Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Ralph J Hodek


Moisture induced distresses have been the prevalent distress type affecting the deterioration of both asphalt and concrete pavement sections. While various surface techniques have been employed over the years to minimize the ingress of moisture into the pavement structural sections, subsurface drainage components like open-graded base courses remain the best alternative in minimizing the time the pavement structural sections are exposed to saturated conditions. This research therefore focuses on assessing the performance and cost-effectiveness of pavement sections containing both treated and untreated open-graded aggregate base materials.

Three common roadway aggregates comprising of two virgin aggregates and one recycled aggregate were investigated using four open-ended gradations and two binder types. Laboratory tests were conducted to determine the hydraulic, mechanical and durability characteristics of treated and untreated open-graded mixes made from these three aggregate types. Results of the experimental program show that for the same gradation and mix design types, limestone samples have the greatest drainage capacity, stability to traffic loads and resistance to degradation from environmental conditions like freeze-thaw. However, depending on the gradation and mix design used, all three aggregate types namely limestone, natural gravel and recycled concrete can meet the minimum coefficient of hydraulic conductivity required for good drainage in most pavements. Tests results for both asphalt and cement treated open-graded samples indicate that a percent air void content within the range of 15-25 will produce a treated open-graded base course with sufficient drainage capacity and also long term stability under both traffic and environmental loads.

Using the new Mechanistic and Empirical Design Guide software, computer simulations of pavement performance were conducted on pavement sections containing these open-graded base aggregate base materials to determine how the MEPDG predicted pavement performance is sensitive to drainage. Using three truck traffic levels and four climatic regions, results of the computer simulations indicate that the predicted performance was not sensitive to the drainage characteristics of the open-graded base course.

Based on the result of the MEPDG predicted pavement performance, the cost-effectiveness of the pavement sections with open-graded base was computed on the assumption that the increase service life experienced by these sections was attributed to the positive effects of subsurface drainage. The two cost analyses used gave two contrasting results with the one indicating that the inclusion of open-graded base courses can lead to substantial savings.