Determine Initial Cause for Current Premature PCC Pavement Deterioration (TR-406)

Project status


Start date: 05/01/97
End date: 11/30/00


Principal investigators:

About the research

A detailed investigation has been conducted on core samples taken from 17 portland cement concrete pavements located in Iowa. The goal of the investigation was to help to clarify the root cause of the premature deterioration problem that has become evident since the early 1990s. Laboratory experiments were also conducted to evaluate how cement composition, mixing time, and admixtures could have influenced the occurrence of premature deterioration.

The hardened air content determinations conducted during this study indicated that the pavements that exhibited premature deterioration often contained poor-to-marginal entrained-air void systems. In addition, petrographic studies indicated that sometimes the entrained-air void system had been marginal after mixing and placement of the pavement slab, while in other instances a marginal-to-adequate entrained-air void system had been filled with ettringite. The filling was most probably accelerated because of shrinkage cracking at the surface of the concrete pavements.

Construction practices played a significant role in the premature deterioration problem. Laboratory studies conducted during this project indicated that most premature stiffening problems can be directly attributed to the portland cement used on the project. The admixtures (class C fly ash and water reducer) tended to have only a minor influence on the premature stiffening problem when they were used at the dosage rates described in this study.


Report: Determine Initial Cause for Current Premature PCC Pavement Deterioration (TR-406) (1.02MB pdf) October 2000



  • Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Iowa Highway Research Board