The Superpave system for hot mix asphalt (HMA) design was introduced in 1995 and adopted throughout most of the USA by 2000. This system uses performance-oriented approach to materials selection and mix design, and takes into account the local environmental and traffic conditions. It recognizes that the behavior of HMA depends on the temperature, loading and aging conditions and provides tools (in the form of materials selection and performance-related tests) that should help to protect pavements against low-temperature cracking, rutting and fatigue cracking. This report summarizes the field and laboratory studies conducted to investigate the influence of asphalt binder grade on the field performance of HMA pavements. In particular, the effect of binder grade on low temperature cracking and on permanent deformation (rutting) of pavement was investigated. In addition, the validity of some of the existing low-temperature models for assessing the susceptibility of a given binder to low temperature cracking is also analyzed. The study involved construction and field evaluation of six test sections on the interstate I-70, east of Indianapolis, Indiana. Four of the six sections contained various SUPERPAVE binder grades, one of the sections was constructed using traditional Marshal mix design, and one of the sections contained 15% of recycled asphalt concrete (RAP). The monitoring of performance of the test sections involved periodical distress surveys and collection of field cores for laboratory testing of volumetric, binder and aggregate properties. In addition, the original binders and plant mix samples were also evaluated. The results of this test program indicate that, in general, the binder grade does influence the field performance of HMA and that susceptibility to failure of a given material can (in many cases) be predicted from the laboratory test results. Particularly good correlation between the laboratory-based data and field performance was observed for low-temperature binder tests, indicating that these tests can reliably predict the critical cracking temperature of the pavement. On the other hand, the test results also confirmed that low-temperature prediction algorithms proposed in the original Superpave specifications were too conservative, for the environmental conditions present at the test site.

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low temperature cracking, rutting, recovered binders, critical cracking temperature, distress survey, weather station, Superpave performance tests, binder and mixture properties, SPR-2148

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Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

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