Laboratory Evaluation of Hot-Mix Asphalt Concrete Fatigue Cracking Resistance
Jamison, Brandon Parker
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The recent changes in the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) hot mix asphalt (HMA) mix design procedures to ensure that the mixture types routinely used on Texas highways are not prone to rutting raised concerns that these mixture types are now more susceptible to fatigue cracking. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate fatigue cracking test methods and recommend that which is both simple and robust, especially in qualifying commonly used Texas mixture types. One way to minimize fatigue cracking is through material screening and selection of appropriate mix designs that are representative of fatigue-resistant HMA mixes. However, there are not many standardized laboratory fracture resistance tests that have been universally adopted for routine mix design and/or screening purposes for HMA fatigue resistance. In this study, four different fracture test methods: the Overlay Tester (OT), Direct Tension (DT), Indirect Tension (IDT), and Semicircular Bending (SCB) tests were comparatively evaluated for their potential application as surrogate tests for routine fracture resistance evaluation and screening of HMA mixes in the laboratory. The evaluation criteria included: rationality of the test concept and correlation to field performance, repeatability and variability, simplicity and practicality of the sample fabrication process, and simplicity of data analysis. Results and key findings based on the laboratory fatigue resistance characterization of various commonly used Texas coarse- and fine-graded HMA mixes (Type B, C, and D) are presented in this paper. Overall, preliminary findings indicated that no monotonically-loaded test would be appropriate as a surrogate fatigue resistance test; however, the SCB test showed potential as a repeated-loading test. Suggested SCB test improvements include developing the repeated SCB test protocol, determining the appropriate failure criterion, and correlating laboratory performance to field performance.