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Concrete Pavement Technology Update

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In This Update:

Quest for Long-Life Concrete Pavements

U.S. Experts Learn Canadian and European Approaches

In May 2006, a team of 13 concrete pavement and concrete materials specialists from the United States visited Canada, Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to identify successful design approaches, material requirements, construction practices, and maintenance strategies for long-life concrete pavements. The scan tour was sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The team included experts and leaders from FHWA, State departments of transportation, academia, and industry. The following activities were conducted:

  • Canada - meetings in Toronto with the staff of the Ontario and Quebec Ministries of Transport and the Cement Association of Canada, as well as a visit to Highway 407 in Toronto.
  • Germany - meetings at the German Cement Works Association (VDZ), Düsseldorf; the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), Bergisch Gladbach; and the Technical University of Munich, Munich. A site visit was also made to a continuously reinforced concrete test section south of Frankfurt.
  • Austria - meetings at the Association of the Austrian Cement Industry, Vienna, jointly organized with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport; visits to several concrete pavement roadways; and a presentation on the NanoCem consortium in Europe.
  • Belgium - meetings in Brussels, organized by FEBELCEM (the Federation of the Belgian Cement Industry), with the Ministry of Equipment and Transport of the Walloon Region and the Infrastructure Agency of the Ministry of the Flemish Community; also, site visits to several concrete pavement projects.
  • The Netherlands - meetings with staff of the CROW Technology Center (national information and technology platform for infrastructure, traffic, transport, and public space) and Dutch consultants and site visits to several concrete pavement projects.
  • The United Kingdom - meetings at Britpave (British In-situ Concrete Paving Association) and TRL, the Transport Research Laboratory.

Typical "super-single" tridem axles in use in European countries visited.

Typical super-single tridem axles in use in European countries visited.

The scan tour confirmed that well-designed and well-constructed concrete pavements (both CRCP and JPCP) continue to be important pavement types in the countries visited. Concrete pavements in the European countries visited are designated as long-life and are designed for 30 or more years of low-maintenance service life. The European countries visited are responding aggressively to pavement-tire noise issues in urban areas, and the exposed aggregate surface is the texture of choice in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and The Netherlands. A two-lift concrete placement is used to obtain the exposed aggregate surface. In the UK, the use of an asphalt-based wearing surface is mandated for highway concrete pavements. Also, Germany and Austria have successfully implemented the use of catalog designs for their jointed plain concrete pavements. Germany requires use of a geo-fabric as a separator layer between cement-treated base and the concrete pavement, while the use of an asphalt concrete interlayer is required in Austria. Belgium primarily uses continuously reinforced pavements.

Exposed aggregate surface on an Austrian motorway pavement.

Exposed aggregate surface on an Austrian motorway pavement.

The long-life concrete pavement scan team tentatively identified the following items as having the greatest impact for improving pavement design and construction practices in the United States:

  • Two-lift concrete placement - to be pursued in combination with exposed aggregate surfaces for noise reduction and/or the use of lower quality aggregates and recycled concrete in the bottom course for economic and environmental needs.
  • Design features catalog - based on theoretical analysis, laboratory investigations, field observations, and expert input.
  • Construction of high-quality foundations - renewed focus on foundation materials, thickness, compaction, and alternative foundation types.
  • Well-developed concrete mixtures - use of combined aggregate gradations that result in a dense, durable concrete matrix that exhibits low paste at the surface; and consideration of cement characteristics for constructability and economics.
  • Geotextile interlayer between the cement treated base and the concrete surface layer - use of a thick geotextile fabric to minimize slab stresses due to curling and warping and as a replacement for asphalt concrete interlayers for unbonded concrete overlays.
  • Exposed aggregate surfacings - use of high-quality, durable aggregates in the top course of the concrete slab, but after additional investigations to determine the levels of reduction in noise that can be achieved.

The final report on the scan trip findings is expected to be available during early 2007. The highlights and findings of the scan trip were discussed at the International Conference on Long-Life Concrete Pavements, held in Chicago, Illinois, October 25 to 27, 2006.

Scan team touring at the accelerated load testing facility at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

Scan team touring at the accelerated load testing facility at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

Article prepared by Shiraz Tayabji,

For more information on the Scan, contact:

Update on CPTP Project Reports

The Concrete Pavement Technology Program continues to produce various reports under each of its six focus areas (design, materials, construction, repair and rehabilitation, user satisfaction, and technology transfer). Recent additions to the CPTP library, listed below, may be accessed at the FHWA Concrete Pavements page. A complete project listing of CPTP reports and products is also available at the Web site.

Tests or Standards to Identify Compatible Combinations of Individually Acceptable Concrete Materials

  • Technical Report (Volume II - Test Protocol) (FHWA-HRT-06-080)
  • Technical Brief (FHWA-HRT-06-082)

Computer-Based Guidelines for Concrete Pavements

  • Volume I: Project Summary (FHWA-HRT-04-121)
  • Volume II: Design and Construction Guidelines and HIPERPAV II User's Manual (FHWA-HRT-04-122)
  • Volume III: Technical Appendices (FHWA-HRT-04-127)

Guide for Curing of Portland Cement Concrete Pavements

  • Technical Report (FHWA-RD-02-099)
  • Technical Brief (FHWA-IF-06-003)

Achieving a High Level of Smoothness in Concrete Pavements Without Sacrificing Long-Term Performance

  • Technical Report (FHWA-HRT-05-068)
  • Technical Brief (FHWA-HRT-05-069)

Long-Term Plan for Concrete Pavement Research and Technology―The Concrete Pavement Road Map

  • Volume I, Background and Summary (FHWA-HRT-05-052)
  • Volume II, Tracks (FHWA-HRT-05-053)
  • Technical Brief (FHWA-HRT-05-074)

High Performance Concrete Pavements

  • Summary of FHWA's Test and Evaluation Project Series (FHWA-IF-06-031)
  • Project Summary (FWHA-IF-06-032)

TechBrief: Use of Magnetic Tomography Technology to Evaluate Dowel Bar Placement (FHWA-IF-06-002)

TechBrief: Maturity Testing for Concrete Pavement Applications (FHWA-IF-06-004)

TechBrief: Concrete Pavement Rehabilitation and Preservation Treatments (FHWA-IF-06-005)

In addition, several publications and documents will be completed within the coming months and should be available from FHWA shortly thereafter. These reports, which are all based on CPTP projects or CPTP-related disciplines, include the following:

  • Use of Magnetic Tomography to Evaluate Dowel Placement
  • Development and Implementation of a Performance-Related Specification (I-65 TN)
  • Construction and Preliminary Monitoring of the Georgetown, Texas Precast Prestressed Concrete Pavement
  • Construction of the California Precast Prestressed Concrete Pavement Demonstration Project
  • Use of Precast Slabs for Full-Depth Repair
  • Best Practices for Concrete Consolidation for Slipform Paving (Technical Brief)
  • Conventional Fast-Track Pavement Rehabilitation (Technical Brief)
  • Guidance for Evaluating Dowel Bar Alignment (Technical Brief)
  • Best Practices for Thin Bonded Whitetopping (Technical Brief)
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Updated: 04/07/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration