Efforts to Reduce Reflective Cracking of Bituminous Concrete Overlays of Portland Cement Concrete Pavements

Report No: 76-R20

Published in 1975

About the report:

Studies of efforts in Virginia to reduce the incidence of reflection cracking when portland cement concrete pavements or bases are overlayed with asphaltic concrete are reported. The methods of reflection crack reduction discussed are: (1) The use of sand as a bond breaker between portland cement concrete pavements and asphaltic overlays, (2) the use of a high tensile strength fabric as a stress relieving layer between two asphaltic concrete overlays of an old portland cement concrete pavement on a weak subbase, and (3) the use of two types of fabric as stress relieving layers between asphaltic layers and a concrete base on a very strong subbase and subgrade. The following conclusions were drawn. 1. Neither sand as a bond breaker nor high strength fabrics as stress relieving layers are effective in reducing reflection cracking where vertical joint movement (differential deflection) is a significant factor. 2. When differential deflections are greater than about 0.002 in (0.05 mm) reflection cracks form early. Such cracking is delayed for lower differential deflection but may occur as the magnitude and frequency of wheel loadings increase. 3. Both an asphalt impregnated polypropylene fabric and an unwoven, spun-bonded nylon fabric, when placed to span joints in portland cement concrete base and covered with an asphaltic concrete, overlay, are able to sustain the formation of reflection cracking in the overlaying layer without undergoing damage. 4. An asphalt impregnated polypropylene fabric spanning the joints in portland cement concrete pavements, and placed between the pavement and an asphaltic overlay, may be effective in reducing the infiltration of surface water to pavement sub-layers. There is some evidence that pavement pumping may be reduced by this method. 5. Both an asphalt impregnated polypropylene fabric and an unwoven, spun-bonded nylon fabric can delay the formation of reflection cracking. There is strong evidence, however, that such cracking is fatigue in nature and will eventually develop under the application of repetitive wheel loadings.

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.


Other Authors

Kenneth H. McGhee

Last updated: January 29, 2024

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