Characterization of heavy traffic axle load spectra for mechanistic-empirical pavement design applications

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 Heavy traffic axle load spectrum (ALS) is  one of the key inputs for mechanistic-empirical analysis and design of pavement structures. Frequently, the entire ALS is aggregated into Equivalent Number of Single Axle Loads (ESAL) or assumed to have Constant Contact  Area  (CCA)  or  Constant  Contact  Pressure  (CCP).  These characterizations affect the accuracy and computational performance of the pavement analysis. The objective of this study was to evaluate these  characterizations  based  on  predicted  performances  to  rutting and fatigue cracking of several pavement structures subjected to ALS data collected from 12 Bridge-Weigh-In-Motion stations. The results indicated  that  for  layers  below  the  top  25  cm,  all  characterizations produced similar values of predicted rutting. However, for the top 25 cm, the methods differed in the predicted performances to rutting and fatigue cracking. Furthermore an improvement to the CCA approach was proposed that enhanced the accuracy while maintaining the same level of computational performance.

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