Field Evaluation of Precut Thermal Cracks in an AC Pavement in Alaska


Thermal cracking is a natural feature of most of Alaska's asphalt concrete (AC) pavements that influences long term maintenance costs and drivers' perception of road performance. Major transverse thermal cracks penetrate through not only the pavement layer itself but usually extend several feet into the aggregate materials below. A significant portion of Department of Transportation (DOT) Maintenance and Operations budget has been allocated to crack sealing and associated work. However, Alaska researchers are beginning to understand that the inevitable thermal cracking can be significantly controlled by making simple changes to new road designs. Past research in Alaska and elsewhere found that thermal cracks can be controlled if properly spaced saw cuts are made in the pavement surfaces of newly built pavement structures. Research presented in this paper looks at the different case of whether precutting can influence thermal cracking when only the top few inches of an old, thermal cracked, pavement structure have been reconditioned and repaved. Two years of monitoring show that precutting exerts significant control on thermal cracking of the new pavement surface even if most of the previously-cracked underlying aggregate pavement structure was left in place. However, precutting is most effective when the saw cuts are made at or very near the locations of the old thermal cracks.

Meeting Name

2015 International Symposium on Systematic Approaches to Environmental Sustainability in Transportation Infrastructure (2015: Aug. 2-5, Fairbanks, AK)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Agglomeration; Aggregates; Budget control; Cracking (chemical); Cracks; Highway planning; Pavements; Roads and streets; Structures (built objects); Transportation; Aggregate materials; Department of Transportation; Field evaluation; Long-term maintenances; Maintenance and operation; Natural features; Pavement structures; Road performance; Sustainable development

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2015