Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Jacob Hiller

Committee Member 1

William J. Sproule

Committee Member 2

Kuilin Zhang

Committee Member 3

Jiann-Yang Hwang


The highway system serves as the most critical transportation link in the economic development of a nation. In Michigan, about 74% of all the commodities delivered annually are transported by heavy trucks. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) permits multi-axle (11 axles) heavy truck with gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit of 164,000 lb., unlike many states having GVW limit of 80,000 lb. The effect of these heavy truck loadings on pavements might accelerate the rate of deterioration for flexible and rigid pavement structures. More detailed knowledge of the interaction of trucks with the pavement structure is essential for better management of the highway network. In this study, pavement responses (stresses, strains and deflections) are evaluated under loading of multi-axles (11 axles) of heavy Michigan trucks including the impacts of different tire configurations and compared these responses with a standard 5-axle semi-trailer. The effects of truck loading, pavement thickness, joint system and material properties, and environmental (thermal) condition on the pavement damage caused by heavy Michigan trucks are evaluated. The major fatigue and faulting damage for rigid pavements as well as fatigue and subgrade rutting for flexible (asphalt) pavements are analyzed. The finite element method (FEM) based program ISLAB2000 has been used to compute rigid pavement responses (stresses or deflections). For flexible pavement responses (strains), multilayer elastic theory based program JULEA has been used. Results show that the standard truck has a higher fatigue damage potential under positive temperature gradient (during daytime) across slab. The Michigan trucks provide a greater fatigue damage potential under negative temperature gradient (during nighttime). Moreover, the positive temperature gradient yields a greater bending stress than that of negative temperature gradient and their critical stress locations are in the opposite surfaces. A thicker slab reduces both the fatigue and faulting damage of pavement. The standard truck has higher faulting damage potential. Moreover, the standard truck exhibits higher risk of both asphalt concrete (AC) fatigue and subgrade rutting damage for the flexible pavement when compared with Michigan trucks. As the number of axles increases, the heavy loads are distributed to larger areas and thus produce lower pavement damage