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Flexible Pavements Design as per IRC 37-2001
Design traffic 
The method considers traffic in terms of the cumulative number of standard axles (8160kg) to be carried by the pavement during the design life. This requires the following information:
1. Initial traffic in terms of CVPD
2. Traffic growth rate during the design life
3. Design life in number of years
4. Vehicle damage factor (VDF)
5. Distribution of commercial traffic over the carriage way.

Initial traffic 
Initial traffic is determined in terms of commercial vehicles per day (CVPD). For the structural design of the pavement only commercial vehicles are considered assuming laden weight of three tonnes or more and their axle loading will be considered. Estimate of the initial daily average traffic flow for any road should normally be based on 7-day 24-hour classified traffic counts (ADT). In case of new roads, traffic estimates can be made on the basis of potential land use and traffic on existing routes in the area. 

Traffic growth rate 
Traffic growth rates can be estimated (i) by studying the past trends of traffic growth, and (ii) by establishing econometric models. If adequate data is not available, it is recommended that an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent may be adopted.

Design life
For the purpose of the pavement design, the design life is defined in terms of the cumulative number of standard axles that can be carried before strengthening of the pavement is necessary. It is recommended that pavements for arterial roads like NH, SH should be designed for a life of 15 years, EH and urban roads for 20 years and other categories of roads for 10 to 15 years.

Vehicle Damage Factor 
The vehicle damage factor (VDF) is a multiplier for converting the number of commercial vehicles of different axle loads and axle configurations to the number of standard axle-load repetitions. It is defined as equivalent number of standard axles per commercial vehicle. The VDF varies with the axle configuration, axle loading, terrain, type of road, and from region to region. The axle load equivalency factors are used to convert different axle load repetitions into equivalent standard axle load repetitions. For these equivalency factors refer IRC:37 2001. The exact VDF values are arrived after extensive field surveys.

Vehicle distribution 
A realistic assessment of distribution of commercial traffic by direction and by lane is necessary as it directly affects the total equivalent standard axle load application used in the design. Until reliable data is available, the following distribution may be assumed.

• Single lane roads: Traffic tends to be more channelized on single roads than two lane roads and to allow for this concentration of wheel load repetitions, the design should be based on total number of commercial vehicles in both directions.
• Two-lane single carriageway roads: The design should be based on 75 % of the commercial vehicles in both directions.
• Four-lane single carriageway roads: The design should be based on 40 % of the total number of commercial vehicles in both directions.
• Dual carriageway roads: For the design of dual two-lane carriageway roads should be based on 75 % of the number of commercial vehicles in each direction. For dual three-lane carriageway and dual four-lane carriageway the distribution factor will be 60 % and 45 % respectively.

Pavement thickness design charts 
For the design of pavements to carry traffic in the range of 1 to 10 msa, use chart 1 and for traffic in the range 10 to 150 msa, use chart 2 of IRC:37 2001. The design curves relate pavement thickness to the cumulative number of standard axles to be carried over the design life for different sub-grade CBR values ranging from 2 % to 10 %. The design charts will give the total thickness of the pavement for the above inputs. The total thickness consists of granular sub-base, granular base and bituminous surfacing.

Pavement composition 
Sub-base Sub-base materials comprise natural sand, gravel, laterite, brick metal, crushed stone or combinations thereof meeting the prescribed grading and physical requirements. The subbase material should have a minimum CBR of 20 % and 30 % for traffic upto 2 msa and traffic exceeding 2 msa respectively. Sub-base usually consist of granular or WBM and the thickness should not be less than 150 mm for design traffic less than 10 msa and 200 mm for design traffic of 1:0 msa and above.

Base 
The recommended designs are for unbounded granular bases which comprise conventional water bound macadam (WBM) or wet mix macadam (WMM) or equivalent confirming to MOST specifications. The materials should be of good quality with minimum thickness of 225 mm for traffic up to 2 msa an 150 mm for traffic exceeding 2 msa. The surfacing consists of a wearing course or a binder course plus wearing course. The most commonly used wearing courses are surface dressing, open graded premix carpet, mix seal surfacing, semi-dense bituminous concrete and bituminous concrete. For binder course, MOST specifies, it is desirable to use bituminous macadam (BM) for traffic upto 5 msa and dense bituminous macadam (DBM) for traffic more than 5 msa.
 

Causes of Pavement Deterioration
(i)Sudden increase in traffic loading especially on new roads where the design is based on lesser traffic is a major cause of cracking. After construction of good road, traffic of other roads also shifts to that road. This accelerates the fatigue failure (Alligator Cracking).
(ii)Temperature variation ranging from 50º C to below zero conditions in the plain areas of North and Central India leads to bleeding and cracking.
(iii)Provision of poor shoulders leads to edge failures.
(iv)Provision of poor clayey subgrade results in corrugation at the surface and increase in unevenness.
(v)Poor drainage conditions especially during rainy seasons, force the water to enter the pavement from the sides as well as from the top surface. In case of open graded bituminous layer, this phenomenon becomes more dangerous and the top layer gets detached from the lower layers.
(vi) If the temperature of bitumen/bituminous mixes is not maintained properly, then it also leads to pavement failure. Over heating of bitumen reduces the binding property of bitu men. If the temperature of bituminous mix has been lowered down then the compaction will not be proper leading to longitudinal corrugations.

The document Design of Flexible Pavements as Per IRC 37-2001 | Transportation Engineering - Civil Engineering (CE) is a part of the Civil Engineering (CE) Course Transportation Engineering.
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FAQs on Design of Flexible Pavements as Per IRC 37-2001 - Transportation Engineering - Civil Engineering (CE)

1. What are flexible pavements?
Ans. Flexible pavements are road surfaces made up of multiple layers of materials, including bitumen and aggregates. These pavements are designed to distribute the traffic loads and provide a smooth and comfortable ride for vehicles.
2. What is the significance of designing flexible pavements as per IRC 37-2001?
Ans. IRC 37-2001 is the Indian Road Congress code that provides guidelines for the design of flexible pavements. Following this code ensures that the pavements are designed to withstand the anticipated traffic loads, climatic conditions, and soil characteristics, resulting in durable and safe road infrastructure.
3. What factors are considered in the design of flexible pavements?
Ans. The design of flexible pavements takes into account several factors, including traffic volume, type and weight of vehicles, subgrade soil properties, climate, and pavement materials. These factors influence the thickness and composition of different pavement layers to ensure their structural integrity.
4. How is the thickness of each layer determined in flexible pavement design?
Ans. The thickness of each layer in flexible pavement design is determined using empirical design methods, such as the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) method. This method considers the strength of the subgrade soil, traffic volume, and type of vehicles to calculate the required thickness for each layer, such as the subgrade, base, and wearing course.
5. What are the advantages of using flexible pavements?
Ans. Flexible pavements offer several advantages, including cost-effectiveness, good riding comfort, easy maintenance, and the ability to withstand heavy traffic loads and climate-induced movements. Additionally, they can be constructed relatively quickly, minimizing disruption to traffic flow during construction or repairs.
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