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FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY 153

PAVEMENT DUE TO POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE


Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
Paper No. 562
FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE
FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY PAVEMENT DUE TO
POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE
A. VEERARAGAVAN* & LT. COL. SHAILENDRA GROVER**
ABSTRACT
This Paper presents investigations of premature failure of a section of a national highway pavement due to poor sub-surface drainage.
Forensic investigation to ascertain the cause for the failure was carried out by testing the different pavement layers in the field and through
laboratory tests on core samples of various pavement component layer materials. The contributing factors for the pre-mature failure were
identified as inadequate compaction of subgrade/ embankment, excess fines and high plasticity index in the Granular Sub-Base (GSB) layers,
low binder content in the bituminous layers, etc. The laboratory tests on GSB layer materials and permeability tests indicate that the
dramatic pavement failures may be attributable to poor sub-surface drainage and also due to the heavy commercial traffic allowed on the
dense bituminous macadam layers.
Benkelman Beam Deflection (BBD) survey was carried out for structural evaluation of the pavement. Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP)
test data was used in the analysis. Empirical relations from published literature were used to compute the resilient moduli of various
pavement layers. The moduli values were used as input in MICHPAVE (Michigan Flexible Pavement Design System) computer program to
compute the stresses and strains in the pavement layers. The tensile strain values in the bituminous layers and vertical compressive strain
values on top of the subgrade were calculated. The computed strain values were used to predict the performance of the pavement section in
terms of cracking and rutting. These predicted pavement distresses were then compared with the field performance data to validate the test
results. The analysis shows that the theoretically computed stresses and strains can be advantageously used to predict the field performance.
Remedial measures to repair the pavement section and to improve the sub-surface drainage are presented.
1 INTRODUCTION
Indian road network at over 3.3 million km falls under
one of the world's longest road networks. Most of the
highways and airfield pavements built in our country in
the past 30 years or so, have very slow draining systems,
largely because standard design practices emphasizes on
density and stability but place little importance on sub-
surface drainage. The poor sub-surface drainage on these
roads leads to large amount of costly repairs or
replacements long before reaching their design life. Not
much importance has been given to this aspect in India.
The current practices of pavement construction in India
consider the Granular Sub-Base (GSB) as a drainage
layer. However, the gradation and properties of layer
materials seldom permit the layer to be an effective
drainage layer, leading to entrapment of water within the
pavement causing a "bathtub" condition, resulting in
premature failures and chronic pavement distresses.
The present study is an investigation of the pre-mature
failure of a National Highway pavement section
constructed as part of the National Highway Development
Programme (NHDP). The construction of pavement
layers upto the second layer of Dense Bituminous
Macadam (DBM) was completed on this road stretch
during the last week of December 2003 and the road
was opened to traffic movement by January 2004. The
* Professor of Civil Engineering,
** Former M.Tech Student.
Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai - 600 036.
}
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
154 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
annual average rainfall in the region varied between 384
and 949 mm per year during the ten years period 1996-
2005. The traffic was allowed on the Dense Bituminous
Macadam layer before the Bituminous Concrete (BC)
surface course was laid. Premature failures were
observed on this stretch within one year after opening to
traffic with pavement showing signs of distress in the
form of deformation, cracks, potholes, ravelling and
rutting. The forensic investigation was carried out to
study the effect of sub-surface drainage on the pre-mature
failures and suggest possible remedial measures to prevent
subsequent failures.
OBJECTIVES
The purposes of this investigation are as follows:
(i) To identify the causes of the premature problems
of the national highway pavement section.
(ii) Compare the computed pavement performance
based on laboratory studies with the field
performance values and validation of results.
(iii) To make suggestions for rectification of the
failure and for the improvement of the pavement
section.
1.1 Failure Investigation
To reduce the probability of recurring premature pavement
failures, the causes of problems need to be identified and
the lessons learnt incorporated into future project designs.
Investigations of pavement failures are hence critical, as
the information gained can be used to identify the
underlying cause of the problem and develop an optimal
rehabilitation strategy. In conducting investigation, a
thorough review and analysis of existing construction
records and tests was required. Field tests, such as, BBD,
Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP), coring, and laboratory
testing were also conducted, to validate/confirm the initial
hypothesis.
1.1.1 Pavement Composition
A typical pavement cross section of the failed pavement
section is as shown in Fig. 1. The composition of the
pavement is as follows:
a) Subgrade-500 mm (Min CBR value 10 %)
b) GSB-300 mm in two layers (0-10% passing 75
micron sieve; LL < 25 %; PI < 6 %)
c) Wet Mix Macadam- 250 mm in two layers
d) Bituminous Macadam-75 mm
e) Dense Bituminous Macadam-110 mm in two layers
f) Bituminous Concrete-50 mm
1.1.2 Observations of the Failures
Extensive deformation and cracking of the pavement
surface was observed near pavement edge along median
portion. Potholes and ravelling, interconnected cracks and
rutting were observed along wheel path. It was observed
that water had entered the pavement layers through the
wide cracks and resulted in further rapid deterioration of
the dense bituminous macadam surface. Fig. 2 to 7 show
different types of pre-mature failures observed on the
pavement section.
Fig. 1. Typical Pavement Cross- Section of National Highway Failed
Section
FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY 155
PAVEMENT DUE TO POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
Fig. 3(a). Ravelling at Few Locations
Fig. 2(b). Longitudinal Cracks Along Median
Fig. 2(a). Wide Cracks Towards Median
Fig. 3(b). Ravelling on DBM Layer
Fig. 4(a). Hair Line Cracks on DBM Layer
Fig. 4(b). Extensive Cracks and Ravelling
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
156 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
Fig. 5(a). Fill Soil in the Median Slopes Towards the Depressed
Carriageway
Fig. 5(b). Fill Soil in the Median Slopes Towards the Depressed
Carriageway
Fig. 6(a). Segregation in DBM Mixes
Fig. 6(b). Cracks in DBM Layers
Fig. 7(a). Test Pit Showing Pavement Component Layers
Fig. 7(b). Rutting on DBM Layer
FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY 157
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Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
The ravelling in the bituminous layer may be due to the
weathered rock aggregates that were used in the
construction. It may also be due to the reason that the
binder content was low or due to the fast traffic over the
newly laid DBM layer. This needs further detailed
investigation.
1.1.3 Embankment and Subgrade Soil Test Results
Field investigation and laboratory tests are carried out on
the gradation and other properties of the materials used
in the embankment and subgrade soil used in the
construction. The results are given in Table 1 and
Table 2.
Table 1 Test Results of Fill/Embankment
(Average of Three Samples)
Properties Pavement Edge
Field m/c % 9.2
LL 41
PI 10
Dry Density kg/m
3
1700
% Compaction 87.6
Gradation
Size mm % finer
> 4.75 17.34
> 0.075 < 4.75 41.54
< 0.075 41.12
Table 2 Test Results of Subgrade (Average of three samples)
Properties Pavement Pavement Edge
Failed Location Sound Location
Field M/c % 9.2 5.5
LL 35 33
CBR, % 9.0 11
PI 10 7
Dry density kg/m3 1590 1900
% Compaction 81.96 97.9
Gradation
Size mm % Finer % Finer % Finer
> 10 36.5 53.1
> 4.75 16.0 14.7 17.3
> 0.075 < 4.75 22.9 20.3 25.3
< 0.075 24.7 11.9 57.3
It is found that the dry density values and the degree of
compaction achieved on the embankment just below the
subgrade layer were much lower than the desirable limits.
The density of the fill soil at the failed location was as
low as 1.7 g/cc and the degree of compaction achieved
was only about 88 per cent near the edge of the pavement,
whereas, this should be more than 95 per cent (MORTH
Specifications, 2001). The density of compaction of the
subgrade soil at the failed locations was around
82 per cent which was much lower than the desirable
value of 97 per cent (MORTH Specifications, 2001).
However, at sound locations, the degree of compaction
of the subgrade was over 97 per cent. This indicates the
erratic compaction controls exercised in the fill and
subgrade layers during the construction.
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
158 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
1.1.4 Granular Subbase Layer Test Results
The results of the tests carried out on Granular sub-base
layer material as part of failure investigation of the
pavement is as given in Table 3.
It is observed that the material used in GSB layer
contained excessive fines. The percentage of material
passing through 75 micron sieve varied from 14 per cent
Table 3 Tests Results of GSB layers (Average of three locations)
Properties Pavement Pavement Edge
Failed Location Sound Location
Field M/c % 8.5 6.2 15.3
LL 31 35 40
PI 10 10 8
Gradation of GSB
Sieve Size mm Specified % Finer at % Finer at sound % Finer at pavement
Limits failed locations locations edge and shoulder
> 10 100 100 100 100
> 4.75 55-75 97.3 64.06 100
> 0.075 < 4.75 10-30 56.4 36.04 92.61
< 0.075 0-10 25.3 14.24 75.10
Table 4 Variation of Permeability with Percentage
of Fines
Type of fines Permeability, m/day
Percent passing 75 micron sieve
0 5 10 15
Silica or 3 0.021 0.024 0.009
limestone
Silt 3 0.024 0.0003 0.000 06
Clay 3 0.003 0.000 15 0.000 027
Ref: AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement
Structures, 1986
NOTE- The coefficient of permeability for impervious soils such
as stiff clay, semi-pervious soil such as silty clay
and pervious soil such as sand and gravel are
<1x10-8 m/sec, 1x10-8 to1x10-8 m/sec and
>1 x 10-5 m/ sec respectively as per IRC:SP:42-1994
to as high as 25 per cent. The GSB layer has to serve as
a drainage layer. The permeability and drainage
characteristics of the GSB layer depends on the
percentage passing through 75 micron sieve. The
permeability characteristics of dense graded aggregates
drastically reduces with the increase in the percentage
of fines as can be seen in the table given in Table 4.
The permeability test results are shown in Table 5:
Table 5 Permeability Test Results
Test Test Results
WMM GSB
material Material
Modified Proctor Compaction
Test Results:
Optimum Moisture Content, % 5.9% 6.25%
Maximum Dry Density, kg/m3 2400 2360
Permeability by falling weight 2.47 2.35
method, m/day
It can be inferred that the gradation of the material to be
used in the granular subbase layer as per Ministry's
specification Table 400-1 (per cent passing 75 micron
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PAVEMENT DUE TO POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
sieve upto 10 per cent) has a permeability of 0.03 x 10-3
cm/sec whereas the minimum permeability requirements
of a drainage layer is 0.023 cm/sec. (20 m/day)
(AASHTO, 1986)
The very high percentages of fines in the GSB layers
have prevented efficient drainage. The high value of
plasticity index added to the problem. Soils with higher
plasticity have higher clay content. Higher the percentage
of clay content, lower will be the permeability. If the
percent passing 75 micron sieve is restricted to 3 to 5 per
cent, the permeability increases to 7.6 x 10-3 cm/sec (250
times permeability when compared to MoRTH
Specifications of Table 400-1). When the percent of fines
lesser than 2.0 mm sieve are zero, the permeability
increases to 12 x 10-3 cm/sec (400 times permeability
when compared to MoRTH specifications of
Table 400-1)
During the investigation the percent of fines in the drainage
layer was found to vary from 14 per cent to as high as 75
per cent towards the pavement edge and shoulders,
indicating poor drainage characteristics of the granular
sub-base layer, particularly towards the shoulders This
has prevented effective drainage of water to the drains.
This has also resulted in the rising of water level entering
the pavement layers to rise through the WBM and BM
layers. The field moisture content of the layer used at
the pavement edge is as high as 15.3 per cent. It is seen
that the gradation of material used at sound location is
better than at failed location.
1.1.5 Bituminous Macadam Layer Test Results
The samples of the Bituminous Macadam mix taken from
test pits at failed and sound locations during the field
investigations were tested. The results of bitumen content
and aggregate gradation and mix properties of BM layer
are as given in Table 6.
Table 6 Test Results of Bituminous Macadam
Layer (Average of three samples)
Properties of Test pits from Standard
BM layer Failed Sound values as per
Location Location MoRTH
Specifications
Bitumen
Content % 2.83 4.14 3.3-3.5
AIV % 17.67 Max 30%
Bulk Density,
kg/m3 2380 2440
VMA, % 13 11
Gradation
Sieve Size mm % Finer % Finer
26.5 97.47 100 100
19 89.47 79.43 90-100
13.2 74.27 73.86 26-88
4.75 41.33 48.29 16-36
2.36 35.07 38.71 4-19
0.3 16.4 17.14 2-10
0.075 7.47 6.31 0-8
However, some core samples could not be taken as the
BM specimen samples crumbled while extraction, due to
stripping and consequent loss in strength of BM layers,
as can be seen in Fig. 8. Substantial stripping of the
Fig. 8. Core Samples of BM
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
160 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
bitumen was observed in the BM layer. The percentage
of bitumen in the BM layer is higher than the specified
limits of 3.3 and 3.5 per cent. Higher bitumen was used
as the mix was harsh with more percentage of fine
material passing 2.36 mm sieve viz., about 35 to 38 per
cent when compared to the desirable percentage in the
range of 4-19 per cent. This indicates inconsistent values
of bitumen content and poor gradation in the BM layer
and poor implementation of quality control during
construction.
1.1.6 Dense Bituminous Macadam Layer Test
Results
The average bitumen content extracted from the core
samples of DBM first layer was 3.62 per cent, whereas
the bitumen content required as per the mix design was
4.5 per cent. The binder content in the second layer of
DBM was 3.08 per cent at the failed location.
Table 7 shows the gradation of the dense bituminous
macadam layer at the failed location as well as sound
location.
Table 7 Test Results of Dense Bituminous Macadam Layer
Properties Pavement Standard Values as per
Failed Location Sound Location MoRTH
Bitumen Content % 3.62 Min 4.5%
Bulk Density, kg/m3 2390 2470
Effective bitumen content, % 4.18 4.5
Bulk sp. Gravity of aggregates 2.695 2.745
Air voids, % 3.98 4.5
Gradation
Sieve Size mm Limits % Finer % Finer
45 100 100 100 100
37.5 100 100 100 100
26.5 90-100 100 100 90-100
19 71-95 100 94.67 71-95
13.2 56-80 86.27 74.4 56-80
9.5 - 71.07 61.6 -
4.75 38-54 56.53 44 38-54
2.36 28-42 50.4 34.8 28-42
1.18 - 37.6 25.47 -
0.6 - 31.33 19.47 -
0.3 7-21 26.13 14.4 7-21
0.15 - 20.93 9.47 -
0.075 2-8 18.8 4.53 2-8
Lower values of bitumen content and higher proportion
of fines in the aggregate mix of DBM layer was noticed
at the failure locations. This also indicates inconsistent
quality control measures in the DBM layer during
construction.
FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY 161
PAVEMENT DUE TO POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
Table 8 Classified Daily Traffic Volume
Day Cars, Buses Trucks, LCV, Two Animal Drawn Cycles Tractor
jeeps, vans Multi-axle wheelers vehicles
1 1369 646 2785 1190 38 758 523
2 1610 605 3034 1447 51 1025 556
3 1439 618 3131 1359 106 1150 569
4 1398 618 3182 1316 100 1175 484
5 1401 582 3082 1312 95 1216 580
6 1354 638 3165 1233 101 1391 560
7 1438 607 3058 1484 165 1321 534
Total 10009 4314 21437 9341 656 8036 3806
AADT 1430 616 3062 1334 94 1148 544
Table 9 Test Results of Benkelman Beam Deflection Study
Sl No. Chainage MSA Characteristic Benkelman beam Required equivalent of BM
Rebound Deflection, mm overlay, mm
Outer lane Inner lane Outer lane Inner lane
LWP RWP LWP RWP LWP RWP LWP RWP
1 370.4-371.3 52 0.993 2.109 0.853 0.915 100 205 80 90
2 371.42 - 372.3 52 1.520 0.949 1.212 0.742 160 90 130 60
3 372.4 - 373.3 52 1.185 1.090 0.921 0.762 125 110 90 60
4 373.4 - 374.4 52 0.990 1.121 1.080 0.714 100 110 110 80
2 TRAFFIC DETAILS
The details of the daily traffic along the section are given
in Table 8.
2.1 Benkelman Beam Deflection Studies
Benkelman beam deflection studies were carried out as
per IRC:81-1997. The results of the Benkelman beam
deflection studies are given in Table 9.
The thickness of overlay required varies from 50 to 140
mm. Therefore, an additional overlay thickness
requirement of 75 to 80 mm dense bituminous macadam/
bituminous concrete overlay is indicated over the existing
DBM layer depending on the location. But, if the overlay
or next layer is directly laid over failed stretches, even
this overlay will fail pre-maturely.
2.2 Observations during Test Pit Studies
a) The subgrade CBR of the soil was found to be
more than 10 per cent and varied in the range
12.4 per cent to 21 per cent.
b) The CBR value of the GSB layer was found to be
in the range 36 to 44.5 per cent.
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
162 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
c) Substantial stripping of the bituminous macadam
layer was observed.
d) No clear indication of the crack width with varying
depth was observed in the dense bituminous
macadam layer.
e) The field moisture content in the wet mix macadam
layer was found to be high. The percentage of fines
(finer than 75 micron) was high even in the wet
mix macadam layer and this has resulted in poor
drainage.
f) The granular sub-base layer consisted of only
moorum soil. The soil used in the GSB layer had
high percent of fines passing 75 micron sieve and
also high plasticity index. This is the primary cause
for poor drainage.
g) The field moisture content of the GSB layer was
above 10 per cent, which was due to poor drainage
characteristics of the GSB layer.
h) The soil used in the sub-base layer and the subgrade
layer appeared to have similar properties.
i) The field moisture content of the subgrade is above
the optimum moisture content.
2.3 Summary of the Observations on Various
Tests Results
a) The field density value in the fill/embankment
portion of the road stretch was 1.7 g/cc, which is
low. This corresponds to 88 per cent of the
maximum dry density, resulting in settlement of till
during heavy rains and consequent damages to
pavement layers
b) The field density values on the subgrade layer at
the locations where cracks were observed was
found to be 1.59 g/cc. This corresponds to 82 per
cent of maximum dry density. This also results in
settlement of subgrade and failure of pavement
layers. However, the field density values were
higher at locations which are not cracked/failed.
c) The granular sub-base layer has excessive fines,
ranging from 14 to 25 per cent. The proportion of
fines in the GSB layer at shoulder portion was much
higher. The plasticity index value was also found
to be high, ranging from 8 to 10 per cent. This has
resulted in poor drainage characteristics of the GSB
layer.
d) The binder content in the bituminous macadam layer
was found to be inconsistent. Due to ingress of
water, stripping of the aggregates was found in the
layer materials. The core samples could not be taken
out and the samples crumbled.
e) The binder content in the dense bituminous
macadam layer was found to be 3 to 3.62 per cent
which was lower than the specified values.
Segregation of aggregates during construction was
observed.
f) The median along the embankment portion was
found to be sloping filled with uncompacted soil.
Due to lack of lateral confinement, wide cracks
were observed all along the central median.
g) The results of the Benkelman beam deflection
studies indicate the structural inadequacy and the
need for a strengthening layer, after removal and
reconstruction of failed portions in large patches.
2.4 Primary Causes of Premature Pavement
Failure
a) Grossly inadequate compaction of soil in the fill
and subgrade at the failed locations, resulting in
settlement and yielding of pavement layers on failed
locations
b) High proportion of fines and PI value in GSB layer,
particularly very high proportion of fines and PI
values in the portion of GSB layer towards the
pavement edge and shoulders. This has resulted in
GSB layer to be totally ineffective as a drainage
layer, particularly at locations where premature
failure of the DBM layer occurred. There was no
possibility for the water to drain out of the pavement
layers.
c) Porous/open textured locations on the top of the
DBM layer at several locations due to segregation
of mix that has occurred during various stages of
construction. This has resulted entry of rain water
from the surface also.
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Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
d) The water which entered into the pavement layers
during rains from (a) loose soil fill in the median (b)
shoulders and (c) pervious surface at some
locations of the DBM layer, could not drain out
through the impervious GSB layer and thus the
entrapped water level increased within the
pavement, saturating the WMM and BM layers.
Consequently, the BM layer and part of DBM
layers got deteriorated and failed as a result of
stripping and weakening of the bituminous mix.
2.5 Other Contributing Factors for Pavement
Failure
a) Inconsistent quantity of binder in the bituminous
macadam layer and poor gradation of materials
b) Low quantity of binder in the dense bituminous
macadam layer and gradation of aggregates not
fulfilling the specifications
c) Inadequate compaction and poor quality of materials
used in the median
d) Permitting heavy commercial vehicles to use the
partly completed carriageway over the DBM layer.
The DBM layer is a binder course and traffic should
not have been allowed on this layer before the
construction of the wearing course.
3 COMPUTED PAVEMENT PERFORMANCE
BASED ON DCP FIELD DATA
The effect of inadequate sub-surface drainage on
pavement performance has been quantified by using the
Dynamic Cone Penetrometer data of failure section to
calculate the resilient modulus of the different layers and
then using these material layer properties as input in
MICHPAVE program the maximum tensile strain in
asphalt layer and compressive vertical strain at top of
subgrade are calculated and these values are compared
with the laid down limits, hence predicting the performance
of pavement in terms of cracking and rutting. These
predicted pavement distresses are then compared with
the field performance values for validation of results
3.1 Calculation of Resilient Modulus from DCP
data
On the failed pavement stretch a total of 28 test pits were
dug at known chainages where DCP test has been
carried. This DCP data is analysed and resilient modulus
(MR) is calculated using PR-MR Relationship (Chen et
al., 2005): MR = 537.8 X PR
0.664
where, PR (Penetration
Rate) is in mm/blow and MR is in MPa. The value of
CBR is calculated by TRL relationship (1993):
CBR = 302 X PR
1.057
.The results of calculated resilient
modulus of various layers of pavement are as shown in
Fig. 9. It is to be mentioned that the above empirical
relation is valid only for the range of values that were
considered in the model development and are not the
actual values of resilient moduli values. Repeated load
triaxial tests are to be conducted to get the resilient moduli
values in the laboratory. However, the laboratory moduli
values are dependent on the specimen size, aggregate
size, confining pressure, load, frequency, rest period, etc.
The traffic was allowed to ply for a period of four months
before the failure was observed.
3.2 Calculation of Stresses and Strains in
Pavement Layers Using MICHPAVE
The calculated resilient moduli from the DCP data are
used as an input in MICHPAVE (Michigan State
University 2000) (Michigan Flexible Pavement Design
System) computer program, which uses nonlinear finite
element program for analysis of flexible pavements. After
giving the various inputs data the program is run for all
the 28 test locations and stresses and strains in various
pavement component layers were determined.
Fig. 9. Resilient Modulus Variations at Different Pit Locations
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
164 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
Cracking occurs when the tensile (radial) strain in the
asphalt layer exceeds the allowable limit of 538 micro-
strains under 106 load applications (Shell, 1978). A graph
showing the calculated radial tensile strains along with
the laid down permissible limit, and cracking observed at
various pit locations is shown in Fig. 10
Rutting occurs when the compressive (vertical) strain at
the top of subgrade exceeds the permissible limit of 885
micro-strains under 106 load applications (Shell, 1978).
A graph showing the calculated vertical compressive
strains along with the laid down permissible limit, and
rutting observed at various pit locations is shown in
Fig. 11
locations and it is seen in the field that cracking has
occurred in field at these locations of the failed stretch
(Fig. 10) in the intensity that is proportional to the
calculated tensile strains using MICHPAVE. When the
observed cracking in field is plotted against calculated
radial tensile strain, we get an R
2
of 0.83 as shown in
Fig. 12.
The values of compressive strains at top of subgrade
exceed the permissible compressive strain limit at 16 of
the 28 pit locations and it is seen in the field that rutting
has occurred in field at these locations of the failed stretch
(Fig. 13.) in the intensity that is proportional to the
calculated compressive strains using MICHPAVE.
3.3 Validation of MICHPAVE Results
The material properties considered in the analysis are as
follows:
a) Bituminous layer - 1377 MPa
b) Wet Mix Macadam -864 MPa
c) Granular sub-base- 195 MPa
d) Subgrade soil - 93 MPa
The values of calculated tensile strains in asphalt layer
exceed the permissible tensile strain limit at all the 28 pit
Hence, from the plot of observed field cracking vs
calculated radial tensile strain as shown in Fig. 12., and
observed field rutting vs calculated vertical compressive
strain in Fig. 13, it is inferred that the results of
MICHPAVE are validated.
4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVE-
MENT OF PAVEMENT PERFORMANCE
It is recommended that the following measures be taken
to improve the sub-surface drainage of the pavement
section at the edge in order to improve the performance
of the pavement:
Fig. 10. Radial Tensile Strain Calculated and Cracking Observed at
Different Pit Locations on Failed Stretch
Fig. 12. Cracking Observed vs Radial Tensile Strain
Fig. 13. Rutting Observed vs Vertical Compressive Strain
Fig. 11. Vertical Compressive Strain Calculated and Rutting
Observed at Different Pit Locations on Failed Stretch
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Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
a) Construction of longitudinal aggregate drains by
digging trenches at the pavement edge on the
shoulder portion with a minimum width of 500 mm
at the bottom as shown in Fig. 14. The aggregate
drain should fulfill the requirements of drainage as
given in Table 10 (Type A grading of Table 300-4
of MORTH Specifications for Road and Bridge
Works).
b) Transverse aggregate drains (shoulder drains)
of width 500 mm and depth 500 mm connecting
the longitudinal aggregate drains as shown in
Fig.14, to be provided at 10 m intervals on the
straight portion and at 5 m intervals at the curve
portion.
Table 10 Grading Requirements for Aggregate
Drains (MORTH Specifications, 2001)
Sieve Size, mm Percent Passing by Weight
63 -
37.5 100
19 -
9.5 45-100
3.35 25-80
600 micron 8-45
150 micron 5-10
75 micron < 5
c) In the straight portion, where, both the carriageways
are at the same level, longitudinal aggregate drains
of width 500 mm and required depth upto the top
of the subgrade level to be installed by excavating
trenches in the median (Fig. 15, along the kerb and
filled with the aggregates as per the above table
specifications upto the top of the median fill to
prevent water from the fill to enter into the
Fig. 14. Construction of Longitudinal and Transverse Aggregate
Drains at Pavement Edge
Fig. 15. Construction of Longitudinal Aggregate Drain in the
Median
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, July-September 2010
166 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON
pavement layers. Alternatively, a cut-off may be
constructed along the kerb upto the GSB layer
which could also serve as a retaining wall of the
median fill. Retaining walls with provision for drains
are to be constructed to prevent shear failure. The
drains should have weep holes at the bottom level
of the sub-base layer to facilitate internal drainage.
d) The cracked areas of the DBM surface (having
wide, medium and fine cracks) should be marked
into large rectangular areas. The cracked DBM
layer/or both layers of DBM should be milled and
removed and patched up and compacted well using
DBM mix, before the overlay is constructed.
e) The entire road stretch may be divided into two
sets of sub-stretches (A) the stretch, where, the
failures and cracking has been extensive and (B)
stretches where only longitudinal cracks and some
fine cracks have developed in less than 10 per cent
of paved area. The damaged portion is to be marked
and cut to the depth to which the cracks have
propagated, loose material to be removed and
cleaned using compressed air and later, tack coat
to be applied both to the sides and bottom of the
cut portion and patched with pre-mixed material
with DBM gradation and compacted to the required
density and profile using suitable rollers. After
patching, it is suggested that:
1. Sub-stretches of category A may be overlaid
with (i) 50 mm thick DBM layer and (ii) 50
mm thick BC layer using 2 per cent by weight
of lime as a filler and SBS polymer modified
bituminous binder using good quality SBS
polymer modified binder from the refinery.
2. Sub-stretches of category 'B' may be overlaid
with 50 mm thick BC layer as above.
5 CONCLUSIONS
a) The forensic investigations of the pre-mature failure
of the highway pavement helped the researchers
to identify the root cause of the problem, which
was poor sub-surface drainage. There is a need to
revise the specifications for the granular sub-base
layers. The specification should consider the
permeability of the layer as an essential
requirement.
b) The comparison of the computed stressed and
strains in the pavement layers based on the field
data with the observed performance validated the
findings of the investigation.
c) There is a need to study the effect of construction
quality on the performance of all the highway
pavements constructed so far and incorporate the
lessons learnt in the revised guidelines/
specifications for pavement construction.
d) The suggested remedial measures are likely to
retard the rate of deterioration due to good sub-
surface drainage.
e) The lessons learned from this study may be
incorporated in future road project designs.
REFERENCES
1 AASHTO (1986). "Pavement Design Guide."
American Association of State Highway and
Transportation Officials.
2 Chen D.H., Lin D.F., Liau P.H., and Bilyen J.
(2005). "A Correlation Between Dynamic Cone
Penetrometer Values and Pavement Layer Moduli."
Geotech. Test. Journal, 28(1), pp 42-49.
3 IRC:81-1997, Guidelines for Strengthening of
Flexible Road Pavements Using Benkelman Beam
Deflection Technique, First Revision, Indian Roads
Congress, New Delhi.
4 Michigan State University (2000), MICHPAVE
User Manual, Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, Michigan State
University, East Lansing, USA.
5 MORTH Specifications for Road and Bridge Works
(2001). Ministry of Road Transport and Highways,
Government of India, New Delhi.
6 Shell (1978). "Shell Pavement Design Manual -
Asphalt Pavements and Overlays for Road
Traffic." Shell International Petroleum Company
Limited, London, UK.
7 Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) (1993).
"Overseas Road Note 31: A Guide to the Structural
Design of Bitumen-Surfaced Roads in Tropical and
Subtropical Countries." Transport Research
Laboratory, Crowthorne, U.K.
166 VEERARAGAVAN & GROVER ON FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS OF PAVEMENT PRE-MATURE
FAILURE OF A NATIONAL HIGHWAY PAVEMENT DUE TO POOR SUB-SURFACE DRAINAGE