Pavement Management

Rigid Pavement Distress

An introduction to common forms of distress in rigid pavements.


Description Cracking, breaking or chipping of joint/crack edges. Usually occurs within about 0.6 m (2 ft.) of joint/crack edge. Problem Loose debris on the pavement, roughness, generally an indicator of advanced joint/crack deterioration Possible Causes Possible causes are (AASHTO, 1993[1]): Excessive stresses at the joint/crack caused by infiltration of incompressible materials and subsequent expansion (can also … Read more »


Description A difference in elevation across a joint or crack usually associated with undoweled JPCP. Usually the approach slab is higher than the leave slab due to pumping, the most common faulting mechanism. Faulting is noticeable when the average faulting in the pavement section reaches about 2.5 mm (0.1 inch). When the average faulting reaches 4 … Read more »

Polished Aggregate

Description Areas of pavement (either PCC or HMA) where the portion of aggregate extending above the asphalt binder (in the case of HMA) or cement paste (in the case of PCC) is either very small or there are no rough or angular aggregate particles. Problem Decreased skid resistance Possible Causes Repeated traffic applications. Generally, as … Read more »

Shrinkage Cracking

Description Hairline cracks formed during PCC setting and curing that are not located at joints. Usually, they do not extend through the entire depth of the slab. Shrinkage cracks are considered a distress if they occur in an uncontrolled manner (e.g., at locations outside of contraction joints in JPCP or too close together in CRCP). … Read more »


Description Movement of material underneath the slab or ejection of material from underneath the slab as a result of water pressure. Water accumulated underneath a PCC slab will pressurize when the slab deflects under load. This pressurized water can do one of the following: Move about under the slab. Move from underneath one slab to … Read more »


Description Localized slab portion broken into several pieces. Typically a concern only with CRCP. Problem Roughness, allows moisture infiltration leading to erosion of base/subbase support, cracks will spall and disintegrate. Possible Causes Can indicate a localized construction defect such as inadequate consolidation. In CRCP, it can be caused by steel corrosion, inadequate amount of steel, … Read more »

Linear Cracking

Description Linear cracks not associated with corner breaks or blowups that extend across the entire slab. Typically, these cracks divide an individual slab into two to four pieces. Often referred to as “panel cracking”. Problem Roughness, allows moisture infiltration leading to erosion of base/subbase support, cracks will eventually spall and disintegrate if not sealed Possible … Read more »

Joint Load Transfer System Deterioration

Description Transverse crack or corner break developed as a result of joint dowels. Problem Indicator of a failed load transfer system, roughness Possible Causes Load transfer dowel bars can fail for two principal reasons: Corrosion. If inadequately protected, dowel bars can corrode over time. The corrosion products occupy volume, which creates tensile stresses around the … Read more »

Durability Cracking

Description Series of closely spaced, crescent-shaped cracks near a joint, corner or crack. It is caused by freeze-thaw expansion of the large aggregate within the PCC slab. Durability cracking is a general PCC distress and is not unique to pavement PCC. Problem Some roughness, leads to spalling and eventual slab disintegration Possible Causes Freeze-thaw susceptible … Read more »

Corner Break

Description A crack that intersects the PCC slab joints near the corner. “Near the corner” is typically defined as within about 2 m (6 ft) or so. A corner break extends through the entire slab and is caused by high corner stresses. Problem Roughness, moisture infiltration, severe corner breaks will fault, spall and disintegrate Possible … Read more »

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