MACREAD REFERENCE MANUAL APENDIX A

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MACREAD REFERENCE MANUAL APENDIX A

© All Rights Reserved

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2012.12.03

Traffic Loads

Traffic is the most important factor in pavement design. The consideration of traffic shall include both the loading magnitude

and configuration and the number of load repetitions.

One of the primary functions of a pavement is load distribution, therefore, in order to adequately design a pavement,

something must be known about the expected loads it will encounter. Loads, that is the vehicle forces exerted on the

pavement (e.g., by trucks, heavy machinery, airplanes), can be characterized by the following parameters:

• Axle and tire configurations

• Repetition of loads

• Distribution of traffic across the pavement

• Vehicle speed

Loads, along with the environment, damage pavement over time. The simplest pavement structural model asserts that each

individual load inflicts a certain amount of unrecoverable damage. This damage is cumulative over the life of the pavement and

when it reaches some maximum value the pavement is considered to have reached the end of its useful service life.

Therefore, pavement structural design requires a quantification of all expected loads a pavement will encounter over its design

life. This quantification is usually done by the fixed vehicle approach:

This approach converts wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions ("mixed traffic") to an equivalent number of

"standard" or "equivalent" loads.

Practically the thickness of pavement is considered to be governed by the number of repetitions of a standard vehicle or axle

load, usually the 18-kip (80 kN)) single-axle load. If the axle load is not 80 kN or consist of tandem or tridem axles, it must be

converted to an 80 kN single-axle load by an Equivalent Axle Load Factor (EALF).

The number of repetitions under each single or multiple axle loads must be multiplied by its EALF to obtain the equivalent effect

based on an 80 kN single-axle load. The sum of the equivalent effects of all axle loads during the design period results in an

Equivalent Single-Axle Load (ESAL), which is the single traffic parameter for design purposes.

Due to the great varieties of axle loads and traffic volumes and their intractable effects on pavement performance, most of the

design methods in use today are based on this fixed vehicle concept.

Tire Loads

Tire loads are the fundamental loads at the actual tire-pavement contact points. For most pavement analyses, it is assumed

that the tire load is uniformly applied over a circular area. Also, it is generally assumed that tire inflation and contact pressures

are the same (this is not exactly true, but adequate for approximations). The following equation relates the radius of tire

contact to tire inflation pressure and the total tire load:

P

a=

pπ (a.1)

P = total load on the tire (kN)

p = tire inflation pressare (kPa)

While the tire contact pressure and area is of vital concern in pavement performance, the number of contact points per vehicle

and their spacing is also important. As tire loads get closer together their influence areas on the pavement begin to overlap, at

which point the design characteristic of concern is no longer the single isolated tire load but rather the combined effect of all

the interacting tire loads. Therefore, axle and tire arrangements are quite important.

• Single axle — single tire (truck steering axles, etc.)

• Single axle — dual tires

• Tandem axle — single tires

• Tandem axle — dual tires

2

Single Axle with Single Tires Single Axle with Dual Tires

Tandem Axles with Single Tires Tandem Axles with Dual Tires

Although it is not too difficult to determine the wheel and axle loads for an individual vehicle, it becomes quite complicated to

determine the number and types of wheel/axle loads that a particular pavement will be subject to over its entire design life.

Furthermore, it is not the wheel load but rather the damage to the pavement caused by the wheel load that is of primary

concern. The Equivalent single axle load (ESAL) is a method for characterizing wheel load repetitions: based on AASHO Road

Test results, the approach is to convert wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions ("mixed traffic") to an equivalent

number of "standard" or "equivalent" loads.

The equivalent load normally designated ESAL is the 80 kN (18,000 lbs) equivalent single axle

load.

Typically, designers must not only calculate ESALs for various vehicles but also must forecast the expected number of ESALs a

pavement will encounter over its entire design life. This information then helps determine the structural design. Highway design

in most states is based on the ESAL traffic input anticipated over a future 10 to 50 year period. This is done by forecasting the

traffic the pavement will be subjected to over its design life, then converting the traffic to a specific number of ESALs based on

its makeup.

• Traffic count. A traffic count is used as a starting point for ESAL estimation. Most urban areas have some amount of

historical traffic count records. If not, simple traffic counts are relatively inexpensive and quick. In some cases,

designers may have to use extremely approximate estimates if no count data can be obtained.

• A count or estimate of the number of heavy vehicles. This usually requires some sort of vehicle classification within the

traffic count. The simplest classifications divide vehicles into two categories: (1) heavy trucks and (2) others.

• An estimated traffic (and heavy vehicle) growth rate over the design life of the pavement. A growth rate estimate is

required to convert a single year traffic count into the total traffic experienced over the pavement design life.

• Select appropriate Equivalent Axle Load Factor (EALF) to convert truck traffic to ESALs. Different regions may

experience different types of loads. For instance, the statewide EALF for Washington State is about 1.028

ESALs/truck.

• An ESAL estimate. An ESAL estimate can be made based on the preceding steps.

Traffic Distribution

Along with load type and repetitions, the load distributions across a particular pavement must be estimated. For instance, on a

6-lane interstate highway (3 lanes in each direction) the total number of loads is probably not distributed exactly equally in both

directions. Often one direction carries more loads than the other. Furthermore, within that one direction, not all lanes carry

the same loading. Typically, the outer most lane carries the most trucks and therefore is subjected to the heaviest loading.

Therefore, pavement structural design should account for these types of unequal load distribution. Typically, this is accounted

for by selecting a "design lane" for a particular pavement. The loads expected in the design lane are either (1) directly counted

3

or (2) calculated from the cumulative two-direction loads by applying factors for directional distribution and lane distribution.

The 1993 AASHTO Guide offers the following basic equation:

DD = a directional distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for the distribution of loads by

direction (e.g., east-west, north-south). For instance, one direction may carry a majority of the heavy

truck loads and thus it would either be designed differently or, at a minimum, it would control the

structural design. Generally taken as 0.5 (50%) for most roadways unless more detailed information is

known.

DL = a lane distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for the distribution of loads when two or

more lanes are available in one direction. For instance, on most interstate routes, the outside lane

carries a majority of the heavy truck traffic. It can be evaluated from the following table a.1:

Number of Lanes in Each Direction Percent of Loads in Design Lane

1 100

2 80 – 100

3 60 – 80

4 50 - 75

highway during the design period.

ESALs indicate the relative damage to a pavement structure due to various axle loads (e.g., the normal mixed traffic condition).

Wheel loads of various magnitudes and repetitions ("mixed traffic") can be converted to an equivalent number of "standard"

loads. As said, the most common standard load is the 80 kN (18,000 lbs) ESAL. The standard U.S. ESAL equation for flexible

pavements is derived from the AASHO Road Test results.

An equivalent axle load factor (EALF) defines the damage per pass to a pavement by the axle in question relative to the

damage per pass of a standard axle load, usually the 80 kN single-axle load. The EALF depends on the type of pavements,

thickness or structural capacity, and the terminal conditions at which the pavement is considered failed.

The Flexible Pavement the EALF Equation (a.3) provides load equivalency factors EALF which relates various axle load

combinations to the standard 80 kN (18,000 lbs) single axle load. It should be noted that EALFs as calculated by the EALF

equations are dependent upon the pavement structure (represented by the Structural Number SN for flexible pavements).

EALF = Nr of 18 kips single axle loads to create a certain drop in PSI (Pi-Pt) / Nr of “x” kip “y” axle loads to create the same

drop in PSI (Pi-Pt)

Wx L18 + L2 s 10 [L2 x ]4.33

=

W18 Lx + L2 x 10 β18

G

axle applications inverse of equivalency factors (where W18 = number of 18,000 lb (80 kN)

where: W =

single axle loads)

Lx = axle load being evaluated (kips)

L18 = 18 (standard axle load in kips)

code for axle configuration

1 = single axle

2 = tandem axle

L2 =

3 = triple axle

x = axle load equivalency factor being evaluated

s = code for standard axle = 1 (single axle)

4

4.2 − pt a function of the ratio of loss in serviceability at time t to

G = log the potential loss taken at a point where pt = 1.5

4.2 − 1.5

terminal serviceability index (point at which the pavement is considered to be at the end of its

pt =

useful life)

β = 0.4 + 3.23

serviceability and axle load applications

( SN + 1) L2 x

5.19

SN = Structural Number

Note that Equation (a.3) is dimensional and empirical: hence the loads L shall be introduced as [kips]; the following

equivalencies apply:

1 kip = 1.000 lb

1 kip = 4.444 kN

18 kips = 80 kN

It is important to note that EALF is relatively insensitive to Pt and SN, hence for the first estimate the following values can be

used:

Pt = 2.5

SN = 5.0

EALF values for single, tandem and tridem axles, as a function of Pt and SN, calculated with Equation (a.3), are listed in Tables

a.2, a.3, a.4.

5

Table a.3. EALF for tandem axles

6

Example Calculation for a Single Axle

Calculations:

4.79 G β 30

W30 18 + 1 10G [L2 x ]4.33

=

W18 L30 + L2 x 10 β18

where : W18 = predicted number of 18,000 lb (80 kN) single axle load applications,

W30 = predicted number of 30,000 lb (133 kN) single axle load applications,

Lx = L30 = 30

4.2 − 2.5

= log = −0.2009

4.2 − 1.5

β30 = curve slope factor

0.081(30 + 1) 3.23

= 0.4 + 3.23

= 4.388

(3 + 1) (1)

5.19

and G/β30 = -0.2009/4.388 = -0.04578

0.081(18 + 1) 3.23

β18 = 0.4 + 3.23

= 1.2204

(3 + 1) (1)

5.19

G/β18 = -0.2009/1.2204 = -0.1646

4.79

W18 30 + 1 10

W30

and ≅ 12.6% of W18 loads allowable with a 30 kips single axle

W18

1

Finally, EALF = = 7.9365 ≅ 7.9

0.1260

Calculations:

W40 L18 + L2 s

4.79 G β 40

= 10 [L2 x ]4.33

W18 s L40 + L2 x G β18

10

7

where : L40 = 40 (tandem axle)

4.2 − 2.5

= log = −0.2009

4.2 − 1.5

β40 = curve slope factor

0.081(40 + 2) 3.23

= 0.4 + 3.23

= 0.53824

(5 + 1) (2)

5.19

and G/β40 = -0.2009/0.53824 = -0.37325

0.081(18 + 1) 3.23

β18 = 0.4 + 3.23

= 0.50006

(5 + 1) (1)

5.19

G/β18 = -0.2009/0.50006 = -0.40175

4.79

W18 40 + 2 10 − 0.40175

1

Finally, EALF = = 2.08

0.48064

The AASHTO load equivalency equation is quite long and complicated. Therefore, as a rule-of-thumb, the damage caused by a

particular load is roughly related to the load by a power of four (for reasonably strong pavement surfaces):

For tandem or tridem axles, a more general equation is:

4

L

EALF = x

Ls (a.5)

Ls = is the load in kips on standard axles which have the same number of axles as Lx.

For example, given a flexible pavement with SN = 3.0 and pt = 2.5, from Table a.2:

a 18,000 lb (80 kN) single axle has EALF = 1.0

a 30,000 lb (133 kN) single axle has EALF = 7.9

4

30,000 lb

= 7.7

18,000 lb

Thus, the two estimates are approximately equal.

8

Examples:

For Pt = 2.5 and SN = 5, determine the EALF for 5000 lb (5 kips) and 50,000 lb (50 kips) single axles. If the EALF of a 32 kips

(145 kN) tandem axle is 0.857 (see Table a.3), determine the EALF for 15 kips and 80 kips tandem axles.

- For a single axle with Lx = 50: EALF = (50/18)4 = 59.84

- For tandem axles with Lx = 15 and Ls = 32: (Lx / Ls)4 = (15/32)4 = 0.0483, which must be multiplied by 0.857 to

obtain the equivalent factor between 15 kip tandem axles and an 18 kip single axle, so: EALF = 0.0483 x 0.857 =

0.041

- For tandem axles with Lx = 80: EALF = (80/15)4 x 0.857 = 33.48

The design procedures for roadways are based on w’18 (see Eq. a.2), that is the cumulative expected 18-kips equivalent single

axle loads (ESAL) during the analysis period. Hence the road design is based on the total number of passes of the standard axle

load during the design period, defined as the equivalent single-axle load (ESAL) and computed by:

m

ESAL = ∑ Fi ni

i =1 (a.6)

F = the EALF for the ith-axle load group

ni = the number of passes of the ith-axle load group during the design period

From equation (a.6) the cumulative two-directions traffic for the first year can be calculated:

Where:

ADTi = initial year Annual Daily Traffic = cumulative two-directional ESALs predicted for a specific section of highway during

the first year of design period

ESALDIRECTION 1 = average daily traffic in direction 1 of the road for initial year

ESALDIRECTION 2 = average daily traffic in direction 2 of the road for initial year

The total volume of traffic during the analysis period equals the first year traffic estimate ADTi multiplied by the compound

Traffic Growth Factor TGF:

w’18 = Traffic Growth Factor * First Year Traffic Estimate = TGF x ADT1 = TGF x N1 (a.8)

where:

w’18 = total volume of 18 kips loads during the analysis period

N1 = compact symbol for ADT1

TGF = compound Traffic Growth Factor = multiplier to be applied to N1 for getting the total ESALs which the road will carry

over the entire design life

If a year growth rate r is known, the total growth rate over the design life Y is:

GR = (1 + r)Y (a.9)

where:

r = the yearly rate of traffic growth

Y = the design period in years

Hence during the first year the traffic will be: N1 x GT1 = N1 x 1; during the second year the traffic will become: N1 x GT2 = N1 x

(1 + r); during the third year the traffic will become: N1 x GT3 = N1 x [(1 + r) x (1 + r)] = (1 + r)2; etc.

At the end of the first year the total traffic the road has carried is: N1 x 1; at the end of the second year the total traffic the

road has carried is: N1 x [1 + (1 + r)]; at the end of the third year the total traffic the road has carried is: ADT1 x [1 + (1 + r)

+ (1 + r)2]; etc.

9

Then the compound Traffic Growth Factor TGF over the design period Y is:

Example:

Then:

GR = (1 + 0,02)20 = 1,486

TGF = [(1+0,02)20 – 1] / loge (1 + 0,02) = 24,54

If the cumulative two-directional loads predicted for a specific section of highway during the first year of design period is: N1 =

1.000.000 ESALs

Then:

- at year 20 the annual traffic will be: N20 = N1 x GR = 1.000.000 x 1.486 = 1.486.000 ESALs

- over the 20 years design period the total number of ESALs the road will carry is:

w’18 = 1.000.000 x 24,54 = 24.540.000 ESALs

To determine the traffic (w18 ) that will be used in the design lane, equation (a.2) is used to account for the directional and lane

distribution factors:

where:

DD = a directional distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for the distribution of ESAL units by direction, e.g.,

east-west, north-south

DL = a lane distribution factor, expressed as a ratio, that accounts for distribution of traffic when two or more lanes are

available in one direction

w’18 = the cumulative two-directional 18-kip ESAL units predicted for a specific section of roadway during the analysis period, as

explained above.

The directional distribution factor DD is generally 0.5 (50%) for most roadways, however it may vary from 0.3 to 0.7 depending

on whether more or less traffic is passing in one direction than the other.

The process of determining the design traffic generally consists of the following steps:

1. Define the traffic spectrum;

2. Determine the number of equivalent single axles for each axle or axle group;

3. Determine the total number of equivalent single axles per day;

4. Use the equivalent single axles per day, together with the expected growth rate and design period to determine the

cumulative single axles during the design period.

Traffic evaluation will depend on the way the traffic spectrum is defined. A detailed traffic count requires that all heavy vehicles

be counted and classified, and that the number of vehicles in each class be determined. In addition, the intensity of the overall

traffic spectrum should be estimated either from visual observation or by doing spot checking of small samples.

A simple but quite realistic way to define the traffic spectrum is by dividing each vehicle class in four different traffic intensities:

a) empty,

b) half-full;

c) fully loaded.

d) overloaded.

10

For each of these intensities, and for each vehicle class, the number of equivalent standard axle loads can be determined. Thus

for vehicle class 1, there will be four possible standard axle loads representing an empty, half-full, full and overloaded vehicle.

When the traffic spectrum is defined as above explained, the following steps are followed to arrive at a number of equivalent

standard axles for each vehicle class.

The gross vehicle weight is divided among the vehicle axles. First the front steering axle shall be defined (as an example equal

to 65 kN). To determine the weight on the remaining axles, the adjusted gross vehicle weight (AGVW) is first determined for

each load intensity as follows:

b) Half-Full Vehicles: AGVW = Steering axle weight + 50 % of Gross vehicle weight;

c) Fully loaded vehicles: AGVW = Gross vehicle weight;

d) Overloaded vehicles: AGVW = Gross vehicle weight x 115%

The steering axle weight (example: 65 kN) is then subtracted from the adjusted gross vehicle weight, and the remainder is

divided by the number of axles (excluding the steering axle) to provide the weight per axle, for axles other than the steering

axle.

An example is reported in Table a.5, which shows the weight per axle for the 6-axle vehicle in Figure a.2.

Figure a.2. Six axle vehicle (steering axle + tandem axle + tridem axle)

Once the weight per axle has been determined for a vehicle class, the EALF is determined for each individual axle by using the

EALF equation (a.3).

Once the EALF for each axle or axle group of a vehicle class has been determined based on the above specified traffic intensity

distribution (sub-classes a, b, c, d), the number of vehicles per day for each vehicle sub-class is calculated; then by summing all

the contributions of ech sub-class the number of equivalent single axles (ESALs) per day applied by that vehicle class is

determined.

Example:

For the 6-axle vehicle in Figure a.2 the calculation of EALFs and ESALs is shown in Table a.5. Thus for a total of 100 6-axle

vehicles/day , the daily number of ESALs for this vehicle class is equal to 219.3.

Table a.5 - Calculation of EALFs and ESALs for a 6-axle vehicle class

11

As shown in Table a.6, by repeating the above calculation for all vehicle classes and by adding the totals for the four sub-

classes, the total number of ESALs per day is obtained for the total traffic spectrum.

In Table a.6 the default values of total vehicle weight and steering axle weight are referred to European standards, but the

calculation method is valid for any user’s defined weight: for user’s defined weights it is enough to use proportional values of

the steering axle weight and consequently of all other axles weight.

Table a.6. Calculation of ESALs per day for the whole traffic spectrum, for Pt = 2.5 and SN=5.0

12

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