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High Performance Concrete Pavements: Technical Summary



Under Test and Evaluation Project 30 (TE-30), High Performance Concrete Pavement (HPCP), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is exploring the applicability of innovative portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement design and construction concepts in the United States. These innovative concepts, ranging from the use of trapezoidal cross sections to alternative dowel bar materials to fiber-reinforced concrete, all share the same TE-30 goal of providing long lasting, economical, PCC pavements that meet the specific performance requirements of their particular application.

The TE-30 program actually got its start in May 1992 when a team of State, industry, and Federal engineers participated in the U.S. Tour of European Concrete Highways (FHWA 1992). During that visit, the tour participants were exposed to a wealth of information on concrete pavement materials, structural designs, and construction that could benefit concrete pavements in the United States. Followup visits to Germany and Austria in October 1992 (Larson, Vanikar, and Forster 1993) provided additional information that was used to construct an experimental concrete pavement in the United States consisting of a German structural design (to provide long service life) and an Austrian exposed aggregate surface (to reduce tire/pavement noise). That pavement, a 1.6-km (1-mi) test section located in the northbound lanes of I-75 (Chrysler Freeway) in downtown Detroit, was constructed in 1993 (Weinfurter, Smiley, and Till 1994).

The success of the I-75 project in incorporating European design concepts that hold the promise of long lasting, low-maintenance concrete pavements spawned a great interest in pursuing similar projects. In 1994, both FHWA and industry agreed to pursue this effort, effectively launching the TE-30 program. Broad functional or performance criteria were established so that participating State highway agencies could select the area considered appropriate for improving the performance of concrete pavements in their States. Several innovation areas for the program were suggested:

  • Increasing pavement service life.
  • Decreasing construction time.
  • Lowering life-cycle costs.
  • Lowering maintenance costs.
  • Constructing ultra-smooth riding concrete pavements.
  • Incorporating recycled or waste products while maintaining quality.
  • Utilizing innovative construction equipment or procedures.
  • Utilizing innovative quality initiatives.

Specific target projects were later added, including joint sealing alternatives, alternative load transfer devices, durable concrete mix designs, alternative surface finishing techniques, and more cost-effective use of paving materials (such as widened lanes, trapezoidal cross sections, and two-lift construction).

In each of these applications, emphasis is given to an integrated design approach in which site influences (traffic loading, climate, and subgrade), concrete mix design, structural design, joint details, and construction are considered together to develop the appropriate pavement design. Consequently, the term "high performance" does not necessarily refer to high strength concrete, but rather to any of the materials and mix design, structural design, or construction components of the pavement that are expected to contribute to long-term performance.

Summary of Field Projects

The TE-30 program has funded approximately 25 field projects since 1996. These projects were intended to test and evaluate innovative concrete pavement technology in "on-the-road" applications. A preliminary report summarized the status of the projects initiated through December 2001 (FHWA 2002), and yielded two other reports, one on pavement texturing (Hoerner and Smith 2002) and one on alternative dowel bars (Smith 2002). Since that time, additional field projects have been constructed and several construction and early performance reports prepared. Additionally, projects under Task 7 of FHWA's Concrete Pavement Technology Program (CPTP), Field Trials of Concrete Pavement Product and Process Technology, share similar goals and objectives as those in the TE-30 program. The projects included in this report, consequently, are those from the original FHWA report (FHWA 2002) and an additional 15 projects identified by FHWA.

A list of the included projects is in Appendix A. For each project, the table includes information on the design features evaluated, the year built, whether the project was funded under the TE-30 program, and the type of concrete pavement: jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP), jointed reinforced concrete pavement (JRCP), continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP), precast post-tensioned concrete pavement (PPCP), or fiber-reinforced concrete pavement (FRCP).

Purpose and Overview of Updated Summary Report and Technical Summary

The report entitled High Performance Concrete Pavements: Project Summary (FHWA 2006) is the basis for this Technical Summary. It is the purpose of this Technical Summary to document the current status of concrete pavement projects constructed under the TE-30 program and under Task 7 of CPTP, as well as several other related concrete pavement projects. Current and anticipated results are also described, as are recommendations for relevant future research activities.

Significant findings are related to CPTP's six focus areas to aid others who are evaluating similar features or technologies. In some cases, more current project status information is provided that was not available when the updated summary report was prepared.

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Updated: 09/21/2015
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