This research was Phase III of field investigations carried out over 12 years at a test section in southwest Washington State in an effort to quantify the contribution of geotextile separators to the long-term performance of pavement sections. Five different geotextile separators, as well as a control (soil-only) section, were installed in a test section covering two lanes with different base course thicknesses on a low volume but heavily loaded rural highway west of Bucoda, Wash. Phase I evaluated the performance of the separators during construction. Phases II and III were conducted to evaluate the performance of the separators 5 and 12 years after construction, respectively.
Field and laboratory tests were conducted on the subgrade, granular base materials, and the geotextiles as part of the effort to correlate the performance of the pavement section to the presence of the geotextile separators. Falling weight deflectometer (FWD) testing was also performed at the site as part of the effort to quantify the performance of the pavement section.
The laboratory tests indicated that the geotextiles successfully performed their separation function over the 12-year period. However, the soil-only sections had a minimal amount of intermixing at the base course/subgrade interface, indicating that the separation benefits of geotextiles may not be realized under relatively thick pavement sections.
The FWD tests showed that the most significant increase in the subgrade moduli occurred in the first few months following construction. However, the soil-only sections exhibited behavior similar to the sections with geotextiles during the FWD testing, suggesting that for the relatively thick pavement sections, incorporation of geotextiles may not have provided a significant contribution to the overall performance of the section over the 12-year period. Some of the FWD results did suggest that geotextiles might contribute to an increase in the base course modulus over time.