Pavement Management Decision Tool

A Pavement Management Decision Tool for Local Agencies


The ability to identify pavement distresses and appropriate treatments is key to a pavement management system.

Use this guide to determine the right treatment for the right pavement at the right time. More on Pavement Management.

This decision tool provides a starting point for pavement maintenance and preservation treatment selection. These recommendations are presented in the context of local agency networks with lower volume roadways. Final treatment selection should also consider traffic level, construction history, and additional factors.

Instructions:

STEP 1: Select a Distress
Click on a distress to see a description, causes, and examples.
STEP 2: Select a Severity Level
Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the severity, not the extent, of the distress. For example, high severity cracking refers to the crack width, not the number of cracks. How to Measure Distress?
STEP 3: Select a Distress Density
Click to choose low or moderate/high density. This selection refers to the extent of the distress. For example, high density cracking indicates that there are many cracks (regardless of crack width).
STEP 4: Review Treatment Options
Click ‘See My Treatment Options’ to reveal a list of potential treatment options for the selected distress information. Click to reveal more information for each treatment option.

List of Asphalt Pavement Distresses and Appropriate Treatments:

Description: Hardening of asphalt films, resulting in a brittle binder that is prone to cracking and/or stone loss.

Cause: Exposure to air, water, time
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STEP 2: Severity Level

Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the measurement, not the extent, of the distress. For example, cracking severity is based on crack width (not the number of cracks), while rutting severity is based on rut depth measurements. How to Measure Distress?

Mild

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Surface binder is worn away, surface color has faded

Moderate

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Surface color is distinctly faded, minor loss of surface material

Severe

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Surface appears dry and faded, somewhat roughened, small surface cracks are prevalent

Description: Longitudinal and/or transverse cracking, often concentrated in the wheel paths, becoming interconnected with increased severity level. This distress indicates a structural issue.

Cause: Excessive traffic loads (i.e., more traffic than expected, or longer service life than expected)
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STEP 2: Severity Level

Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the measurement, not the extent, of the distress. For example, cracking severity is based on crack width (not the number of cracks), while rutting severity is based on rut depth measurements. How to Measure Distress?

Mild

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Few or no interconnecting cracks, cracks not spalled or sealed, and pumping not evident

Moderate

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Interconnecting cracks that may be slightly spalled, cracks may be sealed, pumping is not evident

Severe

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Closely interconnected cracks forming a pattern such that individual pieces may move under traffic, cracks may be sealed, and pumping may be evident. Severe fatigue cracking is often called “alligator cracking”.

Description: Cracks that are parallel to the direction of traffic and are in the wheel path. These cracks are structural in nature.

Cause: Excessive traffic loads or extended service life. Lack of lateral support can enhance this distress.
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STEP 2: Severity Level

Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the measurement, not the extent, of the distress. For example, cracking severity is based on crack width (not the number of cracks), while rutting severity is based on rut depth measurements. How to Measure Distress?

Mild

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Average crack width of less than ¼”, crack may be sealed with sealant in good condition (such that width cannot be determined).

Moderate

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Average crack width between ¼” and ¾”, or any crack near a low severity random crack.

Severe

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Average crack width > ¾”, or any crack near a moderate or high severity random crack.

Description: Cracks that are parallel to the direction of traffic, but not in the wheel path, usually at the longitudinal joint or mid-lane. These cracks are generally non-structural.

Cause: Poor construction / density at longitudinal joint, paver segregation at mid-lane
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STEP 2: Severity Level

Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the measurement, not the extent, of the distress. For example, cracking severity is based on crack width (not the number of cracks), while rutting severity is based on rut depth measurements. How to Measure Distress?

Mild

...

Average crack width of less than ¼”, crack may be sealed with sealant in good condition (such that width cannot be determined).

Moderate

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Average crack width between ¼” and ¾”, or any crack near a low severity random crack.

Severe

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Average crack width > ¾”, or any crack near a moderate or high severity random crack.

Description: Crescent-shaped cracks within 2 feet of the pavement edge where shoulders are not paved, including longitudinal cracks outside the wheel path.

Cause: Lack of lateral support
...

STEP 2: Severity Level

Click to choose mild, moderate, or severe. This level refers to the measurement, not the extent, of the distress. For example, cracking severity is based on crack width (not the number of cracks), while rutting severity is based on rut depth measurements. How to Measure Distress?

Mild

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Cracks with no breakup of loss of material.

Moderate

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Cracks with some breakup, but loss of material for no more than 10% of affected edge length.

Severe

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Cracks with considerable breakup, with material loss affecting more than 10% of affected edge length.