Research Projects

Rapid Setting and Durable Concrete Overlays for Airfield Pavements

Concrete overlays are a growing trend in pavement maintenance and rehabilitation. Rapid-setting concrete overlays offer the potential or reopening aprons, taxiways and runways quickly. The viability and durability of rapid setting concrete overlays over asphalt or concrete airfield pavement should be evaluated and tested in order to provide airports and consultants with suitable practice guidelines.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Concrete overlays, both over asphalt and concrete, are a growing trend in pavement preservation and rehabilitation for freeways and bridgedecks nationwide. However, the experience at airports are somewhat limited as there are minimal reports and no official guidelines. Some airports and consultants may be reluctant to use concrete overlays because of the lack of experience and information. Given the aging pavement infrastructure in many airports, there is a need to evaluate the performance of concrete overlays in airfield pavement.
Furthermore, the continued rapidly rising air traffic, requires the evaluation of concrete overlays used in conjunction with rapid setting concrete materials. This technique may provide a much-needed solution for fast track pavement rehabilitation at some major airports where only short nighttime closures are available.
A few years ago, a concrete overlay over asphalt was successfully completed in an apron pavement section at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The results were successful, and the pavement sections are reportedly performing extremely well. As in the case at St. Louis Airport, an aging asphalt pavement section that is severely deteriorating and in need of increased structural capacity may be an ideal situation for concrete overlays.
At Dallas/Fort Worth Airport there are three original runways that were constructed in concrete for the airport opening in 1974, that are still in service. The over 40 year old pavements are showing signs of surface distress with joint spalling, popouts and scaling distress. However, the structural evaluation show the deflections under nondestructive testing devices indicate no pavement structural problems. The surface distresses can be fixed with a bonded concrete overlay and the pavement life could be extended another 40 years with a durable concrete.
The Virgina Department of Transportation uses fast setting calcium sulfoaluminate cement modified with latex. The CSA latex modified concrete is both rapid setting and the latex reduces the concrete permeability reducing corrosion and penetration of deicing chemicals.
The time component associated with pavement rehabilitation is another crucial factor. On certain sections of pavement such as critical sections of aprons or intersecting taxiway, there may not be enough time to construct a concrete overlay with conventional concrete materials. This growing need requires the investigation of concrete overlays with rapid setting concrete materials. Although the speed of full depth pavement replacement is steadily getting faster, the speed of a rapid setting concrete overlays should be, even faster. However, there are known durability issues with some fast setting concrete materials, so it is critical that the materials be adequately vetted for this application.
There have also been some studies on the durability of the concrete overlays in relation to its dimensional stability and shrinkage. A significant study is currently being investigated by the University of California Pavement Research Center on bonded concrete overlays over asphalt on freeways. Some rapid setting concrete materials were also tested in this research, and significant differences in the materials properties have been shown. Likewise, a similar research protocol may be useful to evaluate the concrete overlay material on airfield pavement design as well.
Overall, the viability and durability of rapid setting concrete overlays on airfield pavement needs to be evaluated. It would be a great asset to airports and consultants to have to information to help inform the best path forward for critical pavement sections with limited closure times.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

One objective of this research is to produce a report on the performance of concrete overlays on airfield pavement. The report should contain details on overlay design, mix designs, construction practices, and lessons learned. This report should provide some guidance to airports and airport consultants on whether concrete overlays are a viable option for their particular pavement situation.
Assuming that concrete overlays are effective, the second objective of this research is to investigate the use of rapid setting concrete materials in a concrete overlay design as a technique to provide fast track rehabilitation for airports. Various commercially available rapid setting materials should be tested. No one material or system will be chosen, as the report will list all available materials, materials properties, and relative and theoretical performance based upon the research.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)
  1. Literature review and information gathering.

  2. Interviews of airports and their project consultants of successful projects to document the project completed and the lessons learned

  3. Develop a report summarizing the experience of concrete overlays in airports.

  4. Literature review and information gathering on rapid setting concrete materials that are commercially available.

  5. Material's characterization of the rapid setting concrete materials.

a. Strength gain and chemical composition
b. Material shrinkage properties
c. Material Alkali Silica resistance properties
d. Concrete durability and load resistance

  1. Conduct field tests of the 3 most promising materials with instrumentation.

  2. Develop a preliminary report
    a. Submit for review to technical committee

  3. Develop a final technical report of testing

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

24 months $400,000.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

NCHRP 01-61: Evaluation of Bonded Concrete Overlays on Asphalt Pavements

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Idea No. 211