baseline scenario presented in Section 6.2.1:
C.3 Rigid Pavement Structural DesignDesign EquationThe empirical expression relating traffic, pavement structure, and pavement performance for rigid pavements is: (C.6)log_{10} ( W_{18} ) = Z_{R} S_{o} + 7.35 log_{10} ( D + 1 )  0.06
in which:
The first ten parameters typically are the inputs to the design equation, and D is the output. Equation (C.6) must be solved implicitly for the slab thickness D as a function of the input parameters. The design of JRCP and CRCP pavements also requires design of the steel reinforcement. Reinforcement design is beyond the scope of this manual; refer to the 1993 AASHTO Guide for details on this. Design InputsAnalysis PeriodSame as for flexible pavements; see Section 0. TrafficSame as for flexible pavements; see Section 0. Note that the truck factor T_{f} will not in general be the same for rigid and flexible pavements. Refer to the 1993 AASHTO Design Guide or standard pavement engineering textbooks like Huang (2004) for determination of the truck factor. ReliabilitySimilar to flexible pavements; see Section 0. For rigid pavements, values for S_{0} typically range between 0.3 and 0.45, with a value of 0.35 commonly used for design. ServiceabilitySimilar to flexible pavements; see Section 0. A typical value of p_{o} for rigid pavements is 4.4. As for flexible pavements, a terminal serviceability index of 2.5 or higher is recommended for design of major highways. Thus, a typical allowable serviceability loss due to traffic for rigid pavements can be expressed as: (C.7)ΔPSI = p_{t}  p_{o} = 4.4  2.5 = 1.9 Modulus of Subgrade ReactionThe design modulus of subgrade reaction k is a computed quantity that is a function of the following properties:
See Section 5.4.6 for the procedure for determining the design value for the modulus of subgrade reaction k. Other Layer PropertiesOther layer properties include the modulus of rupture S_{c} and elastic modulus E_{c} for the Portland cement concrete slabs, an empirical joint load transfer coefficient J, and the subbase drainage coefficient C_{d}. The PCC parameters S_{c} and E_{c} are standard material properties; mean values should be used for the pavement design inputs. The joint load transfer coefficient J is a function of the shoulder type and the load transfer condition between the pavement slab and shoulders; recommended values are summarized in Table C4. See Section 5.5.1 for determination of the drainage coefficient C_{d}.
ProcedureThe steps in the 1993 AASHTO rigid pavement design procedure are summarized below in the context of the example baseline scenario presented in Section 6.2.1:
Note that the thickness assumed for the granular subbase in Step 5 can influence the required slab thickness computed in Step 8. If desired, several design alternatives can be evaluated to arrive at the optimal design. C.4 SoftwareThe empirical design equations for flexible and rigid pavements in Eqs. (C.2) and (C.6) are implicit relationships for the required structural number SN and slab thickness D, respectively. Consequently, an iterative solution algorithm is required. The 1993 AASHTO Design Guide provides nomographs for the graphical evaluation of these equations. They can also be evaluated easily using a spreadsheet, e.g., via the Solver tool in Microsoft Excel. DARWin, a comprehensive software program tied to the 1993 AASHTO Design Guide procedures, is also available through AASHTO. Additional information on DARWin can be found at http://darwin.aashtoware.org/. C.5 References
Notes

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Updated: 01/23/2014 