Rigid pavements have sufficient flexural strength to transmit the wheel load stresses to a wider area below. Compared to flexible pavement, rigid pavements are placed either directly on the prepared sub-grade or on a single layer of granular or stabilized material. Since there is only one layer of material between the concrete and the sub-grade, this layer can be called as base or sub-base course.
In rigid pavement, load is distributed by the slab action, and the pavement behaves like an elastic plate resting on a viscous medium .Rigid pavements are constructed by Portland cement concrete (PCC) and should be analyzed by plate theory instead of layer theory, assuming an elastic plate resting on viscous foundation. Plate theory is a simplified version of layer theory that assumes the concrete slab as a medium thick plate which is plane before loading and to remain plane after loading. Bending of the slab due to wheel load and temperature variation and the resulting tensile and flexural stress.
Types of Rigid Pavements
Rigid pavements can be classified into four types:
Jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP),
Jointed reinforced concrete pavement (JRCP),
Continuous reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP), and
Pre-stressed concrete pavement (PCP).
Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement: are plain cement concrete pavements constructed with closely spaced contraction joints. Dowel bars or aggregate interlocks are normally used for load transfer across joints. They normally has a joint spacing of 5 to 10m.
Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavement: Although reinforcements do not improve the structural capacity significantly, they can drastically increase the joint spacing to 10 to 30m. Dowel bars are required for load transfer. Reinforcements help to keep the slab together even after cracks.
Continuous Reinforced Concrete Pavement: Complete elimination of joints are achieved by reinforce-ment.
Material characterization for pavement construction
The following material properties are important for both flexible and rigid pavements.
When pavements are considered as linear elastic, the elastic moduli and poisson ratio of subgrade and each component layer must be specified.
If the elastic modulus of a material varies with the time of loading, then the resilient modulus, which is elastic modulus under repeated loads, must be selected in accordance with a load duration corresponding to the vehicle speed.
When a material is considered non-linear elastic, the constitutive equation relating the resilient modulus to the state of the stress must be provided.
However, many of these material properties are used in visco-elastic models which are very complex and in the development stage. This book covers the layered elastic model which require the modulus of elasticity and poisson ratio only.
The Environmental factors that affect the pavement materials
Environmental factors affect the performance of the pavement materials and cause various damages. Environ-mental factors that affect pavement are of two types, temperature and precipitation and they are discussed below:
The effect of temperature on asphalt pavements is different from that of concrete pavements.
Temperature affects the resilient modulus of asphalt layers, while it induces curling of concrete
slab. In rigid pavements, due to difference in temperatures of top and bottom of slab, temperature
stresses or frictional stresses are developed. While in flexible pavement, dynamic modulus of
asphaltic concrete varies with temperature. Frost heave causes differential settlements and
pavement roughness. Most detrimental effect of frost penetration occurs during the spring break up
period when the ice melts and subgrade is a saturated condition.
The precipitation from rain and snow affects the quantity of surface water in filtrating
into the subgrade and the depth of ground water table. Poor drainage may bring lack of shear strength,pumping, loss of support, etc.
Factors which affects pavement design
Traffic and Loading
There are three different approaches for considering vehicular and traffic characteristics, which affects pavement design.
Fixed traffic: Thickness of pavement is governed by single load and number of load repetitions is not considered. The heaviest wheel load anticipated is used for design purpose. This is an old method and is rarely used today for pavement design.
Fixed vehicle: In the fixed vehicle procedure, the thickness is governed by the number of repetitions of a standard axle load. If the axle load is not a standard one, then it must be converted to an equivalent axle load by number of repetitions of given axle load and its equivalent axle load factor.
Variable traffic and vehicle: In this approach, both traffic and vehicle are considered individually, so there is no need to assign an equivalent factor for each axle load. The loads can be divided into a number of groups and the stresses, strains, and deflections under each load group can be determined separately; and used for design purposes. The traffic and loading factors to be considered include axle loads, load repetitions, and tyre contact area.
Important factor in the pavement design
Traffic is the most important factor in the pavement design. The key factors include contact pressure, wheel load, axle configuration, moving loads, load, and load repetitions.
Contact pressure: The tyre pressure is an important factor, as it determine the contact area and the contact pressure between the wheel and the pavement surface. Even though the shape of the contact area is elliptical, for sake of simplicity in analysis, a circular area is often considered.
Wheel load: The next important factor is the wheel load which determines the depth of the pavement required to ensure that the subgrade soil is not failed. Wheel configuration affect the stress distribution and deflection within a pavemnet. Many commercial vehicles have dual rear wheels which ensure that the contact pressure is within the limits. The normal practice is to convert dual wheel into an equivalent single wheel load so that the analysis is made simpler.
Axle configuration: The load carrying capacity of the commercial vehicle is further enhanced by the intro-duction of multiple axles.
Moving loads: The damage to the pavement is much higher if the vehicle is moving at creep speed. Many studies show that when the speed is increased from 2 km/hr to 24 km/hr, the stresses and deflection reduced by 40 per cent.
Repetition of Loads: The influence of traffic on pavement not only depend on the magnitude of the wheel load, but also on the frequency of the load applications. Each load application causes some deformation and the total deformation is the summation of all these. Although the pavement deformation due to single axle load is very small, the cumulative effect of number of load repetition is significant. Therefore, modern design is based on total number of standard axle load (usually 80 kN single axle).