A tool to improve and preserve flexible pavement at intersections

Carlos Jesus Solis, University of Texas at El Paso


Rural intersections originally constructed with thin untreated flexible base and hot mix or a two-course surface treatment tend to experience severe pushing, shoving and rutting. These failures cause an extremely rough surface that can cause damage to small vehicles and potentially cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles. These distresses almost always result in complete failure of the existing pavement that must be repaired several times during the life of the roadway by maintenance forces. In most cases, pavements constructed with the same materials and cross-sections adjacent to the intersection perform adequately. The sources of and solutions for failure of the intersections in urban areas are well researched and a number of solutions (such as full-depth concrete slabs, white topping, high quality hot mix asphalt) have been implemented. Little attention has been focused toward the rural low-volume road intersections in the US. A vast body of knowledge is available from work done in other countries (e.g., Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand) where the majority of their highway networks are either unpaved or are covered with thin surface treatment. The primary motivation for reconstruction or rehabilitation of the urban high-volume intersections is the speed of the operation to minimize the road closure, and the economy of the solution is of the secondary consideration. However, to develop implementable solutions for the rural intersections, the economy of the solution plays a primary role. The primary goal of this project is to provide solutions that can be readily and economically carried out considering the location of the project, the construction practices, and the type of potential or actual damage at the intersections. Since the sources of excessive distresses at the intersections and their possible solutions are diverse, an easy-to-use excel program is proposed to incorporate the knowledge gained. The program will provide step-by-step guidance on the process of identifying the source of the problem, and selecting the best cost-effective alternative to mitigate the problem. The body of evidence from other countries with vast network of low-volume roads indicates that the most economical and effective solutions are those that strengthen the shallow subgrade or base instead of adding layers of hot mix or concrete.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Solis, Carlos Jesus, "A tool to improve and preserve flexible pavement at intersections" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1477829.