Design Guide for Improved Quality of Roadway Subgrades and Subbases (TR-525)

Project status


Start date: 01/01/05
End date: 09/30/08


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

About the research

The performance of a pavement depends on the quality of its subgrade and subbase layers; these foundational layers play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate and the stresses generated by traffic. Therefore, building a stable subgrade and a properly drained subbase is vital for constructing an effective and long lasting pavement system. This manual has been developed to help Iowa highway engineers improve the design, construction, and testing of a pavement system's subgrade and subbase layers, thereby extending pavement life. The manual synthesizes current and previous research conducted in Iowa and other states into a practical geotechnical design guide (proposed as Chapter 6 of the SUDAS Design Manual) and construction specifications (proposed as Section 2010 of the SUDAS Standard Specifications) for subgrades and subbases. Topics covered include the important characteristics of Iowa soils, the key parameters and field properties of optimum foundations, embankment construction, geotechnical treatments, drainage systems, and field testing tools, among others.


Report: Final Report: Design Guide for Improved Quality of Roadway Subgrades and Subbases (TR-525) (2.7 mb pdf) September 2008

Tech transfer summary: Tech Transfer Summary: Design Guide for Subgrades and Subbases (285 kb pdf) Sep 2008


Sponsor(s): Iowa Highway Research Board

Iowa SUDAS, which develops specifications and guidance for urban construction