Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements: There's More to Roads than Asphalt and Concrete!

by Charles W. Schwartz, Ph.D., (M.ASCE), Professor, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering; College Park, MD, schwartz@umd.edu,
Barry R. Christopher, P.E., Ph.D., (M.ASCE), Geotechnical Engineering Consultant, barryc325@aol.com,
Erol Tutumluer, Ph.D., (M.ASCE), Professor, Paul Fraser Kent Faculty Scholar; Champaign, IL, tutumlue@uiuc.edu,


Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2016, Vol. 20, Issue 3, Pg. 44-50


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: When you jump on the highway to make that commute to work, do you think much about what's under the surface you ride on? Pavements are layered systems designed to provide a strong structure to support applied traffic loads (structural capacity), a smooth wearing surface (ride quality), and a skid-resistant wearing surface (safety). The system also must have sufficient durability so that it does not deteriorate prematurely due to environmental influences. Satisfactory pavement performance depends on the proper design and functioning of all components. The wearing surface provides sufficient smoothness, friction resistance, and sealing or drainage of surface water. The bound structural layers (i.e., asphalt or Portland cement concrete [PCC]) provide part of the load-carrying capacity, as well as barriers to water intrusion into the underlying unbound materials. The unbound granular base and subbase layers, complemented by features such as drainage systems, provide the remaining structural capacity.

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