Investigation of Early Cracking on Selected JPCP Projects
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Investigation of Early Cracking on Selected JPCP Projects

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    From 1995 through 2000 the department constructed 15 pavement reconstruction projects, totaling 282 lane miles, with jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP). Five of those projects developed mid-slab transverse cracking shortly after construction. The extent and severity of the cracking among those projects are highly variable. The primary purpose of this research study was to determine any obvious causes for the cracking that may be related to design, construction, or material related factors without conducting a complete forensic analysis. Secondary objectives were to recommend needed specification changes, follow-up research, and weigh the feasibility of using preventive maintenance treatments to extend the service life of the cracked pavements. For three of the five distressed projects, the investigation found that poor construction practices were the primary cause for the slab cracking. For the two others with a greater extent of mid-slab cracking, the cracks initiated top down from a loss of slab support at the transverse joints when the slab corners are upward curled. A “built-in” positive temperature differential condition was found with these projects that accentuate the time and magnitude of the slab uplift, as these two projects far exceed the temporary loss of support from normal temperature curling. In addition, concrete properties and slab length contributed to their mid-slab fatigue cracking. Several types of multi axle trucks have axle configurations that match the joint spacing, causing simultaneous joint loading, which prevents slab rotation to relieve the impact force. Several recommendations to prevent slab cracking are given, plus needed research to better holistically understand the cracking phenomenon.
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