Permeable friction courses : stormwater quality benefits and hydraulic profile modeling
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This paper presents the results of a study on the effectiveness of porous overlays on urban highways. Permeable Friction Course (PFC) is a layer of porous asphalt applied to the top of conventional asphalt highways at a thickness of around 50 mm. PFC is often installed for safety and noise benefits, and is being seen as an emerging technology for meeting environmental requirements for stormwater discharge. The first objective of the study was to determine the impact of porous asphalt on the quality of stormwater runoff on highways with a curb and gutter drainage system. The quality of highway stormwater runoff was monitored before and after the installation of PFC on an eight-lane divided highway in the Austin, Texas area for 2 years. Observed concentrations of total suspended solids from PFC are 92% lower than those in runoff from the conventional pavement. Concentration reductions are also observed for nitrate/nitrite and total amounts of phosphorus, copper, lead, and zinc. The data shows that the results with curb and gutter are consistent with past results where runoff sheet flowed onto vegetated shoulders. The effect of two different binder compositions is also compared, showing an increase in zinc when recycled rubber is used. The second objective focuses on the drainage capabilities of PFC. While porous overlays can reduce stormwater accumulation on roadways, capacity at high rainfall intensities is limited. Installing subgrade underdrains within PFC could further improve stormwater conveyance. This research attempts to model the hydraulic profile of runoff as it approaches an underdrain with varying flow rates and grades. The results could assist TxDOT in the sizing and configuration of drains based on rainfall intensity and roadway geometry.