An overview of asphalt pavement design for streets and roads
Pavements constitute a geotechnical problem since they are built on the ground and with materials obtained from it: untreated, such as soils and rocks, and processed as hydraulic and bituminous binders; consequently, a geotechnical framework is useful to describe their constitutive elements. The design of asphalt pavements for streets and roads evolved from empiric to mechanistic-empiric (M-E) procedures throughout the 20th century. The mechanistic-empiric method, based on layered elastic theory, became a common practice with the publication of separate procedures by Shell Oil, Asphalt Institute, and French LCPC, among others. Since its origin, the M-E procedure can consider incremental pavement design but, only until the beginning of the 21st century, the computational power became available to practicing engineers. American MEPDG represents the state-of-the-art M-E incremental design procedure with significant advantages and drawbacks, the latter mainly related to the extensive calibration activities required to assure a proper analysis and design according to subgrade, climate, and materials at a particular location and for an intended level of reliability. Perpetual pavements are a subset of M-E designed pavements with a proven history of success for the conditions where they are warranted. No design method, either the most straightforward empirical approach or the most elaborated incremental mechanistic one, is appropriate without proper knowledge about the fundamental design factors and calibration of the performance models for each distress mode upon consideration.
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