Pavement Response

How a pavement responds to applied stresses is the combined result of loading, environment, subgrade and pavement material characteristics.  This section presents the typical stresses and deformations experienced by an HMA pavement structure under load.


The stresses that occur in a HMA pavement under load are quite complex; routine calculation of these stresses is a recent development.  Using a basic two-dimensional layered elastic model, the basic relationships between layer stiffness and stress for a two-layer flexible pavement structure is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Stresses and strains in a pavement structure.


HMA pavements are often described as “flexible” because they deflect under load.  Figure 2 shows schematically how pavements deflect under load.  FWDs can be used to accurately determine deflection characteristics of in-service pavements.

Figure 2. Pavement Deflection.