New road infrastructure projects are important and constitute of large investments that have to serve the society for a long time. The investments have to be durable at the lowest life cycle cost and the pavements have to sustain loads from increasing traffic intensity and heavy traffic loads. In Sweden less than 1 ‰ of the national road network consists of concrete pavements. In parts of Europe and in the U.S., on the other hand, concrete roads are used to a large extent for highways as well as rural roads. To encourage the competition between different road materials in Sweden, the tools for designing robust concrete pavements have to be brought forward. In order to emphasize plain concrete pavements as an alternative in road construction, the design must also be competitive.
The current Swedish design method for concrete pavements is straightforward but offers no flexibility when designing roads with, for instance higher traffic loads. The method calculates concrete thicknesses on the conservative side since only a limited number of parameters are treated. Modern methods that take into account many more parameters in the design are being developed internationally. For a new Swedish design method, these parameters have to be established for actual conditions in Sweden. Also, the design has to be flexible and meet the demands from contractors and clients for a wider use.
The aim of this project is to develop a new design method for plain concrete pavements that is more flexible than today. A new design method is also intended for the Swedish Road Administrations’ (SRA) computer based public design guide, PMS Objekt.
Information for a new design method has been assembled mainly by investigating two newly developed design methods, VENCON2.0 in the Netherlands, and the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) in the USA. Comparative calculations between the Swedish design method and the MEPDG are presented. The comparison is made on the level of input parameters and highlights the advantageous aspects of a semi-mechanistic design procedure where the functional properties of a concrete pavement are calculated incrementally over the design period.
Plain and lean concrete, separately, but also the in composite beams, have been studied in flexural fatigue testing. The results show that Tepfers’ fatigue criterion is valid for both plain and lean concrete when subjected to flexural fatigue loading. The results also show that the fatigue strength of composite beams of plain and lean concrete is mainly dependent on the strength of the lean concrete but that Tepfers’ fatigue criterion is applicable. The bond between plain in lean concrete is found to be strong and fatigue resistant, making the composite section able to accommodate higher stresses. The bond nevertheless contributes to the risk for reflection cracks in the plain concrete wear layer and a recommendation to focus on stresses in the bottom of the lean concrete is formulated. Also, well distributed expansion joints in the lean concrete are necessary.
A new project for measuring temperature gradients for use in concrete pavement design is also presented. This is done with means of concrete prisms placed in the pavement and are done in order to establish actual temperature gradients for various locations in Sweden. Also, the nonlinear gradients that act in the pavement as well as the negative temperature gradients will be analysed for the use in the design.
Finally, the thesis outlines a new design method for Swedish conditions. The method is possible to develop gradually and is based on FE-analysis for fast computations. In the design, stresses from traffic and temperature loads are calculated simultaneously in a number of critical locations in the concrete slab. The method will also make it possible to alter design features as slab lengths and widths, with various connections between the slabs.