Top-down cracking is a distress mode that is of particular concern for pavements with Open-Graded Friction Course (OGFC) because open-graded mixture has considerably lower resistance to fracture (lower fracture energy limit and lower resistance to damage) than densegraded mixture. This particular cracking phenomenon initiates on the pavement surface and propagates downward; so because the OGFC layer is thin, cracking performance relies on the properties and characteristics of three components near the pavement surface: OGFC, underlying structural layer, and the interface between. For this reason, to increase the durability of pavements surfaced with OGFC, it is significant to ensure a quality fracture resistant bond between OGFC and the structural layer. This research investigated top-down cracking performance of OGFC with different tack coats using a newly developed composite specimen interface cracking (CSIC) test. In addition, X-ray computed tomography (CT) was employed to analyze the interface characteristics between OGFC and dense-graded HMA. HMA fracture mechanics was employed to quantify the effect of polymer modified asphalt emulsion (PMAE) on pavement top-down cracking resistance enhancement. Results clearly indicated that PMAE created bonded interface conditions greatly increased pavement top-down cracking resistance as compared with conventional tack coat.
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