How to Calculate Quantity of Asphalt in Road Engineering Durable Asphalt Pavements

Properly designing asphalt pavements requires analyzing expected traffic loads, materials characteristics, construction methods, and maintenance needs. This guide covers key considerations for optimizing asphalt pavement performance. To calculate the quantity of asphalt in road engineering durable asphalt pavements you should understand these concepts.

Matching Pavement Strength to Traffic Loads

Vehicle weight and volume drive structural design. Classify from residential to heavy industrial:

  • Light traffic – passenger cars only
  • Medium traffic – delivery trucks, buses
  • Heavy traffic – multi-axle tractor-trailers

Convert to equivalent single axle loads (ESALs). More ESALs need increased thickness.

Why it is important to Convert to equivalent single axle loads (ESALs)

It is important to convert traffic loads into equivalent single axle loads (ESALs) because it allows pavement engineers to measure the effects of axle loads on pavement. ESALs convert the effect of mixed axle load applications into the equivalent number of applications of an 18,000 lb single axle that would be required to produce the same amount of pavement distress. By convention, an 18,000 lb (80 kN) single axle load is used as a standard. The total projected ESALs during the pavement design life are then converted into a Traffic Index (TI) that is used to determine the minimum pavement thickness. More ESALs require increased thickness because the strength of the pavement required increases with more ESALs. Therefore, converting traffic loads into ESALs is an important step in designing pavement structures that can withstand the expected traffic loads over their design life.

Here is the formula: ESALs = (Load Magnitude × Load Repetitions) / Structural Coefficient

You can use our ESAL calculator to get the Traffic Load Equivalency Factor

Axle load equivalency factors for flexible pavements

  • Axle load equivalency factors (ALEFs) for flexible pavements are used to convert the effects of various axle loads into equivalent single axle loads (ESALs)
  • These factors represent the relative damage caused by different axle loads on the pavement structure
  • The ALEFs can vary depending on factors such as pavement type and thickness

In my experience, Here are some examples of ALEFs for flexible pavements:

Single axle:

  • 8.9 kN (2,000 lbs)
  • 44.5 kN (10,000 lbs)
  • 62.3 kN (14,000 lbs)
  • 80.0 kN (18,000 lbs)
  • 89.0 kN (20,000 lbs)
  • 133.4 kN (30,000 lbs)
  • Dual tire axle: 18 kips (32 kN)
  • Tandem axle group: 32 kips (57 kN)
  • Tridem axle group: 48 kips (85 kN)
  • 4 or more axle groups: 48 kips (85 kN)

The use of ALEFs and ESALs allows pavement engineers to estimate the cumulative traffic load on a pavement structure, taking into account the mix of different axle loads and configurations. Now Let’s move forward to the Design Aspect of Quantity calculation of Asphalt in Road construction.

Structural Layer Design

Layer thicknesses are engineered to support loads without cracking or rutting:

  • Surface course – durable friction layer
  • Binder course – structural strength
  • Base-reinforced support layer
  • Subbase – drainage, frost protection

Thicker courses are needed for heavier traffic. Use mechanics-based analysis.

Optimized Asphalt Mix Design

The components of the asphalt concrete mix must be engineered for both short-term constructability and long-term durability:

  • Aggregate Gradation – A blend of stone sizes provides a stable structure. The gradation balance influences workability, voids, and strength.
  • Asphalt Binder – The grade or performance rating must withstand climate extremes over time. Modified binders enhance properties.
  • Mixture Proportions – The relative amounts of aggregates, binders, and air voids in the mix must be optimized through lab testing.

Typical asphalt mix design objectives include:

  • 4-8% air voids in compacted mix
  • Sufficient workability for placement and finishing
  • Resistance to moisture damage and stripping
  • Durability over the range of service temperatures
  • Stability under heavy loads without rutting

Following established mix design procedures and validation through trial batches ensures specifications are met.

Quality Construction and Compaction

Adequate compaction is vital for achieving designed density and strength:

  • Target 92-97% density specification depending on the layer
  • Monitor density routinely via core samples and gauges
  • Breakdown, intermediate, and finish rolling patterns
  • Adequate overlapping coverage for uniformity
  • Sufficient roller weights and vibration for mix and layer thickness

Proper compaction makes asphalt better able to withstand traffic stresses and damage over time.

Effective Drainage System

Controlling water is vital to long-term pavement integrity:

  • 1.5-2% cross slope for surface runoff
  • Edge drain trenches and daylight pipes as needed
  • Permeable base layer composition for subsurface flow
  • Underdrains if groundwater saturation risk

Table: Common Asphalt Pavement Drainage Solutions

Issue Prevention Strategy
Surface ponding Slopes, crowns, flatter grades
Edge erosion Granular shoulders, slope rounding
Stripping/Saturation Open-graded permeable bases, impermeable barriers
Frost heave Deep subbase below the frost line


Timely Maintenance and Repairs

Catching issues early preserves integrity longer:

  • Crack filling, patching at first signs
  • Sealcoats every 2-3 years
  • Surface renewal like micro-surfacing on schedule
  • Mill and overlays or reconstruction as needed

Plan rehabilitation timing based on road network priorities, budgets, and condition assessments.

Key Takeaways

  • Properly designing asphalt pavements is a complex balancing act – but worth the investment.
  • Don’t cut corners on foundational steps like traffic analysis, drainage considerations, materials optimization, and construction quality.
  • Little things like inadequate compaction or poorly bonded layers can lead to big failures down the road.
  • Be proactive with preventive maintenance for the most cost-effective long-term performance.
  • Partner with an experienced engineer or contractor to leverage proven best practices for your specific conditions.

Last Words

Quality asphalt pavement design sets the stage for years of smooth, safe performance you can rely on. The upfront effort in engineering and construction keeps rework, closures, and maintenance costs down throughout the service life.

While the calculations and construction can seem complex at first glance, experienced professionals have time-tested systems to handle the intricacies. Partnering with the right people makes the process straightforward.

For critical road and infrastructure projects, the investment made in designing durable asphalt pavements protects taxpayer dollars for maximum return. The true cost comes from deferring maintenance or using inadequate materials and methods – don’t resort to quick fixes. Think long-term.

With sound engineering, quality construction, and proactive maintenance, flexible asphalt pavements provide the foundation to keep people and commerce flowing smoothly for decades. Let’s work together to build infrastructure made to last!

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I'm Steve Axton, a dedicated Asphalt Construction Manager with over 25 years of experience paving the future of infrastructure. My journey with asphalt began by studying civil engineering and learning about core pavement materials like aggregate, binder and additives that compose this durable and versatile substance. I gained hands-on experience with production processes including refining, mixing and transporting during my internships, which opened my eyes to real-world uses on roads, driveways and parking lots. Over the past decades, I have deepened my expertise in asphalt properties like viscosity, permeability and testing procedures like Marshall stability and abrasion. My time with respected construction companies has honed my skills in paving techniques like milling, compaction and curing as well as maintenance activities like crack filling, resurfacing and recycling methods. I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained about standards from Superpave to sustainability best practices that balance longevity, cost and environmental friendliness. It's been an incredibly rewarding career working with this complex material to build the infrastructure future.

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