Literature Search on Use of Flexible Pipes in Highway Engineering for DOTD’s Needs
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Literature Search on Use of Flexible Pipes in Highway Engineering for DOTD’s Needs

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    Final Report, 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020
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    Drainage in Louisiana transportation projects are critical components in pavement infrastructure and are typically addressed using rigid concrete pipes. Plastic pipes include many various polymer-based materials, e.g., high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polypropylene (PP). A long-term track record of rigid concrete pipe performance is available to DOTD, but limited information is available on plastic pipes. A better understanding of the applications, limitations, and advantages of plastic pipes can help DOTD facilitate the design, construction, and maintenance of pavement infrastructure beyond traditional methods. As a result, the research objective of this study was to determine where, when, and how DOTD can use plastic pipes. The long-term goal is to include plastic pipes into the DOTD materials specifications such that it is an option for engineers, designers, and contractors. DOTD specifications provide guidance for the appropriate implementation of thermoplastic pipes used for cross drains, side drains, and storm drains that follows the state-of-practice. A 70-year design life can be used for highways ordinarily requiring 50-year design life if the fill height on the cross drain is greater than 10 ft. Florida DOT has implemented a 100-year design life for polypropylene pipe if the extensive requirements in their specifications are met, which are based on slow crack growth resistance — 2 — testing and tests to verify that the anti-oxidant package would last longer than the desired design life. In addition, FDOT has also implemented similar testing for a 100-year design life HDPE pipe. Other states, such as Texas, Kansas, and Minnesota, also permit PP to be used in cross-drain applications but they impose ADT limits (Texas < 2000, Kansas < 3000, and Minnesota < 5000). As a result, the outcome of this survey of other state agencies indicates that PP pipe can be used in Louisiana as outlined in the next version of EDSM guidelines (in preparation), where PP is allowed to replace corrugated polyethylene pipe double wall (CPEPDW). CPEPDW is currently used for cross drain (service life of 50 years) and side drains (service life 30 years except for bridge drains that are 50 years), where the traffic volume is less than 3,000. If a longer service life is considered, the testing protocol should follow Florida DOT because it uses stress crack resistance and antioxidant depletion for evaluating long-term performance. Field performance documentation is also necessary to substantiate post-installation and long-term performance. This will provide feedback to the design engineers at DOTD on performance. In particular, for all the considered plastic material pipes, the design deflection value is lower than the allowable when using the initial modulus of pipe material. When using the long-term modulus value, the deflection increases towards the limits of compressive strain for both HDPE and PP pipes. These design values and calculations can help to grasp how the different pipe materials might perform in practice, but experimental (field and laboratory) data is advised.
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