A study of geosynthetic reinforced flexible pavement system
The use of geosynthetics as reinforcement for the base layer of flexible pavement systems has grown steadily over the past thirty years. In spite of the evidence that geosynthetic reinforcements can lead to improved pavement performance, the specific conditions or mechanisms that enable and govern the reinforcement are unclear, largely remaining unidentified and unmeasured. The appropriate selection of design parameters for geosynthetics is complicated by the difficulty in associating their relevant properties to the improved pavement performance. In addition, pavement structures deteriorate under the combined effects of traffic loading and environmental conditions, such as moisture changes. However, these factors have not been studied together in the evaluation of the overall performance of pavement systems. Consequently, this research focused on the assessment of the effect of geosynthetics on the pavement structural section's ability to support traffic loads and to resist environmental changes. Accordingly, the primary objectives of this research were: (i) to determine the governing mechanisms and relevant properties of geosynthetics that contribute to the enhanced performance of pavement systems; (ii) to develop appropriate analytical, laboratory and field methods that are capable of quantifying the above properties for geosynthetics; and (iii) to enable the prediction of pavement performance depending on the various types of geosynthetics used. To fulfill these three objectives, an evaluative, laboratory and field study was performed. The improved performance of pavements due to addition of geosynthetics was attributed to the ability of geosynthetics to laterally restrain the base course material, thereby providing a confinement effect to the pavement. A parameter to quantify the soil-geosynthetic interaction at low displacement magnitudes based on the solution of an analytical model for geosynthetics confined in pullout box was proposed. The pullout tests were then conducted on various geosynthetics to obtain the proposed parameter for various geosynthetics. The quantitative magnitude of the parameter value from the laboratory tests was compared with the qualitative performance observed in the field test sections. Overall, a good agreement was obtained between the laboratory and field results, thereby providing confidence in the ability of the proposed analytical model to predict the governing mechanism for geosynthetic reinforced pavements.