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# CHAPTER 7

ASPHALT PAVEMENTS

207

7.1 Introduction:
Flexible pavements consist of one or more asphalt layers and usually also a
base. Mostly the base is composed of unbound (granular) materials but also
bound bases (obtained by stabilizing the base material with e.g. cement) are
applied. In The Netherlands the asphalt layer(s) plus the (un)bound base are
normally resting on sand, either the natural sand subgrade or a constructed
sand sub-base. Figure 7.1 is an example of a flexible pavement structure for a
motorway.
50 mm porous asphalt wearing course
210 mm stone asphalt concrete,
4 layers: 3 x 50 mm + 1 x 60 mm

## 300 mm unbound base of e.g.

concrete granulate or mix granulate

## sand sub-base or sand subgrade

Figure 7.1: Example of a flexible pavement structure for a heavily loaded
motorway.
industrial yards etc. is based on the calculation of stresses and strains,
occurring within the structure due to the traffic loadings, and the comparison
with the allowable stresses and strains. In this respect the thickness design of
a pavement is essentially the same as for e.g. a concrete beam.
Usually the linear elastic multi-layer theory is used to calculate the occurring
stresses and strains. This however implies that the actual material behavior is
simplified to a great extent because most road building materials dont behave
linear elastic (see chapter 4). Unbound materials behave strongly stress
dependent and asphalt mixes are visco-elastic materials. Nevertheless, the
assumption of linear elastic material behavior is in most cases justified and
that is certainly the case if the occurring stresses and strains in the structure
are rather limited.
Of course the traffic loading has to be known to enable the thickness design
of the pavement structure. Furthermore the elastic modulus of the various
pavement layers must be known as the amount of traffic load spreading
strongly depends on the bending stiffness of the subsequent layers. From
basic applied mechanics it is known that the bending stiffness is related to the
product E.h3, where E is the elastic modulus and h the layer thickness.
208

## A pavement structure is a three-dimensional structure and for that reason also

the Poisson ratio of the various layers is relevant.
Finally one should know whether the subsequent pavement layers are fully
bonded (which implies that the horizontal displacements just above and just
below the interface are equal) or that they can move relatively to each other in
the horizontal direction.
In this chapter it will be explained how the occurring stresses and strains in a
flexible pavement can be calculated. The mathematical backgrounds are
however not discussed as they are rather complicated. Instead use will be
made of available graphs and computer programs.
First the occurring stresses and strains in a half-space will be discussed.
Although Boussinesqs theory already has been explained in the course on
Soil Mechanics, in this course it will be demonstrated how this theory can be
applied in the structural design of earth and gravel roads.
Then the occurring stresses and strains in a two-layer system are discussed.
An asphalt pavement laid directly on top of a sand subgrade (so without a
base) is an example of a two-layer system.
Next attention is paid to three-layer systems and multi-layer systems. The
occurring stresses and strains in this type of structures can be calculated by
means of a computer program that is added to this lecture note.
Finally it is demonstrated how all this information can be used in the thickness
design of an asphalt pavement structure.

7.2

Stresses in a half-space:

When a load, uniformly distributed over a circular contact area (e.g. a truck
wheel load) is placed on a homogeneous soil then normal and shear stresses
occur at any soil element. This is schematically shown in figure 7.2.
Logically the stresses are dependent on the magnitude of the wheel load, the
radius of the circular contact area and the distance to the center of the load.
Boussinesq has developed equations to determine the vertical stress and the
radial stress on a vertical line through the load center (the shear stresses are
zero because of symmetry). These equations are:
z = p ( 1 z3 / {( a2 + z2 )1.5 })
r = ( p/2 ) {( 1 + 2 ) 2 ( 1 + ) z / [( a2 + z2 )1.5 ] + z3 / [( a2 + z3 )1.5 ]}
t = r
rz = zr = 0; rt = tr = 0; zt = tz = 0
where:

p
a
z
r

= contact pressure,
= depth below the surface,
= Poissons ratio.

209

## Figure 7.2: Stresses in a half-space due to a circular load (1).

Figure 7.3 gives in a graphical way the vertical, radial, tangential and shear
stresses as a function of the depth z, the distance to the load center z and
Poissons ratio .
The use of the graphs is illustrated by means of a practical example that deals
with the evaluation of an earth road in a tropical African country. The trucks on
the road transport cacao, trees, cement etc. and in general they are
overloaded: axle loads of 150 kN frequently occur. The number of trucks is
however low, say a few trucks per day. The unpaved road has a top layer of
laterite (a red-colored tropical weathered material) and for reason of simplicity
it is assumed that this may be considered as a half-space. The question now
is whether damage will occur on this road, while it is known that the cohesion
and the angle of internal friction of the applied laterite have the following
values.

Dry season
Wet season

Cohesion c [kPa]
600
200

33
16.5

210

## Figure 7.3: Stresses in a half-space due to a circular load (1).

Assume that wide base tyres are mounted on all the truck axles; this means
that at either side of any axle there is one tyre with a load of 75 kN. It is further
assumed that the tyre pressure in all cases is 850 kPa. As stated earlier, as a
first approximation the contact pressure between the tyre and the road
surface can be taken equal to the tyre pressure. This implies that p = 850 kPa.
The radius a of the circular contact area then follows from:
a = ( 75 / [ 850 x ] ) = 0.168 m
The Poissons ratio is taken as 0.5.

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In this specific example only the stresses in the load center (r = 0) are taken
into account.
It follows from figure 7.3 that the occurring deviatoric stress dev is greatest at
a depth of 0.168 m (z = a):
z = 0.6 x p = 510 kPa, r = t = 0.1 x p = 85 kPa, dev = z - t = 425 kPa
The Mohrs circle of occurring stresses now can be drawn, see figure 7.4. This
figure learns that in the dry season the stress circle remains very much below
Coulombs failure envelope. To a smaller extent this is also valid for the (most
critical) wet season. The conclusion from this analysis is that the laterite road
is strong enough to carry the limited number of 150 kN axle loads.
But then another transport-firm starts to use the road and that firm places
such a great amount of products on its trucks that it results in extreme heavy
axle loads of 225 kN. In such a case also the tyre pressure must increase, say
to 1275 kPa. So both the axle load and the tyre pressure increase with a
factor of 1.5. This means that the radius of the contact area remains the
same: a = 0.168 m. The occurring stresses at the depth z = 0.168 m thus also
increase with a factor of 1.5. Figure 7.4 shows that the Mohrs circle for these
occurring stresses just touches the Coulombs failure envelope for the wet
season. This means that the road immediately fails (shear failure) due to the
passage of only one such heavily overloaded truck in the wet season!
cirkels van Mohr en faalomhullenden
1200

schuifspanning [kPa]

1000

800

600

## cirkel van Mohr 150 kN as

cirkel van Mohr 225 kN as
400

## faalomhullende droge seizoen

200

0
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

1800

2000

-200

spanning [kPa]

Figure 7.4: Mohrs circles and Coulombs failure envelopes for the laterite
In The Netherlands earth and gravel roads form only a very small part of the
road network. However, still today the great majority of the world road network
(around 70%) consists of earth and gravel roads!

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## In this course emphasis is however laid to flexible pavement structures that

are relevant for The Netherlands. As already mentioned these structures
nearly always consist of asphalt layers and a base on top of sand (sub-base
or subgrade). In some cases a base is however not applied and the asphalt
layers are directly laid on the subgrade. In such a case a two-layer system is
present and in the next paragraph it is discussed how the occurring stresses

7.3

## Stresses in a two-layer system:

Burmister was the first person that developed mathematical solutions for the
calculation of the stresses due to traffic loadings in a two-layer system. These
mathematical solutions are also transformed into graphs and the most
important ones are presented in the figures 7.5, 7.6 en 7.7. Figure 7.5 enables
the determination of the radial stress at the bottom of the top-layer in the load
center. The vertical stress at the top of the subgrade in the load centre can be
determined with figure 7.6. Finally figure 7.7 allows the determination of the
vertical displacement (deflection) at the pavement surface in the load center.
It is important to realize that the magnitude of the occurring traffic load
stresses is dependent on the magnitude and the geometry of the load, the
ratio of the thickness of the top-layer and the radius of the circular contact
area, and the ratio of the elastic modulus values of the top-layer and the
When using the graphs it should be realized that they are all valid for a
Poissons ratio of 0.5 for both layers and that full bond between the top-layer
and the subgrade has been assumed.
The use of the graphs is illustrated with an example for a motorway pavement
structure that consists of 300 mm asphalt (h) directly laid on the sand
subgrade. The elastic modulus E1 of the asphalt amounts 5000 MPa and the
elastic modulus E2 of the sand subgrade is 100 MPa. The pavement structure
is subjected to wheel loadings of 50 kN and the tyre pressure (contact
pressure) is 700 kPa. We want to know the radial stress at the bottom of the
asphalt top-layer in the load center as well as the vertical stress at the top of
It can be calculated from the magnitude of the wheel load and the contact
pressure that the radius of the circular contact area a = 150 mm.
So we find:
E1 / E2 = 50, h / a = 2, p = 700 kPa.
To determine the radial stress at the bottom of the asphalt the bottom graph of
figure 7.5 is the easiest one to use. It is read from this graph:
-r / p = 1

213

Figure 7.5: Graphs for determination of the radial stress in the load center at
the bottom of the top-layer of a two-layer system (1).

214

Figure 7.6: Graph for determination of the vertical stress in the load center at
the top of the bottom layer of a two-layer system (1).

## Figure 7.7: Graph for determination of the vertical displacement (deflection) in

the load center at the surface of a two-layer system (1).

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The minus sign means that the radial stress is a flexural tensile stress
because the contact pressure is a compressive stress. In the remaining part
of this calculation example tensile stresses are however given a positive sign
and compressive stresses a negative sign, which results in:
r = -1 x p = -1 x -700 = 700 kPa
It appears from figure 7.6 that:
z / p = 0.043
In this case z and p have the same sign and that means that z is a
z = 0.043 x p = 0.043 x -700 = -30 kPa
In chapter 4 it has been explained that knowledge about the fatigue behavior
of asphalt is important because a (truck) wheel load does not pass only one
time over the pavement but millions of times. It was also discussed in chapter
4 that usually the occurring strain instead of the stress is used as input in the
asphalt fatigue relationship. This implies that the occurring strain at the bottom
of the asphalt layer must be known for the determination of the allowable
number of load repetitions until fatigue damage (cracking) occurs.
This strain cannot be calculated with the equation = /E because at the
bottom of the asphalt layer there is not a one-dimensional but a threedimensional stress situation.
In the load centre at the bottom of the asphalt layer there is not only a radial
stress r but also a tangential stress t (see also figure 7.2). The vertical line
through the load center is the axis of symmetry, therefore is valid t = r and
the shear stresses are zero.
Furthermore there is a vertical stress at the bottom of the asphalt layer.
Because of the required balance of vertical stresses the vertical stress at the
bottom of the asphalt layer is equal to the vertical stress at the top of the
At the bottom of the asphalt layer in the load center thus the following
stresses are present:
r = t = 700 kPa, z = -30 kPa
The radial strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer can now be calculated with
the equation:
r = [r - t - z] / E1 = [0.7 0.5 x 0.7 0.5 x (-0.03)] / 5000 = 7.3 x 10-5
Be aware of the fact that the stresses were calculated in kPa while the elastic
modulus E1 of the asphalt was given in MPa. For the calculation of the asphalt
strain all values are given in MPa.

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To enable the calculation of the vertical strain z at the top of the subgrade the
radial stress r and the tangential stress t at that location must be known.
These stresses are however absolutely not equal to r and t at the bottom of
the asphalt layer.
Another question is whether it is also possible to calculate the stresses z, r
and t at the surface of the top-layer in the load center. This is not possible
through the given graphs but reasonable estimates can nevertheless be
made. Because of the balance of vertical stresses, the vertical stress at the
surface of the top-layer must be equal to the contact pressure, so in that point
is valid:
z = -700 kPa.
It is furthermore known that the asphalt top-layer behaves as a bending beam
under the wheel loading and that its neutral line will be somewhat below the
middle of the top-layer. When the ratio E1 / E2 increases the neutral line
moves into the direction of the middle of the top-layer. The horizontal stresses
at the top of the layer therefore will be about equal to the horizontal stresses
at the bottom of the layer. The sign is however opposite as through the
bending flexural compressive stresses are present in the upper part of the
asphalt layer and flexural tensile stresses in the lower part. At the surface of
the top-layer in the load center the stresses are thus:
r = t -700 kPa
Figure 7.8 presents the radial stresses r in a two-layer system. The figure
makes clear that the top-layer indeed acts as a bending beam: in the case of
a ratio E1 / E2 of 10 and higher the neutral line is about in the middle of the
top-layer.

Figure 7.8: Radial stresses in the load center as a function of depth in a twolayer system (1).

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7.4

## Stresses, strains and displacements in multi-layer

systems:

Graphs are also available to determine the occurring stresses, strains and
displacements in three-layer systems. The use of these graphs is however
rather complicated and therefore no attention is given to them. Another
reason to do so is that the analyses can also be done fast and easy with one
of the available linear-elastic multi-layer computer programs. In this paragraph
therefore the computer program WESLEA is discussed that is added to these
lecture notes on a CD-ROM. Appendix I gives a short description how the
input for this program has to be prepared and how the output is obtained. The
use of the WESLEA program is further explained here by discussing a small
example problem.
The example problem concerns the calculation, for the three-layer system
depicted in figure 7.9, of the stresses and strains at the bottom of the asphalt
layer and at the top of the subgrade, in both cases in the load centre. The
required input parameters are all given in figure 7.9. Full bond between the
various layers is assumed. The location at the bottom of the asphalt layer is
referred to as position 1 and the location at the top of the subgrade as
position 2.
After having prepared the input as explained in Appendix I and having done
the calculation, the results given in table 7.1 are obtained.
Remark! The sign convention used in WESLEA is different from the one used
until now. WESLEA uses the so-called soil mechanics convention; in this
convention a tensile stress or tensile strain gets the sign, while a
compressive stress or compressive strain gets the + sign.

tyre pressure 700 kPa
200 mm asphalt, E = 5000 MPa, = 0.35

r, r

z, z

## subgrade (sand), E = 150 MPa, = 0.35

Figure 7.9: Input for the calculation example with WESLEA.

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## Normal stress [kPa]

Normal strain [m/m]
Displacement [m]

## Normal stress [kPa]

Normal strain [m/m]
Displacement [m]

Position 1
X
-798.02
-112.02

Y
-798.02
-112.02

Z
118.31
135.38
240.54

Position 2
X
-1.96
-81.64

Y
-1.96
-81.64

Z
31.35
218.14
185.07

Table 7.1: The stresses and strains calculated with WESLEA in the two
positions indicated in figure 7.9.
In figure 7.9 the stress and the strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer are
indicated as r and r respectively, while WESLEA gives the stresses in
Cartesian coordinates. However, for an axial symmetric load (such as the one
in this example) in the vertical line through the load center is valid: r = t = x
= y.
So it is very easy to calculate the occurring stresses and strains in any point
of a certain asphalt pavement structure by means of the WESLEA program.
The obtained output allows a pavement life analysis that is discussed in the
following paragraph.

7.5

## Pavement life calculation:

7.5.1 Introduction:
In this paragraph the principles of the structural design of an asphalt
pavement and the determination of its life are discussed. Prior to that however
attention is paid to the various types of damage that may occur on asphalt
pavements and that in principle should be taken into account in the structural
design. It will appear from the overview of damage types that in this course
only a limited number of damage types is addressed and that only a limited
number of design criteria is taken into account.
7.5.2 Damage types on asphalt roads and design criteria to be used:
When determining the required thickness of an asphalt pavement structure
two design criteria should be taken into account, i.e. cracking and permanent
deformation. It already has been explained that horizontal tensile stresses and
horizontal tensile strains occur at the bottom of an asphalt layer, laid directly
on the subgrade or on an unbound base, due to bending of the structure
stresses/strains may lead to fatigue cracking. This fatigue cracking starts at
the bottom of the asphalt layer, gradually propagates upward and finally
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appears at the road surface as so-called alligator cracking in the wheel tracks.
Figure 7.10 shows an example of this particular type of cracking. An asphalt
pavement structure must be designed in such a way that this type of serious
damage does not occur too early.

## Figure 7.10: Example of alligator cracking on an asphalt pavement.

Besides of alligator cracking in the wheel tracks also frequently longitudinal
cracks are observed. These longitudinal cracks mostly penetrate to a depth of
not more than about 50 mm. The cause and propagation of this type of
cracking is not yet fully understood. It is however clear that they occur due to
the complex distribution of stresses in the contact area between the tyre and
the road surface. In the contact area not only vertical stresses occur but also
horizontal shear stresses. In regular asphalt pavement design calculations
these shear stresses are however not taken into account (in the proceeding
examples also a uniform vertical contact pressure over a circular contact area
was assumed) and by consequence the development of this surface cracking
cannot be analyzed. The propagation of these surface cracks is most
probably the result of traffic and climatic influences. To a great extent surface
cracking can be prevented by a correct asphalt mix composition. This course

220

is not the right place to extensively discuss the occurrence and propagation of
surface cracking; reference is made to the course CT4860 Structural design
of pavements. One should however realize that surface cracking is a major
reason for maintenance of asphalt wearing courses.
Asphalt layers are not only applied on an unbound base but also frequently on
a cement-bound base. For instance, on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol the
pavement structure on a runway consists of 200 mm polymer-modified
asphalt layers on 600 mm lean concrete base. Although a linear elastic multilayer calculation reveals that no tensile stresses or tensile strains occur at the
bottom of the asphalt layer, there are however cracks present in the asphalt.
The causes of these cracks are the following.
Each cement-bound material will try to shrink due to the hardening process
and due to a decrease of temperature. The shrinkage is however to a great
extent obstructed because of the friction with the underlying layer and this
results in tensile stresses in the cement-bound material. If these tensile
stresses become too great (shrinkage) cracks occur. This type of cracking is
thus strongly dependent on the climatic conditions and on the properties of
the cement-bound material. The shrinkage cracks remain not exclusively
within the cement-bound base but they want to propagate into the bonded
asphalt layers. This mechanism is schematically shown in figure 7.11a.
The material properties of the cement-bound base exhibit quite some variation
and as a result also the distance between the (transverse) cracks varies. The
greater the strength of the cement-bound base material, the greater both the
crack distance and the crack width and the movements around the crack due
to temperature variations. So the greater the crack distance the greater the
movements at the crack and the more heavily loaded the bonded asphalt.

asphalt
originally
closed crack
opens
because of
shrinkage

cement-bound
base

## a: Shrinkage in the cement-bound

base results in tensile stresses
in the bonded asphalt layer

result in great shear stresses
in the asphalt layer

Figure 7.11: Propagation of cracks from the cement-bound base into the
bonded asphalt layer.
The effects of the temperature movements can be reduced by regulation of
the crack distance in the cement-bound base. On Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
this has been done by creating notches, to a depth of 1/3 of the base
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thickness, at regular distances (about 7 m). Through these notches the base
weakens to such an extent that the shrinkage cracks will occur there. The
limited crack distance results in smaller movements around the crack and as
a result the asphalt layer is less heavily loaded. The principle of a notch is
similar to that of a contraction joint in plain concrete pavements (see chapter
5).
But even a narrow crack always is a weak point in the pavement structure. At
such a crack bending moments cannot be transmitted, load transfer is only
possible through cross-forces. As indicated in figure 7.11b, during the
passage of a wheel load not only substantial shear stresses occur in the
asphalt layer above the crack but also an extra large bending moment, and as
a result the crack wants to propagate from the base into the asphalt layer. The
asphalt layer also has to be designed to resist this type of cracking. This
subject is however outside the scope of this course; reference is made to the
course CT4860 Structural design of pavements.
Permanent deformation of the various pavement layers due to the repeated
traffic loadings is another important type of damage that should be taken into
account in the structural pavement design. Such permanent deformations
manifest themselves as rutting in the wheel tracks. Figure 7.12 is an example
of this type of damage.

## Figure 7.12: Example of rutting on an asphalt pavement.

The rutting observed at the road surface results from visco-plastic
deformations of the asphalt layers and from plastic deformations of the

222

## unbound base, sub-base and subgrade. In chapter 4 these permanent

It is important to design the asphalt pavement structure in such a way that in
all the layers the occurring stress levels remain sufficiently low to prevent
these permanent deformations. The various layers also should possess
sufficient resistance against permanent deformation. This is directly related
with the choice of the type of asphalt mix, the type of base and sub-base
material and the compaction. In this course not much attention is given to the
permanent deformation of the asphalt layers and the unbound base and subbase. Reference is made to the courses CT4850 Road building materials
and CT4860 Structural design of pavements.
In this course only some rules of thumb are given and used to limit the
already has been introduced. The meaning of that criterion is that the
permanent deformation in the subgrade remains limited if the vertical elastic
deformation at the top of the subgrade, which is calculated with WESLEA,
remains below a certain value. In chapter 4 it also has been explained how,
according to the Shell method, the permanent deformation in the asphalt
layers can be calculated.
All the above-mentioned implies that in this course only attention is paid to the
structural design of asphalt pavements laid directly on the subgrade or with an
unbound (sub-)base. Furthermore, the determination of the layer thicknesses
is only based on fatigue of the asphalt layer and permanent deformation
within the subgrade. The relevant design parameters are thus the occurring
horizontal strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer and the vertical
compressive strain at the top of the subgrade.
A last important type of damage is raveling that frequently occurs in practice,
especially on porous asphalt (zoac) wearing courses. Raveling is the loss of
aggregate at the road surface, resulting in a raw appearance of it. The
occurring traffic loading, the climate and the properties of the wearing course
asphalt material are the most important factors influencing raveling. Raveling
is one of the most important causes of maintenance on motorways. Also this
type of damage is not further discussed here, reference again is made to the
courses CT4850 Road building materials and CT4860 Structural design of
pavements.
7.5.3 Steps in the structural design of an asphalt pavement:
For the structural design of an asphalt pavement the following steps have to
A traffic forecast is the basis for the determination of the traffic loading. This
traffic forecast should not only describe the growth of the total amount of
traffic but also the share of the truck traffic. In chapter 4, table 4.3 is given
how the traffic class is determined in The Netherlands; this information is
relevant for the structural design of an asphalt pavement.
distribution (see chapter 3, figure 3.3). On the basis of this frequency

223

## distribution the cumulative number of equivalent standard axle loads can be

calculated. The magnitude of the standard axle load is normally taken as 80
or 100 kN. In The Netherlands mostly a standard axle load of 100 kN is used
in the structural design of an asphalt pavement.
The transformation of the axle load frequency distribution into a number of
equivalent standard axle loads is done by means of the load equivalency
equation that already has been discussed in chapter 3, paragraph 3.4. For
reasons of simplicity the exponent m in the equivalency equation is usually
assigned the value of 4.
After having calculated the cumulative number of equivalent standard axle
loads, it must be determined how the axle load is transmitted to the pavement.
Usually dual tyre wheel configurations are taken into account. This means that
there are two tyres at either side of the axle. In such a dual tyre wheel the
center-to-center distance between the two tyres is some 320 mm.
Furthermore a tyre pressure of 700 kPa is normally taken into account.
If one wants to analyze the effects of wide base (super single) tyres (only
one wide tyre at each side of the axle), a tyre pressure of 850 kPa should be
used.
Material data
The strength and stiffness characteristics of the various layers have to be
known to enable a structural design calculation with the WESLEA multi-layer
computer program. At least the following data has to be available:
- the CBR-value of the subgrade,
- the composition of the applied asphalt mixes,
- the representative (most frequently occurring) speed of the trucks,
- the temperature (in The Netherlands an asphalt temperature of 200C is
normally used for the structural design of asphalt pavements).
The rules of thumb given in chapter 4, paragraph 4.2 then allow to reasonably
estimate the E-value of the subgrade as well as the E-value of the unbound
(sub-)base.
The stiffness of the bitumen and next the stiffness of the asphalt mix can be
determined on the basis of the mix composition by mass, the applied type of
in chapter 4, paragraph 4.11.2 enables to determine the asphalt fatigue
relationship as well as the healing factor of the asphalt.
The obtained E-values should always be checked on consistency. For
instance, it is impossible that an asphalt mix has an E-value that is greater
than that of cement concrete, quality B45.
Structural design calculations
The occurring strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer and the vertical
compressive strain at the top of the subgrade can now be calculated by
means of WESLEA.
In the calculations you may assume that all the pavement layers are fully
bonded to each other.
Although the Poissons ratio is dependent on a number of factors, the
following guidelines can be given for it:
- asphalt at moderate temperatures and loading times, sand, nonsaturated clay, unbound sub-base and base materials: 0.35,

224

0.5,
cement-bound base materials: 0.2,
concrete: 0.15.

In the calculations much care must be taken that the correct units are used
because nonsense in = nonsense out.
Also realistic layer thicknesses should be used! The minimum thickness of a
layer is about 2.5 to 3 times the maximum grain size.
Probably a number of calculations, with different layer thicknesses, are
required to obtain the desired pavement life. Adapting the layer thicknesses
has to be done in a systematic way and care must be taken that the stresses
and strains are calculated at the correct positions within the (modified)
pavement structure. It is recalled that WESLEA uses the soil mechanics sign
convention, so the sign means tension and the + sign means compression.
Pavement life
The fatigue life of the asphalt can be determined on the basis of the
calculated strain at the bottom of the asphalt layer. The fatigue life resulting
from the (laboratory) fatigue relationship has to be multiplied with the factors
for healing (see chapter 4, paragraph 4.11.2) and for lateral wander (as stated
earlier, a value of 2.5 is a reasonable assumption for the lateral wander
factor).
The pavement life based on the subgrade criterion is found by inputting the
calculated vertical compressive strain in the subgrade criterion given in
chapter 4, paragraph 4.3. This found pavement life of course should not be
multiplied with the healing factor and the lateral wander factor (you should be
able to explain why this should not be done).

7.6

References:

1.

## Meier, H.; Eisenmann, J.; Koroneos, E.

Forschungsarbeiten aus dem Strassenwesen. Kirschbaum Verlag;

225

APPENDIX I
MANUAL FOR THE PROGRAM WESLEA

226

Introduction:
The WESLEA program has been developed for the American Waterways
Experiment Station (WES) of the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is a linear
elastic multi-layer program that enables the analysis of a pavement structure
consisting of maximum 5 layers (the subgrade counts as one layer). The
number of circular loads is maximum 20. This is a very useful option because
it enables to analyze the effects of complex load systems such as the landing
gears of a Boeing 747 aircraft.
There are two options with respect to the bond between the layers:
a. the subsequent layers are fully bonded to each other (this is the most
commonly used option),
b. the subsequent layers are not bonded to each other, so they can slip
along each other without any friction (this option is only used for very
special cases).
The starting point in the following description of the input and output of the
program is the example given in figure 7.9.
The input:
On the main screen you first click units and then SI.
You have to realize that the WESLEA program has originally been developed
for the American system of units. Your input in SI-units therefore is converted
into American units and then of course some round-off errors occur. Also in
the output you will notice this.
Next you click input and then structure. You input that the number of
layers is 3.
The next step is the input of the properties of the various pavement layers. As
material for layer 1 you chose asphalt and for the elastic modulus you fill in
5000 MPa. As material for the layers 2 and 3 you chose other. The reason
for doing so is that the choice for GB (= granular base) yields a confrontation
with a maximum value for the elastic modulus that is hidden in the program.
This limitation is by-passed through the choice of the material other. Next
you input the values for the elastic modulus of the unbound base and the
subgrade in MPa. Also the values of the Poissons ratio have to be input but
you will observe that the value 0.35 is set as default value.
Next the thickness (in cm!) of the asphalt layer and the base has to be input.
Then you have to input whether the asphalt layer is fully bonded to the base
and whether the base is fully bonded to the subgrade. As stated earlier this is
a very reasonable assumption for most of the cases.
You now click the button ok.
You click again on input and then on loads.
There is the possibility to analyze various load configurations, which are:
a. a single axle with dual tyre wheels,
b. a tandem axle with dual tyre wheels,
c. a triple axle with dual tyre wheels,
d. a single axle with wide base tyre wheels (steer),

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Because we want to simulate the effects of a wide base tyre we click steer.
You may wonder if the combined effect of both wide base tyres (at both sides
of the axle) is now analyzed. This is not the case, only the effects of one
wheel at one side of the axle are analyzed; this is also the case for the other
axle configurations. The reason to do so is that the wheel at the other side of
the axle has hardly any effect on the stresses and strains under the wheel
under consideration.
The program now asks for the number of load repetitions. Here you can
input any number. The program only uses this number of load repetitions if
you want to analyze the standard locations (see next step evaluation). In
the program fatigue relations for the asphalt and the subgrade have been built
in that are based on the greatest occurring horizontal tensile strain in the
asphalt and the greatest occurring vertical compressive strain in the
subgrade. These relations are however not universal applicable. When using
the standard locations the pavement life is calculated on the basis of these
calculated strain values.
Because as a matter of fact we are interested in such a fatigue calculation we
input as number of load repetitions the expected number of repetitions of the
For load (wheel load) you fill in 50 kN and for pressure (tyre pressure) 700
kPa.
You now click the ok button.
Next you click again input and then evaluation. You see a grey screen with
a v on standard locations. You observe that there are two locations. By
means of clicking on next location or previous location you can see which
locations they are. The first location appears to be in the load center at the
bottom of the asphalt layer (z = 19.99 cm) and the second location is also in
the load center at the top of layer 3, the subgrade (z = 49.99 cm). Of course it
is strange that the program yields the depth z = 49.99 cm while the top of the
subgrade is on the depth z = 50 cm, but this is the result of rounding-offs.
Therefore check whether the locations are in the correct layer.
If you remove the v on standard locations you can input your own locations
but the program then does not perform a pavement life calculation.
If you have completed this part of the input you click on ok.
The output:
You have prepared all the required input and now you click on the main
screen first output and then view output. You now see a grey table
containing the stresses, strains and displacements that already have been
given in table 7.1. You also get the pavement life based on fatigue (fatigue
of the asphalt) and rutting (permanent deformation of the subgrade).
However, the program calculates these pavement lifes on the basis of the
greatest horizontal tensile strain and the vertical compressive strain that have
been calculated. So you have to be very careful in interpreting these numbers!
For example, the rutting life is completely irrelevant for position 1, at the
bottom of the asphalt, and the fatigue life is completely irrelevant for position
3, the top of the subgrade.

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The calculated damage factor is the ratio between the applied (the
occurring) and the allowable number of load repetitions.
Finally you can have a look to the fatigue relationship for the asphalt
(fatigue) and the criterion for the allowable permanent deformation in the
subgrade (rutting) by means of the button view transferfunctions. It is
stressed again that these functions are not universal applicable. The relations
that normally used in The Netherlands already have been given in chapter 4.
Final remark:
The WESLEA program generates numerical solutions. The accuracy of the
obtained calculation results depends among other things on the magnitude of
the integration steps. In this calculation process errors may be introduced.
Simple checks are possible to investigate whether these errors have occurred
and whether the program has functioned well. This is however beyond the
scope of this course; reference is made to the course CT4860 Structural
design of pavements. In that course also other programs will be discussed.

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