University Transportation Centers Program
The accurate modeling of the main features of continuously-reinforced concrete pavements (CRCP) is of primary importance in a mechanistic-empirical pavement design procedure. The use of the finite element (FE) method as a comprehensive tool for modeling the responses of rigid pavements, CRCP in particular, has been limited because of the complexity of calculations in modeling material nonlinear behaviors, which are difficult to describe mathematically and computationally. Significant amount of research has been conducted to improve the design of CRCPs under traffic, environmental, and thermal loads. To develop a reliable model that better represents the behavior of CRCP, a clear understanding of the design features that impact CRCP responses is essential. Researchers from the University of Texas at El Paso developed NYSLAB to analyze the response of comprehensively jointed concrete pavements (JCPs) under different geometric configurations, foundation models, temperature gradient profiles and traffic loads. This tool has the capability to analyze pavements under nonlinear thermal profiles across the thickness of the slab and capture the frictional tractions between the slab and foundation. All the complications related to appropriate discretization and modeling are handled internally by the software. This research study aims to expand the capacity of NYSLAB by integrating a CRCP model that is capable of predicting the responses of a critical section within a CRCP pavement structure subjected to traffic and environmental loading conditions. Unlike JCPs, CRCPs use reinforcing steel rather than contraction joints for crack control. Therefore, the development of a new FE model that defines the complex interaction between the reinforcement steel and concrete as well as the slab-foundation interaction due to friction and temperature changes will be implemented into the proposed tool.