Innovations in Prestressed Concrete Pavement


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Title: Innovations in Prestressed Concrete Pavement

Author(s): D.K. Merritt and B.F. McCullough

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 231


Appears on pages(s): 181-198

Keywords: post-tensioned pavement; precast pavement; prestressedpavement

Date: 10/1/2005

Prestressed pavement is perhaps one of the most important yet underusedinnovations in prestressed concrete in the past century. Generally in the form of post-tensioning, prestress significantly reduces the required slab thickness and greatlyimproves pavement performance by reducing the occurrence of cracking. While thefirst reported use of prestressed concrete for pavements occurred in the late 1930s andearly 1940s in Missouri, Michigan, and Maryland, the prestressing techniques commonto today’s practices were first used in the 1940s in France. Domestic applicationsfollowed in 1953 at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station. In 1971, theFederal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiated a new series of demonstration projectsat Dulles International Airport; Hogestown, Pennsylvania; Brookhaven, Mississippi; andTempe, Arizona. Later, in 1985, research at The University of Texas at Austin led theconstruction of a one-mile test section on Interstate 35 near Waco, Texas, which is stillin excellent condition after 20 years. Despite the success of these and other morerecent projects, prestressed pavement is still not widely used. New FHWAdemonstration projects, however, are currently applying prestressed pavementtechnology to precast concrete pavement construction. Recent projects in Texas andCalifornia have demonstrated the viability of prestressed precast pavements for notonly improving performance and reducing slab thickness, but also for expeditingpavement construction.