Holding Strategies for Low-Volume State Routes

Project status

In progress

Start date: 03/01/13
End date: 06/30/18


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

About the research

The overall pavement condition of Iowa’s highway network has been decreasing in the past decade due to aging facilities, increasing traffic, and lack of financial resources. Due to insufficient funding, rehabilitation or reconstruction is delayed for low-volume roads in need in need of repairs. Some lower-cost treatments, which may have shorter life expectancies in comparison to traditional rehabilitation or reconstruction methods, have been considered inappropriate for use with severely deteriorated pavements. However, these treatments could be applied to “hold” these pavements in an acceptable condition until funding for rehabilitation or reconstruction is available. Such holding strategies would likely increase the flexibility in allocating funds and improve the overall condition of the highway network in Iowa.

In order to develop treatments that can be used to fulfill the goal of a holding strategy, 10 test sections were constructed on a 13-mile low-volume asphalt road segment in 2013. Proposed holding strategy treatments using various combinations of thin and ultrathin asphalt overlays, in-place recycling technologies, and chip seals were applied to remedy the poor surface conditions of the pavements. A series of pavement condition surveys, in-situ and laboratory material tests, and surface characterizations were performed to evaluate the structural and functional performance of the test sections.

Based on the performance of the test sections, life expectancies of the various treatments were estimated; and lifecycle costs were analyzed. The lifecycle cost analysis results indicate that six of the 10 proposed treatments can be used as candidate holding strategy treatments. The other treatments have considerably lower cost-effectiveness compared to traditional pavement rehabilitation methods.



  • Federal Highway Administration State Planning and Research Funding
  • Iowa Department of Transportation