Increased Single-Lift Thicknesses for Unbound Aggregate Base Courses

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Allen, John J.
Bueno, Jaime L.
Kalinski, Michael E.
Myers, Michael L.
Stokoe, Kenneth H.

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A study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of compacting unbound aggregate base courses in thicker lifts than currently permitted by state departments of transportation (DOTs). At present, the majority of states allow a maximum lift thickness of 8 inches or less. This project constructed and tested full-scale test sections using a variety of material types. Two test pads were constructed in an aggregate quarry in Texas utilizing crushed limestone. Three crushed granite test sections were built as part of a road widening project in Georgia, and two test pads were constructed of uncrushed and partially crushed gravel with loess fines at a gravel production facility near Memphis, Tennessee. Single-lift thicknesses varied from 6 inches to 21 inches. Moisture contents and densities were evaluated using the Nuclear Density Gauge (NDG). Nondestructive seismic testing, using the Spectral-Analysis-of-Surface-Waves (SASW) technique, was used to evaluate stiffness profiles within the compacted lifts. Cyclic plate load tests were accomplished by means of the Rolling Dynamic Deflectometer (RDD), modified for this static application. Results showed that compaction targets could be attained for lifts up to 21 inches thick. Density and stiffness results for 13-inch thick lifts in the Georgia tests were equal to, or better than, the results for the base placed in two lifts, a 7-inch lift followed by a 6-inch lift. Higher moisture contents during compaction yielded lower shear wave velocity and Young’s modulus values. Seismic results show that the upper 3 inches of the final test pads had lower stiffness values, presumably from lower effective stresses near the surface and possibly from some disturbance caused by the compaction equipment. This zone of lower stiffness and slightly less compaction is less evident in the density measurements.


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