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MnDOT LRRB Alternate Design Methods to Renew Lightly Traveled Paved Roads


Principal investigators:

Project status


Start date: 06/23/14
End date: 08/31/15


Report: Alternate Design Methods to Renew Lightly Traveled Paved Roads (NA pdf) March 2016


Sponsor(s): Minnesota Department of Transportation

About the research


Minnesota’s local highway agencies are tasked with maintaining their low-volume road networks with available financial resources, prompting increased interest in lower-cost pavement rehabilitation alternatives. In-place cold recycling technologies, such as cold in-place recycling (CIR) and full-depth reclamation (FDR), provide lower-cost opportunities to renew deteriorated roads than traditional rehabilitation methods, particularly if surfaced with a thin surface treatment such as a chip seal (seal coat) or microsurfacing rather than hot-mix asphalt. However, the resulting road surface may not meet some road users’ expectations.

This study investigated the performance and economics of four pavement rehabilitation alternatives involving recycling technologies. The alternatives included CIR and FDR treatments with either an asphalt overlay or thin surface treatment. Fifteen case study sections in Minnesota and neighboring states were selected for performance evaluation and lifecycle cost analysis (LCCA).

Pavement condition surveys were performed to evaluate the study sections’ pavement distresses and roughness. The results indicated satisfactory performance for fourteen sections, while a CIR section with a chip seal surface using quartzite as cover aggregate had extensive transverse cracking. The cause of the distress is not clear.

The LCCA results indicate a 14% to 42% lower lifecycle cost for CIR and FDR treatments with chip seal surfaces. Costs savings may be achieved if asphalt overlay thicknesses are reduced, though chip seal surfaces may be rougher and nosier and require more maintenance than asphalt overlays. A decision tree was developed to aid local agencies during the treatment selection process.