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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of Milling and Other Repairs on the Smoothness of Overlays on Asphalt Pavements from 2000 to 2009

  • Author(s): Hung, Shawn S.
  • Rezaei, Arash
  • Harvey, John T.
  • et al.

The application of asphalt overlays comprises a significant percentage of the maintenance activities undertaken to improve the condition of existing asphalt pavements, and greater attention is now being paid to improving surface smoothness by constructing smoother overlays. The expected benefits of smoother overlays include longer service life due to decreased dynamic loading, improved fuel economy, and greater road-user comfort. In this study, data from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Pavement Condition Survey (PCS) for projects built between 2000 and 2009 were used to investigate the effects of repairs, pavement pre-overlay smoothness (in terms of International Roughness Index, IRI), overlay mix type (dense-graded, gap-graded, open-graded), and binder type (rubberized versus conventional or polymer-modified) on initial post-construction overlay smoothness. The results are based on overlays constructed prior to implementation of the Caltrans smoothness specification for overlay construction. Linear mixed effects models were used in the analysis to take into account the variation across random effect variables. In this study, overlay smoothness was measured in terms of IRI. The analysis results indicated that the pavement pre-overlay IRI was the most important variable affecting overlay smoothness: pavements with lower pre-overlay IRI were smoother than those with higher pre-overlay IRI. When the pre-overlay condition was poor, increasing overlay thickness was also found to have a significant effect on post-overlay smoothness. In terms of pre-overlay repairs, analysis of Caltrans PCS data showed that overlays were smoother when digouts (milling and patching in the wheelpaths) were performed compared with milling of the entire surface prior to the overlay. The effects of overlay mix type and binder type were dependent on the pre-existing pavement condition and/or other factors.

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