Evaluating Climate Change Impact on Low-Volume Roads in Southern Canada Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Information extracted from global climate models suggests that average temperatures and annual precipitation will increase over the next several decades, with potential implications for pavement performance and design. With Canadian data from the Long-Term Pavement Performance program, the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide was used to quantify the impacts of projected climatic changes on pavement performance of low-volume roads at six sites. A series of analyses was conducted to assess the impact of pavement structure, material characteristics, traffic loads, and changes in climate on incremental and terminal pavement deterioration and performance. Results suggest that rutting (asphalt, base, and subbase layers) and both longitudinal and alligator cracking will be exacerbated by climate change, with transverse cracking becoming less of a problem. In general, maintenance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction will be required earlier in the design life; however, the effects of climate change were found to be modest relative to effects of regional baseline climate differences and increased future traffic. For road authorities, key adaptations will relate to when and how to modify current design and maintenance practices. Pavement engineers should be encouraged to develop a protocol for considering potential climate change in the development and evaluation of future designs and maintenance programs. Incorporating other climate-related road infrastructure issues– for instance those associated with concrete pavements; surface-treated roads; and airfields bridges, and culverts–would be beneficial. At a minimum, long time series of historic climatic and road weather observations (e.g., >30 years) should be incorporated into analyses of pavement deterioration and assignment of performance graded materials.

authors

publication date

  • January 2008