Field performance of geogrid reinforced low-volume pavements
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For the past three decades, geosynthetics have been recognized as materials that can significantly improve the performance of pavements on weak subgrade. Pavements exhibit non-linear elasto-plastic behavior. The addition of geosynthetics is undoubtedly beneficial. This being said, researchers have concentrated more on lower life cycle cost and high benefit-cost ratio whereas much less attention has been given to the complex behavior of the reinforced pavement system. Comprehension of the short-term and long-term field performance of reinforced pavements under continued traffic and cyclic environmental loading has remained unexplored. There is empirical evidence indicating quantitative benefits of reinforced versus unreinforced pavement structure. However, quantification of the relative benefits of different types of reinforcement like geogrids and geotextiles lacks information. Further, evaluation of the benefits and comparison of chemical stabilization in the form of lime treatment with mechanical stabilization in the form of reinforcement for pavements on soft soils has received lack of attention. In view of this, full-scale instrumented reinforced and lime treated pavement sections with different schemes were studied. Regular Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) testing was conducted in a Farm-to-Market Road, in Grimes County, Texas. Three different geosynthetic products were used for base reinforcement and lime treatment was used for subbase stabilization. Deflection measurements for 9 field trips in 3.5 years were evaluated. Modified deflection basin parameters (DBPs) were defined to typically identify layer properties and were used to measure the relative damage to the base, subbase and subgrade for different sections. A modified Base Damage Index (BDI) and a modified Base Curvature Index (BCI) were defined as a part of this study to capture the benefit of reinforced base and lime stabilized subbase respectively. The variation in the DBPs over three periods of wetting and drying along with explanation of the observed trends forms a part of this research. In addition, a number of condition surveys were performed, during 3 years, to visually identify distresses in various sections. A unique distress quantification technique was developed for measuring deterioration of the pavement sections in terms of the observed distresses and FWD measurements. With this, an index of pavement performance was developed. Thus, the FWD deflection data analyses complemented by visual observation, reveals important information on performance of different geosynthetics with the same base course. Analysis of the field performance of the multiple experimental sections throws light on the relative merits of base reinforcement against lime stabilization.