Development of a Master Plan for Calibration and Implementation of the M-E Design Guide

Arkansas currently designs pavements using the 1993 Edition of the AASHTO Guide for the Design of Pavement Structures. Procedures for new pavement design contained in the 1993 Guide have remained essentially unchanged since at least 1986. In many areas, these procedures represent the "original" procedures first published in the 1972 "interim" Guide. Recognizing the limitations of the AASHTO procedure (developed using pavement performance data gathered at the AASHO Road Test conducted in Ottowa, Illinois between 1958 and 1961), the AASHTO Joint Task Force on Pavements initiated research to develop a pavement design procedure based on engineering mechanics. National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 1-37a produced a mechanistic-empirical (M-E) pavement analysis system to be used for pavement design. The approach featured in the NCHRP 1-37a M-E Pavement Design Guide (hereinafter referred to as the MEPDG) uses principles of engineering mechanics to estimate stresses and strains induced in a given pavement structure; transfer functions relate these stresses and strains to estimates of pavement damage over time. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has invested significant research dollars in projects related to the MEPDG. A very necessary step towards putting the Guide to routine use is the preparation of a "master plan" for all activities related to implementation - pulling together all the pieces, knowledge, and experience attained thus far, plus identifying and planning for future required activities, such as local calibration for Arkansas. Such a Master Plan will ensure a smooth transition to a working Guide for AHTD.