Bearing capacity changes over the year, depending on the water content in a pavement structure: the higher the water content, the lower the bearing capacity. As expected, the highest water content in a pavement structure is observed in the early spring as the ice lenses melt. Thus, spring is a critical period for pavement performance, because a decrease in bearing capacity results in faster pavement deterioration. The bearing capacity of pavement structures with an unbound base course and the negative effect of spring thawing on pavement performance have been analyzed by a considerable number of researchers. However, very little is known about the bearing capacity of pavement structures with a cold-recycled base course despite the significantly increasing usage of cold-recycled mixtures. This paper focuses on the bearing capacity of both unbound and cold central-plant recycled base courses at different seasons and their stability. A cold central-plant recycled (CCPR) base course was constructed from a mixture of 38.8% reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), 3.1% foamed bitumen and 2.3% cement. A virgin aggregate was added to achieve desirable aggregate gradation. The bearing capacity of the unbound and CCPR base layers, as well as the whole pavement structure, was evaluated by back-calculated E moduli from falling weight deflectometer (FWD) data. In addition to this, the residual pavement life was calculated using mechanistic-empirical pavement design principles. The results showed that the durability of pavement structures with a CCPR base course is more than seven times lower compared to that of pavement structures with an unbound base course, irrespective of season. Nevertheless, the bearing capacity (surface modulus E0) of the pavement structure with a CCPR base course gradually increases due to the curing processes of bituminous and hydraulic binders (in this study, within four years of operation, it increased by 28–47%, depending on the side of the road).
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited