Field investigations of cracking on concrete pavements

Dar Hao Chen, Moon Won

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This paper presents the results of several investigations to identify the underlying causes of longitudinal cracking problems in Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement. Longitudinal cracking is not intended and detrimental to the long-term performance of PCC pavement. Longitudinal cracking problems in five projects were thoroughly investigated and the findings indicate that longitudinal cracking was caused by: (1) late or shallow saw cutting of longitudinal joints; (2) inadequate base support under the concrete slab; and (3) the use of high coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) aggregates. When the longitudinal cracks were caused by late or shallow saw cutting of longitudinal joints, cracks developed at a very early stage. However, when there was adequate base support, the longitudinal cracks remained relatively tight even after decades of truck trafficking. Another cause of longitudinal cracking was inadequate base support, and cracking due to this mechanism normally progressed to rather wide cracks. Some cracks were as wide as 57 mm. Evaluations of base support by dynamic cone penetrometer in areas where longitudinal cracks were observed indicate quite weak subbase in both full-depth repaired areas and surrounding areas. This implies that the current requirements for the subbase preparation for the full-depth repair are not adequate. Another cause of longitudinal cracking was due to the use of high CTE aggregate in concrete. Large volume changes in concrete when coarse aggregate with high CTE is used could cause excessive stresses in concrete and result in longitudinal cracking. To prevent longitudinal cracking, attention should be exercised to the selection of concrete materials (concrete with low CTE) and the quality of the construction (timely and sufficient saw cutting and proper selection and compaction of subbase material).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-458
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Performance of Constructed Facilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2007


  • Concrete pavements
  • Cone penetration
  • Cracking
  • Field tests
  • Joints


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