Airports & Highways

Pavement Design Engineer:
Michael Davy
321-432-1489
email: mdavy@rinker.com

Portland Cement Concrete Highways & Airports

History
Concrete pavements have been the product of choice for strong, durable pavements in the US since the earliest of paving projects recorded. From the "first" concrete pavement highway project in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1891 to today's super highways and airports, owners and designers have chosen concrete when a high strength, long lasting pavement is desired.

The increase in demand and production for automobiles in the early 20th century, and the impact these new vehicles were having on the unpaved roadways of the US, prompted the enactment of the 1916 Federal Highway Act. At this time, the main intent for paving a roadway was to keep the subgrade beneath it from deforming to the point of rendering it impassable.

By the late 1920's, engineers built on their experience with concrete pavements on roadways by designing the first concrete airport runways. Early airport runways were designed at 6" to 7" thick sections, thicker on the outside edges. The introduction of heavier planes during World War II drove designers to increase runway thickness to 12" and up to 27", along with the introduction of doweled slabs to prevent their movement under heavy loads.

Pavement Design: Rigid vs. Flexible
Just as in those early days, today's highway engineers consider subgrade deterioration a critical factor in the performance and ride quality of a facility. The choice between Rigid Pavement Design (Portland Cement Concrete Pavement) and Flexible Pavement Design (Asphalt Pavement) is key in determining the impact that vehicular traffic will have on the subgrade beneath it, which in turn will have an effect on the lifespan of the pavement.

Slabs in a Portland Cement Concrete Pavement spread traffic loads over a large area and keep pressures on the subgrade low. Loads on asphalt are transferred in a more concentrated manner, thus increasing the deterioration of the subgrade and base layers beneath it.

Types of Portland
Concrete Pavement

Concrete pavement design is the best solution for all types of projects, from new construction of pavements to retrofitting existing ones.

Construction of a new highway or runway would require the use of full depth concrete pavement design. There are three types of full depth concrete pavements:

  • Jointed Plain Concrete Pavements (JPCP):
    Undoweled JPCP rely on aggregate interlock for load transfer from one side of the joint to the other. Joints are designed at shorter intervals. Doweled JPCP use dowl baskets, placed at joints to provide additional load transfer.
  • Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavements (JRCP):
    Deformed steel bars are used between joints. Joints are spaced farther from each other. Dowel baskets are used to increase load transfer at joints.
  • Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavements (CRCP):
    Continuous single or double mats of steel reinforcing bars are used throughout to add tensile properties to the concrete.

Rehabilitation of an existing facility may be accomplished by demolition of the existing structure and construction of a new, full depth concrete pavement. An alternative to full depth concrete pavement is to mill the existing pavement and increase its capacity by placing a concrete overlay over it. This alternative is called Whitetopping.

I-95 in Miami

I-95 in Miami:
Originally built in 1963, first rehab in 1984, second rehab in 1999

I-4 Polk County

I-4 Polk County:
Built over 40 years ago, no rehab required to date

Concrete pavements are a key element of the









Concrete pavements are a key element of the "Cool Communities Movement"; concrete surfaces can be 30F to 70F cooler than asphalt surfaces

Concrete is easier to see from the sky









Concrete is easier to see from the sky and grabs an airplane's wheels better on landing

There is little need to close concrete runways for maintenance and repair

With a design life of up to 40 years, there's little need to close concrete runways for maintenance and repair


Concrete Pavement
in Florida's Highways

  • I-95 Miami: Originally built in 1963, first rehab in 1984, second rehab in 1999.
  • I-4 Polk County: Built over 40 years ago, no rehab required to date.
  • SR 98 Lakeland: Built over 60 years ago, first rehab in 1999.
  • US 17 Deland: Built over 60 years ago, minimal maintenance to date.
  • SR 228: Over 65 years old, no rehab to date.

Benefits of Concrete Pavement Highways & Airports

  • Strength & Durability: Concrete pavements withstand heavier loads with minimal deformation. Unlike asphalt pavements, concrete pavements do not react or deteriorate with petroleum products, and their strength is not reduced by heat and moisture. Concrete pavements are more durable even under extreme element conditions such as flooding, hurricanes and fires.
  • Cooler Environment: Concrete pavements are a key element of the "Cool Communities Movement"; concrete surfaces can be 30F to 70F cooler than asphalt surfaces. Use of concrete pavements reduces ground level ozone, VOC emissions and the Urban Heat Island Effect.
  • Life Cycle Cost: Long-term costs to maintain concrete pavements are typically lower than the costs associated wiht periodical resurfacing required to maintain asphalt pavements.

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