Characterisation of heavy traffic axle load spectra for mechanistic-empirical pavement design applications

Abubeker W. Ahmed*, Sigurdur Erlingsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy traffic axle load spectrum (ALS) is one of the key inputs for mechanistic-empirical analysis and design of pavement structures. Frequently, the entire ALS is aggregated into number of equivalent single axle loads or assumed to have constant contact area (CCA) or constant contact pressure. These characterisations affect the accuracy and computational performance of the pavement analysis. The objective of this study was to evaluate these characterisations based on predicted performances to rutting and fatigue cracking of several pavement structures subjected to ALS data collected from 12 bridge weigh in motion stations. The results indicated that for layers below the top 25 cm, all characterisations produced similar values of predicted rutting. However, for the top 25 cm, the methods differed in the predicted performances to rutting and fatigue cracking. Furthermore, an improvement to the CCA approach was proposed that enhanced the accuracy while maintaining the same level of computational performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-501
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Pavement Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Other keywords

  • axle load spectra
  • fatigue cracking
  • mechanistic-empirical design
  • performance models
  • rutting


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