Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, operations - performance, infrastructure - vehicle, organisation - performance, mode - rail


Wheel rail interaction, Vehicle road interface, Vehicle dynamics, Unevenness, Traffic equivalence factor, Tire pavement interface, Three dimensional, Thickness, Suspension systems, Surface roughness, Serviceability Index, Serviceability, Service life, Roughness, Rolling contact, Repeated loads, Pavements, Pavement thickness, Pavement performance, Pavement life, Nonlinear systems, Mechanistic design, Mechanical analysis, Mathematical models, Material separation, Flexible pavements, Finite element method, Finite element analysis, Fatigue failure, Failure, Equivalent weight, Equivalent single axle loads, Equivalency ratio, Equivalency factors, Dynamic response, Dynamic loads, Dynamic force, Design life, Cyclic loads, Axle loads


A concept for a mechanistic-based performance model for flexible pavement was developed that considers the interaction between vehicles and pavement. A dynamic vehicle model was used to estimate the dynamic wheel force, and a three-dimensional finite element nonlinear dynamic pavement model was used to determine the dynamic pavement response. The effect of pavement roughness on vehicle bouncing and the effect of vehicle bouncing on the progression of pavement roughness were investigated under different roughness levels, suspension types, and layer thicknesses. The increase in roughness after each load repetition can be calculated using basic material properties from which the pavement service life can be estimated. The number of equivalent 80-kN single axle load repetitions to failure was estimated under different conditions without the need for empirical observations. It was found that the number of load repetitions to go from one level of present serviceability index (PSI) to the next largely decreases as the PSI level decreases. The air bag suspension results in the longest pavement life, while the walking beam suspension results in the shortest pavement life. The total number of load repetitions to reach failure for thick pavement sections is 14% higher than that for medium-thick sections, and 63% greater than that for thin sections. The reverse of this analysis can be used to design the pavement section so that it would sustain a certain number of load repetitions before failure using a mechanistic procedure. The proposed concept for a mechanistic-based performance model developed in this study can be refined to increase the mechanistic portion of the model, reduce empirical involvement, and improve computational procedure.