Using finite element structural analysis to study retroreflective raised pavement markers
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This thesis investigates the stress inside Retroreflective Raised Pavement Markers (RRPMs) under tire-marker impact and laboratory testing scenarios. Many RRPMs have poor durability although they meet certain standards of the existing laboratory tests. It has been suspected that the current testing procedures might not be adequate to decide the field performance of RRPMs. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the existing laboratory testing procedures and develop additional ones that could simulate the field performance of RRPMs more accurately. The tire-marker impact on rigid and flexible pavement will be investigated to identify the critical locations and magnitudes of stress inside markers during the impact. Various external factors, such as tire loading, tire speed, contact angle and contact location, might have effects on the stress inside markers during the impact and be considered as critical factors when developing a laboratory test. On the other hand, RRPMs have different profiles in terms of height, lens slope, and size etc, which affect the structure and field performance as well. The study explores the stress inside markers during the impact by varying the external factors and marker profile. In addition, the interface forces between RRPMs and pavement surface will be studied. Furthermore, the tire-marker impact simulation on rigid and flexible pavement will be compared so that specific testing procedures can be distinguished based on pavement type. Finally, the existing laboratory tests will be examined and additional tests be recommended based on the tire-marker impact analysis. The researcher found that the critical compressive stress is produced at the top edges of the markers on both types of pavement, while the patterns of critical tensile stress can be different between the two types of pavement. In addition, tire loading and contact location were determined to have effect on the stress inside the markers. Furthermore, different loading rates should be used in laboratory test based on pavement type. Finally, the researcher evaluated four laboratory tests and found that each test has its merit but none of them can test RRPMs comprehensively, so it is recommended that the four tests are used together to test RRPMs.