The fundamentals of rutting behavior for thin full-depth flexible pavements (i.e., asphalt thickness less than 12 inches) are investigated in this study. The scope incorporates an experimental study using full-scale Accelerated Pavement Tests (APTs) to monitor the evolution of each pavement structural layer's transverse profiles. The findings were then employed to verify the local rutting model coefficients used in the current pavement design method, the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG). Four APT sections were constructed using two thin typical pavement structures (seven-and ten-inches thick) and two types of surface course material (dense-graded and SMA). A mid-depth rut monitoring and automated laser profile systems were designed to reconstruct the transverse profiles at each pavement layer interface throughout the process of accelerated pavement deterioration that is produced during the APT. The contributions of each pavement structural layer to rutting and the evolution of layer deformation were derived. This study found that the permanent deformation within full-depth asphalt concrete significantly depends upon the pavement thickness. However, once the pavement reaches sufficient thickness (more than 12.5 inches), increasing the thickness does not significantly affect the permanent deformation. Additionally, for thin full-depth asphalt pavements with a dense-graded Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) surface course, most pavement rutting is caused by the deformation of the asphalt concrete, with about half the rutting amount observed within the top four inches of the pavement layers. However, for thin full-depth asphalt pavements with an SMA surface course, most pavement rutting comes from the closet sublayer to the surface, i.e., the intermediate layer. The accuracy of the MEPDG’s prediction models for thin full-depth asphalt pavement was evaluated using some statistical parameters, including bias, the sum of squared error, and the standard error of estimates between the predicted and actual measurements. Based on the statistical analysis (at the 95% confidence level), no significant difference was found between the version 2.3-predicted and measured rutting of total asphalt concrete layer and subgrade for thick and thin pavements.

Report Number



MEPDG, rutting performance model, accelerated pavement testing, rutting distribution

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

Date of this Version