Evaluation of Concrete Pavement Buckling in Wisconsin

Buckling (i.e., blowup) in concrete pavement is caused by axial compression forces induced into the pavement by a rise in temperature and moisture1. It is a localized upward slab movement leading to the shattering of joints and cracks. It typically occurs in hot weather, usually at transverse joints that are not properly designed to allow for slab expansion. The insufficient joint widths are usually caused by the infiltration of incompressible material into the joint space and cracks. As the thermal expansion coefficient is dependent on moisture, moisture content is also an important factor for forensic studies of buckling. Because buckling incidents on concrete pavement immediately impact traffic flow and public safety, it requires urgent, costly, and time-consuming emergency repairs (i.e., full-depth repair) with full or partial lane closures. In 2018, there were 73 cases of buckling events in the State of Wisconsin. An unusually high number of buckling events have occurred in only a few locations. For example, there were multiple buckling events on USH-10 and I-39 near Stevens Point and on STH 29 just North of Eau Claire in 2017 and 2018. Buckling also occurred in newer concrete pavements as well. This study will investigate past buckling incidents and disclose the mechanism of buckling in Wisconsin. The researchers will thoroughly inspect roadway conditions adjacent to the buckling, including historical pavement surface conditions, joint condition, roadway geometry, and surface and subsurface drainage systems. The researchers will take pavement cores and investigate air voids, coefficient of thermal expansion and joint width and performance, and visit incident sites to reveal key mechanisms and controlling parameters behind the buckling incidents. This research will also critically review concrete pavement mixture design practices and pavement construction methodologies to recommend changes with the aim of reducing future buckling events. The objectives of this study are to (a) investigate buckling of concrete pavements in Wisconsin roadways, (b) reveal the key mechanisms for buckling in Wisconsin with forensic studies, and (c) identify innovative methods to mitigate buckling incidents and associated costs.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $200000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation

    4802 Sheboygan Avenue
    Madison, WI  United States  53707
  • Project Managers:

    Hayes, Chad

  • Performing Organizations:

    Applied Research Associates, Inc.

    100 Trade Centre Drive, Ste 200
    Champaign, IL  United States  61820-7233
  • Principal Investigators:

    Rao, Shreenath

  • Start Date: 20191001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20211001
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01722039
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 0092-20-02
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Nov 11 2019 5:18PM