Cost-effectiveness of Rubber and Polymer Modified Asphalt Mixtures as Related to Sustainable Fatigue Performance
Load associated fatigue cracking is one of the major distress types occurring in flexible pavements. Flexural bending beam fatigue laboratory test has been used for several decades and is considered an integral part of the Superpave advanced characterization procedure. One of the most significant solutions to sustain the fatigue life for an asphaltic mixture is to add sustainable materials such as rubber or polymers to the asphalt mixture. A laboratory testing program was performed on three gap-graded mixtures: unmodified, Asphalt Rubber (AR) and polymer-modified. Strain controlled fatigue tests were conducted according to the AASHTO T321 procedure. The results from the beam fatigue tests indicated that the AR and polymer-modified gap graded mixtures would have much longer fatigue lives compared to the reference (unmodified) mixture. In addition, a mechanistic analysis using 3D-Move software coupled with a cost-effectiveness analysis study based on the fatigue performance on the three mixtures were performed. Overall, the analysis showed that the AR and polymer-modified asphalt mixtures exhibited significantly higher cost-effectiveness compared to unmodified HMA mixture. Although AR and polymer-modification increases the cost of the material, the analysis showed that they are more cost effective than the unmodified mixture.