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Paper 23

NRTC Mass Limits Review:



Warwick Pattinson
Project Manager
Melbourne, Australia

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this paper are those of the author. The tentative findings and
discussion are not endorsed by either AUSTROADS or any individual member authority.
Preliminary analysis suggests that if small increases in load limits were allowed for (multi) axle groups on
vehicles with "road friendly" suspensions the change in ESA-kms and therefore pavement maintenance and
re-habilitation costs, may not be significant.

INTRODUCTION kilometres. Even small increases in allowable load

limits (and therefore increases in payload carried)
This paper discusses the approach being taken could provide very significant dollar savings to
by AUSTROADS (the National Association of industry.
Australia's Road Authorities) to estimating the
likely costs (or savings) to pavements of The possibility that "road friendly" vehicles could be
allowing small increases in load for some axle allowed higher payloads, is thus being investigated
groups with types of suspensions which may as a high priority and in a way that would, if the
moderate dynamic wear effects. (The full scope proposition is feasible, allow for consistent National
of the work by the NRTC and AUSTROADS implementation of uniform limits for "road friendly"
however covers: vehicles; road and bridge vehicles.
impacts; compliance aspects; safety,
environmental, operational, economic and
financial impacts). (1) STUDY APPROACH
The study being undertaken by AUSTROADS for
BACKGROUND the NRTC is considering effects on both pavements
and structures. Only the work on pavements is
Vehicle mass and dimension limits in Australia discussed in this paper.
were initially set by and are still given legal force
by Individual State's legislation and regulations. 3.1 The approach to estimating pavement
effects involves:
In the early 1970's, the National Association of
Australian State Road Authorities (NAASRA), A simplified arterial road inventory
undertook a study of the Economics of Road summary with pavement condition
Vehicle Limits to "determine the most estimated in terms of remaining life.
appropriate mass and dimension limits for road
vehicles which should apply nationally ....... (2) Development of alternative loading
scenarios from axle loading options for
A Review of Road Vehicle Limits was conducted difference percentages of vehicles with
in 1984 to "improve uniformity and give the Road road friendly suspensions.
Transport Industry the opportunity to increase its
productMty within acceptable safety and Alternative loading scenarios expressed in
environmental impacts and within manageable annual (million) ESA kilometres of travel
costs of damage (sic) to the road (derived from estimates of the road freight
infrastructure".(3) task measured in tonne-kms, by vehicle
type and road type).
In 1991 chief ministers committed their
governments to "develop nationally uniform or Estimation of the costs of increased
consistent policies for road transport". Part of maintenance and earlier re-habilitation of
the driving force behind this agreement was the pavements for the alternative loading
imperative to reform transport regulations and scenarios.
improve road freight productivity to enhance
Australia's economic competitiveness. Pavement costs, le. increased maintenance and the
"bring forward" cost of earlier
Australia has over 170,000 kms of Arterial roads replacement/rehabilitation are estimated in a
on which there is an estimated 120,000 million sophisticated spreadsheet (developed by Tony
vehicle kilometres of travel, two thirds of which is Boyd of VicRoads) that allows for the interaction of
in urban areas. Travel on local roads is an the factors outlined above and for sensitivity testing
additional 35,000 million vehicle kilometres. to be carried out for assumptions like the ESA
Annual freight movement is estimated to be
approaching 200,000 million (gross) tonne-

OECD DIVINE PROJECT NRTC Mass Limits Rewew - Pavements Paper 23, Page 1
Mid-Tenn Seminar
Sydney, 2&3 Feburaiy 1995
3.2 An inventory (pavement area and lane Single axle, single
kilometres) is being assembled for all tyre 5.5 6.5 7.0
arterial roads in Australia, summarised Single axle, dual
by: tyres 8.5 9 9.5 10.0
Tandem axle, dual
State tyres 16.0 16.5 17.0 17.5
Tandem axle, six
Road Classification tyres 12.5 13 13.5 14.0
- Rural National Highways Tn-axle, dual
- Rural State Arterials, AADT >5000 tyres ZQ 21 22 23 24
- Rural State Artenals, AADT <5000
Current limits are underlined in the above
- Urban National Highways tabulation.
- Urban State Arterial
AADT> 20,000 Some 10 combinations are to be
- Urban State Arterial considered for trucks and 6 combinations
AADT < 20,000 for buses.

C. Pavement Type No increases are being considered for wide

- Concrete single tyres in multi-axle groups.
- Cement stabilised
- Asphalt The take up options considered (ie. use in
- Granular Sealed the total truck fleet), for road friendly
suspensions will be 20%, 50% and 80%.
d. Remaining Life, strength and/or
3.5 The effect of road friendly suspensions, in
3.3 Estimates for annualised load-attributed reducing dynamic road wear, as noted in
unit costs for rehabilitation for each sub- OECD lR2 Report, is expressed as a road
category are also being collected. Load wear reduction factor, by which ESA values
attributed costs are based on equivalent are divided. The reasoning being that
standard axles (E.S.A's), but not all current non RFS vehicles cause more
pavement costs are attributed to ESAs of (dynamic) wear than indicated by
loading, with for example E.S.A. related the nominal ESA's. If axle groups on RFS
costs assumed to be 50% of vehicles are allowed higher loads then the
rehabilitation costs (Martin, 1994). ESA's caused by these axles should be
discounted by their relative degree of
3.4 Loading Scenarios (used to calculate dynamic road friendliness. The factors to
ESA-Km's) are built up from the be used to divide the Road Friendly vehicle
following axle load limits (tonnes) ESA's are given in the following table:
Axle Group Tyre Type Damping & Load Sharing Road
Natural Friendly
Frequency Road Wear
Single Axle Single Tyres 1.1 1.1 I
Single Axle Dual Tyres 1.3 1.1 1.2
Tandem Axle on Dual Tyres 1.5 1.1 1.05 1.0 1.4
Prime Mover
Tandem Axle on Dual Tyres 1.4 1.1 1.05 1.0 1.3
Tandem Axle Dual &Single 1.2 1.1 1.05 1.0 1.1
Tn-Axle Dual Tyres 1.4 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.4

(Ref. Sweatman, 1994)

Paper 23, Page 2 NRTC Mass Limits Review - Pavements OECD DIVINE PROJECT
Mid-Term Seminar
Sydney, 2&3 Feburary 1995
4. PRELIMINARY RESULTS less road wear per axle than is currently allowed for a
steer axle. The R.F.S. Reduction Factor of 1.4 reduces
The analysis assumes that only those heavy ESA's for the group to 1.86 which would mean (in
vehicles with "road friendly suspensions" are theory) that a tandem axle with R.F.S. at 17.5t would
cause less road wear than those tandem groups with

allowed an increase in axle load limits.
non R.F.S's operating at current legal maximums.
Preliminary analysis of change in ESA kms has
been run on the inventory of one state only but The fri-axle group with dual tyres at 20t, i.e 6.67t/axle
from this the model suggests that for a fleet mix causes 3x0.46 E.S.A's (1.37 E.S.A's for the group). The
highest option considered for the tn-axle group is 24t,

with 20% R.F.S. vehicles operating at 17.5 t on
tandems and 24 t on fri-axles, i.e. approximately which causes a modest 3x0.93 E.S.A' even without
a 10% increase in payload, there may be less RFS. [An increase in load (and E.S.A's) for tn-axles is
than a 1% increase in E.S.A.-kms. If however, supported on road use efficiency grounds (ie. tonnes
the majority of heavy trucks were to have R.F.S. moved per E.S.A.). A tn-axle group at 20t moves 14.3
the higher mass limits, a small decrease in tonnes per E.S.A. of road wear and is by far the most

4 E.S.A-km could be expected (eg. if all heavy

trucks has R.F.S's a decrease in E.S.A-kms of
about 4% is predicted).
efficient axle group (eg. tandem axles at 16.5t move
8.25 tonnes per E.S.A)]. The wear effect of tn-axles at
24t with R.F.S's is reduced (in theory) by a factor of 1.4,
ie.to 3x0.66 E.S.A's. At 22t a tn-axle with R.F.S. would
(in theory) cause similar pavement wear to a non-R.F.S.
DISCUSSION tn-axle at 20t
One issue of public concern is that increased
limits will cause pavement "damage". 6. CONCLUSION

Using E.S.A's as a relative measure of road The tentative indications from the work on pavements

• wear and considering current national limits on a

per axle basis it is suggested that these could be
used to define acceptable limits of road wear
that are well short of loading where pavement
(as at December 1994) is that small increases in load
limits for axle groups with road friendly suspensions is
unlikely to have a significant effect on road pavement
maintenance or rehabilitation costs overall.
damage could be expected.
The central question for pavements appears to be the
The heaviest wear per axle is caused by the validity of the R.F.S., Road Wear Reduction Factors
steer axle at 6t, causing 1.5 E.S.A's. If this was (based on damping and natural frequency, and load
to be conservatively taken as an indicative sharing).
upper limit of acceptable road wear from a single
axle or an individual axle in any group then there Issues to be considered further include:
is scope for increasing loadings on multi axle
groups without any reasonable suggestion of the dynamic behaviour of trucks on road
J pavement damage. pavements of different roughness and at
different speeds;

The highest option considered for steer axles is the importance of suspensions relative to other
7t which increases the E.S.A's to 2.8 (4th power) factors that effect vehicle road friendliness (5),
or 8 (8th power) or 22.5 (12th power). An particularly tyre inflation pressure and control of
increasefor steer axles with normal tyres may (over) loading;
therefore be unlikely, particularly as no road
friendly reduction factor is applicable to single C. likely effects on concrete pavements; and
steer axles. An increase for wider profile single
I tyres is however a different proposition under
separate consideration.
d. how road roughness, particularly on bridge
approaches, influences the dynamic loading on
bridges. (The effects on bridges of increased

I The tandem axle group with dual tyres at 8.25

tonnes/axle causes 2x1 .0 E.S.A. (2.0 E.S.A's for
the group). The highest option considered for
axle group loading being of significant concern:
see the paper by Ray Wedgwood).

I the tandem axle group is 17.5t (8.75t/axle),

which would causes 2x1.3 E.S.A's with non
RFS. That is even without RFS there would be

OECD DIVINE PROJECT NRTC Mass Limits Review - Pavements Paper 23, Page 3
Mid-Term Seminar
Sydney, 2&3 Februaiy 1995
AUSTROADS/NRTC (1993) : Technical
Working Paper No.10, Methodology and
Data Needs to Assess Road and Bridge
Impacts of Higher Mass Limits for Road
Friendly Suspensions, Melbourne.

NAASRA (1976) : A Study of the

Economics of Road Vehicle Limits,

NAASRA (1984) : A Review of Road

Vehicle Limits, Sydney.

NRTC (1993): Technical Working Paper

No.9, Definition of Road-Friendly
Suspension Systems, Melbourne.

SWEATMAN (1993): Implementation of

Requirements for Road-Friendliness of
Heavy Vehicles; Report to the NRTC,

Paper 23, Page 4 NRTC Mass Limits Review - Pavements OECD DIVINE PROJECT
Mid-Teim Seminar
Sydney, 2&3 Feburaiy 1995