Inverted base pavement structures
Cortes Avellaneda, Douglas D.
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An inverted base pavement is a new pavement structure that consists of an unbound aggregate base between a stiff cement-treated foundation layer and a thin asphalt cover. Unlike conventional pavements which rely on upper stiff layers to bear and spread traffic loads, the unbound aggregate inter-layer in an inverted base pavement plays a major role in the mechanical response of the pavement structure. Traditional empirical pavement design methods rely on rules developed through long-term experience with conventional flexible or rigid pavement structures. The boundaries imposed on the unbound aggregate base in an inverted pavement structure change radically from those in conventional pavements. Therefore, current empirically derived design methods are unsuitable for the analysis of inverted base pavements. The present work documents a comprehensive experimental study on a full-scale inverted pavement test section built near LaGrange, Georgia. A detailed description of the mechanical behavior of the test section before, during and after construction provides critically needed understanding of the internal behavior and macro-scale performance of this pavement structure. Given the critical role of the unbound aggregate base and its proximity to the surface, a new field test was developed to characterize the stress-dependent stiffness of the as-built layer. A complementary numerical study that incorporates state-of-the-art concepts in constitutive modeling of unbound aggregates is used to analyze experimental results and to develop preliminary guidelines for inverted base pavement design. Simulation results show that an inverted pavement can deliver superior rutting resistance compared to a conventional flexible pavement structure with the same fatigue life. Furthermore, results show that an inverted base pavement structure can exceed the structural capacity of conventional flexible pavement designs for three typical road types both in rutting and fatigue while saving up to 40% of the initial construction costs.