Characterization of Unbound Pavement Materials from Virginia Sources for Use in the New Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Procedure

Report No: 11-R6

Published in 2010

About the report:

The implementation of mechanistic-empirical pavement design requires mechanistic characterization of pavement layer materials.  The subgrade and base materials are used as unbound, and their characterization for Virginia sources was considered in this study as a supplement to a previous study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council.  Resilient modulus tests were performed in accordance with AASHTO T 307 on fine and coarse soils along with base aggregates used in Virginia.  The degree of saturation as determined by moisture content and density has shown significant influence on the resilient behavior of these unbound materials.  The resilient modulus values, or k-values, are presented as reference for use by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). 

The results of other tests were analyzed for correlation with the results of the resilient modulus test to determine their use in estimating resilient modulus values.  The results of the triaxial compression test, referred to as the quick shear test in AASHTO T 307, correlated favorably with the resilient modulus.  Although the complexity of such a test is similar to that of the resilient modulus test for cohesionless coarse soil and base aggregate, fine cohesive soil can be tested with a simpler triaxial test: the unconfined compression test.  In this study, a model was developed to estimate the resilient modulus of fine soil from the initial tangent modulus produced on a stress-strain diagram from an unconfined compression test. 

The following recommendations are made to VDOT’s Materials Division: (1) implement the use of the resilient modulus test for pavement design along with the implementation of the MEPDG; (2) use the universal constitutive model recommended by the MEPDG to generate the k-values needed as input to MEPDG Level 1 design/analysis for resilient modulus calculation; (3) develop a database of resilient modulus values (or k-values), which could be used in MEPDG design/analysis if a reasonable material match were to be found; (4) use the initial tangent modulus from an unconfined compression test to predict the resilient modulus values of fine soils for MEPDG Level 2 input and the 1993 AASHTO design; and (5) continue to collect data for the unconfined compression test and update the prediction model for fine soil in collaboration with the Virginia Transportation Research Council.

Implementing these recommendations would support and expedite the implementation efforts under way by VDOT to initiate the statewide use of the MEPDG.  The use of the MEPDG is expected to improve VDOT’s pavement design capability and should allow VDOT to design pavements with a longer service life and fewer maintenance needs and to predict maintenance and rehabilitation needs more accurately over the life of the pavement.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 17, 2023

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