Temperature and Precipitation Impacts to Pavements on Expansive Soils: Proposed State Highway 170 in North Texas

This is one of nine engineering case studies conducted under the Transportation Engineering Approaches to Climate Resiliency (TEACR) Project. This case study focuses on the impacts of changes in temperature and precipitation on pavements constructed over expansive soils. This study considers flexible and rigid pavement designs for State Highway 170 (SH-170), a proposed new highway in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The study area is known for the presence of expansive clay soils that are highly sensitive to fluctuations in moisture (i.e., they swell when wet and shrink when dry). Pavements constructed on expansive soils are generally more susceptible to significant loss in smoothness, whether heavily trafficked or not, due to wet and dry seasonal cycles. Furthermore, the expansive behavior of clays in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, combined with the systematic effects of climate change, may significantly affect future pavement performance. The objective of this case study is to investigate how considerable variations in precipitation and temperature due to climate change may affect the performance of flexible and rigid pavements on expansive soils and investigate options to mitigate the risk and adapt to climate changes. The pavement performance was estimated using mechanistic-empirical pavement performance prediction models and was evaluated against future projections of temperature and precipitation. It was found that there will be a steady increase in ambient temperature and aridity over the course of the 21st century. These trends will result in a modest increase in pavement distresses. The primary lesson learned from this case study is the need to monitor changes in climate trends, and to periodically re-evaluate all future design decisions using the newly available climate information.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 65p
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01663169
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-HEP-17-018
  • Created Date: Mar 20 2018 5:09PM