Longitudinal Cracking Investigation on I-72 Experimental Unbonded Concrete Overlay

Project Details









John DeSantis, Jeffery Roesler


Illinois DOT


Concrete overlays, Cracking, Interstate highways, Longitudinal cracking, Pavement interlayers

Project description

A research study investigated longitudinal cracking developing along an experimental unbonded concrete overlay (UBOL) on I-72 near Riverton, Illinois. The project evaluated existing literature on UBOL (design, construction, and performance), UBOL case studies, and mechanistic-empirical design procedures for defining the mechanisms that are contributing to the observed distresses. Detailed distress surveys and coring were conducted to assess the extent of the longitudinal cracking and faulting along the longitudinal lane-shoulder joint. Coring over the transverse contraction joints in the driving lane showed stripping and erosion of the dense-graded hot-mix asphalt (HMA) interlayer was the primary mechanism initiating the longitudinal cracks. Cores from the lane-shoulder joint confirmed stripping and erosion was also occurring there and leading to the elevation difference between the driving lane and shoulder. Field sections by surrounding state departments of transportation (DOTs), such as Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, with similar UBOL design features to the I-72 section were examined. Site visits were performed in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, while other sections were reviewed via state DOT contacts as well as Google Earth and Maps. Evidence from other DOTs suggested that HMA interlayers, whether dense graded or drainable, could experience stripping, erosion, and instability under certain conditions. An existing performance test for interlayers, i.e., Hamburg wheel-tracking device, and current models reviewed were not able to predict the distresses on I-72 eastbound. Adapting a dynamic cylinder test is a next step to screen HMA interlayers (or other stabilized layers) for stripping and erosion potential. To slow down the cracking and faulting on I-72 eastbound, sealing of the longitudinal lane-shoulder joint and driving lane transverse joints is suggested. To maximize UBOL service life, an HMA overlay will minimize water infiltration into the interlayer system and significantly slow down the HMA stripping and erosion mechanism that has led to longitudinal cracking and lane-shoulder faulting.