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Proceedings of Indian Geotechnical Conference

December 22-24,2013, Roorkee



T.Datta, Assistant Professor, C.E.Dept, MSIT, Kolkata -700150. meettufan@yahoo.co.in

T.K.Roy, Assistant Professor (Sr. Scale), BESU, Shibpur, Howrah -711103, tapash2000@hotmail.com
S.K.Roy, Professor, BESU, Shibpur, Howrah -711103, sudip@civil.becs.ac.in

ABSTRACT: Efficient road transportation plays a vital role in the overall development of any nation. Out of the
total road network of India, village and other roads which are called low traffic volume roads consist of 80% share.
So the importance of preserving this type of road network in good condition is of utmost significant issue. However
certain failures in this type of low volume flexible pavement are inevitable due to different causes. One of the
important reasons is the heavy traffic loads for which deformation occurs in the different layers of pavement
resulting various types of distress in the forms of cracks, ruts etc. The sign of these distresses usually appear on the
top surface of the road if the magnitude of deformation exceeds the allowable limits. As a supporting medium, sub
grade soil has a significant role on formation of these deformations. Though the sub grade soil, in particular, the
weak soft sub , contributes a significant portion of the total pavement rutting, yet sub grade does not attract as
much attention as compared to the other layers of pavement e.g. surface course , base course etc. So the effect of
sub grade on rutting of flexible pavement particularly in low volume road is needed to be assessed. In this paper, an
attempt has been made by the authors to investigate the effect of various properties of sub grade on rutting of

INTRODUCTION contribute to distress in the overlying pavement

Rural transport services at all levels in developing structures. In bituminous pavement, this distress
countries play an important role in assisting normally takes the form of cracking and rutting.
agricultural development and enhancing the quality With respect to bituminous concrete pavements,
of life for the rural population. Low Volume Roads the current failure criteria used are the horizontal
serve as one of the key infrastructures which have tensile strain at the bottom of the asphalt concrete
become a matter of growing urgency for layer and the vertical strain at the top of the
consideration of social justice, national integration subgrade. The horizontal strain is used to predict
and economic uplift of the rural areas. So the and control fatigue cracking in the surface layer.
importance of preserving this type of road network Similarly the vertical strain at the top of the
in good condition is widely recognized and subgrade is used to predict and control permanent
therefore performance evaluation of these roads is deformation (rutting) of the pavement structure
an absolute necessity. The Low Volume Roads are caused by shear deformation in the upper subgrade.
generally defined as roads carrying an Average It has been well documented that the subgrade soils
Daily Traffic of less than 400 vehicles per day. A plays a critical role in the initiation and
large number of roads are being constructed in propagation of permanent deformation of
India under several gigantic National projects. pavement structures and directly influences
Among these projects, PMGSY is one which pavement structures. While test methods and
focuses directly on the rural connectivity. failure criteria for predicting fatigue cracking are
The purpose of a pavement is to carry maturing, there has been very little effort placed on
traffic safely, conveniently and economically over the refinement of the subgrade failure criteria. Only
its design life. For structural analysis, sensitivity limited research has been conducted on the
study was conducted to identify the parameters that permanent deformation of subgrade soils. As a
impact the pavement performance most. Under consequence, very little knowledge of permanent
heavy traffic loads, subgrade soils may deform and deformation of subgrade soils has been

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T.Datta, T.K. Roy, & S.K. Roy,

incorporated into the design of asphalt pavements. (CBRs) of 2%, 8% and 10%..Elliott et al. (1998)
Though all pavement layers contribute to established a test protocol for permanent
permanent deformation of the pavement structures, deformation of subgrade soils based on
yet subgrade does not attract as much attention as comprehensive literature review and repeated load
do the asphalt surface and granular base. The last testing on an Arkansas subgrade soil and this
two are manmade products in some sense and their protocol was used to evaluate permanent
properties are relatively well known and have been deformation behavior of subgrade soils. Tarefder et
extensively studied for several decades. As a result al (2008) evaluated the variation in strength and
subgrade becomes a weak point in the pavement stiffness of subgrade on pavement design and
structures. performance. Kumar and Chandra (2011) assessed
the skid resistance of wearing courses using the
REVIEW OF PAST WORKS: British Portable Skid Resistance Tester. Kumar et
Perez and Gallego (2010) analysed the permanent al (2012) evaluated the rutting potential of paving
deformation performance of an unbound granular mix suitable for B.C., Grade-1 for various
material for base layers of low-traffic roads. The gradation limits stipulated by MORTH. Jagadeesh
objective was to examine the applicability of a et al. (2009) investigated the rutting characteristics
non-linear model depending on the number of load of bitumen mixes using bitumen (60/70 and
cycles to predict the development of rutting in 80/100) and modified binders (CRMB-60 and
granular base courses of low-traffic roads. Acikgoz SBS-70) under soaked condition. Reddy et al.
& Rauf (2010) carried out Masters thesis and the (2013) carried out study on rutting characteristics
aim was to identify parameters affecting the of binders and mixes typically used to construct
permanent deformation and to investigate the wearing and surface courses of High Volume
correlation between these parameters and the Roads in India and also developed correlations
permanent deformation. Ramula et al. (2012) between rutting parameters of the binders and the
carried out an investigation to the rutting potential rut depth measured from the mixes.
of low volume roads. The objectives of this study
were to estimate the influence of base course Objectives of the Study:
(WBM grading II and grading III) gradation, sub- From the Literature Review presented above, it is
base course gradation, sub-base and subgrade observed that different investigators have analysed
moisture contents, sub-base and subgrade field the rutting behaviour of granular layers and
densities on the rutting potential of low volume different types of bituminous mixes. Some of the
roads and to develop an appropriate rutting researchers studied the rutting characteristics in
prediction model. Al-Khateeb et al. (2011) High Volume Roads. But very little work has been
developed a two-dimensional finite element model, done in Low Volume Roads and in most of the
using ABAQUS software, in order to investigate cases the effectiveness of the subgrade has been
the impact of static repeated wheel load on rutting ignored. So the aim of this study isto investigate
formation and pavement response. After insuring the influence of the properties of subgrade such as
the model validation, they also studied the effects moisture contents, CBR, field densities on the
of temperature, sub grade properties and traffic rutting potential of low volume roads.
loads on depth and development of the rutting.
Arnold and Werkmeister (2010) carried out Causes of Rutting:
Repeated Load Triaxial Tests on subgrade, subbase Rutting loosely defined as the longitudinal
and base course materials and established a depressions on the wheel paths in asphalt concrete
relationship between permanent strain (rutting) and pavements, stems from the permanent deformation
stress. The validated Arnold and Werkmeister rut in any or all of the pavement layers or the
depth prediction models were then used to subgrade, and is usually caused by the relative
calculate rutting for a range of pavement depths on movement of materials due to traffic loading.
subgrade soils with California bearing ratios Traffic-associated permanent deformation and

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Effect of subgrade on rutting of flexible pavement in low volume roads

rutting in particular, results from a complex A schematic representation of the modes

combination of densification and plastic flow mentioned above is presented in Figure 1.
mechanisms. Rutting could be due to either
permanent deformation of the surface layer
(instability rutting) or to the deformation of the
lower layers (structural rutting). The Asphalt
Institute model (1982) and the Shell model (1978)
are the typical example, which assumes that most
of the rutting is due to permanent deformation
within the subgrade layer. But data from various Figure 1 Rutting mechanisms: Mode 0, 1 and 2
reports, however, indicates that the subgrade respectively [Dawson & Kolisoja 2004]
contribute only parts of the total rutting, and the
surface, base and subbase layers contribute the Analysis on subgrade properties:
major portion of the total rutting (Kennedy et al. To evaluate the effect of subgrade properties on the
1977; Monismith 1994; Gibson et al. 2003; rutting potential of low volume roads, various soil
Tashman et al. 2005). data from different research work has been
collected from the different research publication
Rutting mechanisms: and presented in the following Tables 1 and 2.
According to Dawson & Kolisoja [2004], rutting
can occur due to a number of reasons. Table 1: Compaction properties of subgrade for varying
Fundamentally there are four contributory rut depth[Ramulu et al (2012)].
mechanisms, which can be labelled as Modes 0, 1,
2 and 3, for convenience. Avg. Rut Moisture Field Density
Mode 0 Compaction of granular layers alone A Depth (mm) content (%) (g/cm3)
self-stabilizing mode or rutting usually occurs due
to under-compaction of the granular layer prior to 9.0 4.94 1.631
trafficking. In limited amounts, this mode of 6.5 3.53 1.884
rutting may be beneficial for the pavement, 9.25 5.47 1.849
provided that it stiffens the layer, resulting in a 4.5 2.57 1.891
better load distribution. Ideally, there would be no 10.25 5.86 1.568
deformation at the subgrade surface.
Mode 1 Shear deformation of granular layers 7.5 3.29 1.675
Usually occurs in weaker granular materials. It 8.0 3.76 1.860
appears as a dilative heave adjacent to the wheel 6.0 3.69 1.956
track. This rutting is largely a consequence of 9.5 3.83 1.602
inadequate granular material shear strength in the 6.5 3.18 1.669
aggregate close to the pavement surface. Ideally,
there would be no deformation at the subgrade
Table 2: CBR of subgrade for varying rut depth[Al-
Khateeb et al (2011)].
Mode 2 Shear deformation within the subgrade
with the granular layer following the subgrade
when aggregate quality is better, then the pavement CBR (%) Rut Depth (mm)
as a whole may rut. This is the least desirable of 5 9.2
modes 0, 1 and 2 as it is not readily correctible. 6 6.8
Mode 3 Particle Damage (e.g. attrition or 7 5.7
abrasion, perhaps by studded tyres) can be a 8 4.5
contributor to the same surface manifestation as 9 4.1
seen in Mode 0 rutting, though, of course, the 10 3.9
mechanism is very different.

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T.Datta, T.K. Roy, & S.K. Roy,

decreasing trend in the rut depth with the increase

in the field density values of subgrade. Most of the
Effect of Field Density and Moisture Content observed rut depth values increases with the
For visualizing the effects of compaction decreasing values of field density except only two
characteristics on the depth of rut occurred in the values, where the rut depth increases with increase
flexible pavements, graphical relation have been in field density values. It may be due to some
developed for field density and moisture content of other reasons such as some adverse environmental
subgrade against the rut depth and shown in figures effect or some excessive wheel load. As the
2 and 3 by fitting the best fit curves. vertical compressive strains reduces with the
increase in density of the subgrade material so one
12 would expect lower rut depths at higher density of
the subgrade material.
But the variation of rut depth with subgrade
Rut Depth (mm)

8 moisture content presented in Figure 3 indicates

the opposite trend. The rut depth increases with the
subgrade moisture content. This is due to the fact
4 that, as moisture content increases, the strength of
the soil decreases which in turn results in higher
2 accumulation of vertical compressive strains. So it
0 can be said that subgrade moisture content
1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2.0 significantly affects the rut depth.
Field Density (g/cm3)
Effect of CBR
To understand the effects of strength characteristics
Fig.2 : Variation of Rut Depth with Field Density of subgrade in terms of California Bearing Ratio
(CBR) against the rut depth, a relation have been
developed in between them and shown graphically
14 in the Figure 4.
Rut Depth (mm)


8 8
Rut Depth (mm)

6 6
2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 0
Moisture Content (%) 4 6 8 10 12
CBR (%)
Fig.3 : Variation of Rut Depth with Moisture
Fig.4 : Variation of Rut Depth with CBR
From Figure 2, it is observed that field density
The best fit exponential curve fitted in the Figure 4
values changes from 1.568 g/cc to 1.956 g/cc for
indicates that rut depth decreases with increase in
varying rut depth from 4.50 to 10.25 mm. The best
the subgrade CBR value. This trend is more or less
fit polynomial curve developed in between rut
similar to the developed relation in between field
depth and field density values indicates a general

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Effect of subgrade on rutting of flexible pavement in low volume roads

density and rut depth. As the vertical compressive 7. Greg Arnold & Sabine Werkmeister,
strains reduces with the increase in density of the (2010)Pavement thickness design charts
subgrade material, so one would expect lower rut derived from a rut depth finite element
depths at higher density of the subgrade material model,NZ Transport Agency research report
with higher strength values. 427
8. Praveen Kumar and Nikesh Chandra, (2011),
CONCLUSIONS: Laboratory studies of skid resistance and rutting
From the study presented in this paper it is of Low Cost Bituminous Wearing Courses,
concluded that with the increase in the field density Indian Highways, Vol. 39 No.6.
in the subgrade of the flexible pavement, the rut 9. Brind Kumar, G.D. Ransinchung R.N., Praveen
depth decreases. But due to the incremental
Kumar and Digvijay Ananda Patil, (2012),Are
moisture content gradually soften the materials of
the gradation limits of Biuninous Concrete,
subgrade and may increases the rut depth. The
Grade-1 rut resistant?, Indian highways, Vol.
relationship between the bearing ratio and the rut
depth of subgrade indicates that the vertical 40, No.5
compressive strains may be reduced due to 10. H.S. Jagadeesh, R.Sathyamurty, K.Ganesh
incremental values of the strength of the subgrade &Manoj Kumar, (2009), Effect of soaking on
materials after achieving better field density. Rutting Characteristics of Bituminous Concrete
Mix with Modified Binders, Highway
REFERENCES: Research Journal, Vol.2, No.2.
11. I Srinivasa Reddy and M. Amarnath Reddy,
1. Oguz Acikgoz&Rezhin Rauf, (2010), Analysis (2013), Study on Rutting Characteristics of
of Parameters Affecting Permanent Bituminous Binders and Mixes, Journal of the
Deformation in Road Pavement,Masters Indian Roads Congress, Vol.73-4
Thesis in Geo and Water Engineering .
2. G. Ramulu, S. Shankar, Venkaiah Chowdary
and C.S.R.K. Prasad,(2012) Influence of
unbound material properties on rutting potential
of low volume roads, Elixir Cement &
Concrete Composites pp 6377-6382
3. Loay Akram Al-Khateeb, Andrews Saoud and
Mohammad Fawaz Al-Msouti., (2011) Rutting
Prediction of Flexible Pavements Using Finite
Element Modelling Jordan Journal of Civil
Engineering, Volume 5, No. 2.
4. Rafiqul A. Tarefder, Nayan Saha, Jerome W.
Hall, and Percy T.-T. Ng,(2008)Evaluating
Weak Subgrade for Pavement Design and
Performance Prediction Journal of
GeoEngineering, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 13-24
5. Vincent Janoo, Lynne Irwin, and Robert
Haehnel (2003) ,Pavement Subgrade
Performance Study Engineer Research and
Development Center
6. Andrew Dawson&Pauli Kolisoja,
(2006),Managing Rutting in Low Volume

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