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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-073     Date:  March 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-073
Date: March 2017


Analysis of Cracking in Jointed Plain Concrete Pavements

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FHWA Publication No.: FHWA-HRT-16-073
FHWA Contact: Deborah Walker, HRDI-30, 202-493-3068, deborah.walker@dot.gov


This paper investigates the trends of longitudinal and transverse cracking in jointed concrete pavements based on Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) Program Strategic Study of Structural Factors for Rigid Pavements (SPS-2) data. The impacts of slab properties, base type, traffic volume, and environmental factors on the occurrence and extent of longitudinal and transverse cracking were identified from a simple analysis of the raw cracking data. SPS-2 sites in Arizona and Arkansas were chosen to investigate cracking mechanisms in detail. A new hypothesis for the prevalence of premature cracking on these sites was proposed and tested by numerical simulations.

The analysis showed that longitudinal and transverse cracking were more sensitive to slab thickness and base type than other construction variables. Surface cracking was worse in dry climatic zones than wet zones. Most transverse cracks initiated from the slab edge close to the shoulder, and two forms of longitudinal cracks can initiate from transverse edges of slabs: a single long crack or multiple short cracks along the whole section. In addition to inadequate compaction of the base layers during construction and rehabilitation, the major contribution to premature longitudinal cracking appeared to be voiding beneath the outer edge of the pavement. This is caused by localized plastic deformation of “depressurized” soil, which occurs principally due to slab curl.

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