Design improvements to enhance the performance of thin and ultra-thin concrete overlays in Texas

Dar Hao Chen, Moon Won, Xianhua Chen, Wujun Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Over the years, the design of thin and ultra-thin concrete overlays (TWT and UTW) has improved. The performance of TWT and UTW sections built with various designs in Texas has been evaluated, with the goal of further improving design standards and construction specifications. Distresses observed in TWT and UTW sections built prior to 2005 were associated with (1) panel size and layout, (2) transition areas, (3) sliding of slab panels, and (4) defects in existing HMA. Design improvements were made in 2011 to mitigate those distresses, which included placing joints away from wheel paths and the use of continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) or thickened slabs at transition areas. Regardless of the slab thicknesses used, the panel layout should be 1.83- × 1.83-m (6- × 6-ft). The goal is to have saw-cut joints away from the wheel paths, and thus reducing wheel load stresses in concrete slabs. The increase in curling stresses due to the use of this slab size compared with smaller size slabs appears to be offset more by reduced wheel load stresses. Comprehensive characterization of the existing HMA condition should be made to identify and address hidden defects before the TWT or UTW overlays. Even with some distresses, TWT and UTW sections in Texas have performed satisfactorily with oldest sections having been in service for more than 14 years with minimal repairs required. No distresses have been observed in two TWT projects built in 2011 and 2012 with the improved design practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - Jul 30 2016


  • Intersection
  • Thin Concrete Pavement Overlay
  • Ultrathin Concrete Overlay
  • Whitetopping


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