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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-066
Date: October 2011

 

Impact of Design Features on Pavement Response and Performance in Rehabilitated Flexible and Rigid Pavements

Appendix B. Practical Guide: Selection of Pavement Maintenance Alternatives

This appendix is intended to help users select the best pavement maintenance alternatives based on the results of this study and on specific conditions of pavement sections planned for maintenance. The most relevant differences in performance determined in this research are those for flexible pavements under the SPS-3 experiment, which is partially related to the larger sample size and the number of alternatives evaluated in the study. Under the SPS-4 experiment, only the performance of one maintenance alternative, joint/crack seal, could be evaluated. The second treatment, undersealing, had a sample size that was too small to obtain any meaningful results.

Flexible Pavements

Five alternatives were evaluated for flexible pavements: control, thin overlay, slurry seal, crack seal, and chip seal.

The conditions that were evaluated included climate (temperature and moisture), subgrade type (fine grained versus coarse grained), traffic loading (low versus high), and pavement condition (good, fair, or poor).

The best performances among the alternative treatments evaluated were thin overlay and chip seal. Thin overlay was most effective when rutting or roughness were the major existing distresses. Chip seal was the most effective when fatigue cracking was the major existing distress. Table 116 summarizes the best alternatives given specific conditions of the pavement section.

Table 116. Preferred flexible pavement treatments.

Distress

Preferred Treatment

Temperature

Precipitation

Subgrade

Traffic

Pavement Condition

Freeze

No-freeze

Dry

Wet

Fine

Coarse

Low

High

Good

Fair

Poor

Fatigue Cracking

1st choice

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

CH

TH

2d choice

TH

-

 -

TH

-

TH

-

TH

-

-

CH

Rutting

1st choice

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

TH

2d choice

CH

-

CH

-

 -

-

 -

-

 -

 -

Roughness

1st choice

TH

None

None

None

TH

TH

None

TH

None

None

TH

CH = chip seal and TH = thin overlay.
-  Indicates that no data are available.
Note: None means that neither treatment alternative performed significantly better than the control section. CH is not included as an option for roughness because it was never the preferred treatment method.

Example

An engineer is planning the maintenance of a road section placed on a coarse subgrade with a high level of traffic. The section is located in a wet, no-freeze location, and the existing pavement condition is poor with fatigue cracking and roughness being the major existing distresses. In this case, the engineer should concentrate only on the choices to mitigate fatigue cracking and roughness, since these are the major distresses. Table 117 provides the possible options.

Table 117. Flexible pavement example.

Distress

Preferred Treatment

Temperature

Precipitation

Subgrade

Traffic

Pavement Condition

No-freeze

Wet

Coarse

High

Poor

Fatigue cracking

1st choice

CH

CH

CH

CH

TH

2d choice

-

TH

TH

TH

CH

Roughness

1st choice

-

-

TH

TH

TH

CH = chip seal and TH = thin overlay.
- Indicates that no data are available.

From the table, the choice appears straightforward. Although chip seal is the best choice for fatigue cracking under most conditions, thin overlay is also a good choice for fatigue cracking, particularly if the pavement is in poor condition. Moreover, only thin overlays can help mitigate roughness. If the difference in cost between chip seal and thin overlay is not an issue, the pavement treatment choice is thin overlay.

Rigid Pavements

Three alternatives were evaluated for rigid pavements: control, joint/crack seal, and undersealing.

The conditions that were evaluated included climate (temperature and moisture), subgrade type (fine grained versus coarse grained), traffic loading (low versus high), and pavement condition (good, fair, or poor).

There were no differences in performance between the control and the two maintenance alternatives evaluated in this study. However it is important to note that the sample size was small, particularly for the evaluation of undersealing, which only had eight sites.

 


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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with field offices across the United States. is a major agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Provide leadership and technology for the delivery of long life pavements that meet our customers needs and are safe, cost effective, and can be effectively maintained. Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) R&T Web site portal, which provides access to or information about the Agency’s R&T program, projects, partnerships, publications, and results.
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