What Is the Purpose of Joints In Jointed Concrete Pavement?

If you’re in the construction world, you’ve likely heard the phrase “jointed concrete pavement” more times than you can count. It’s a popular paving method that uses contraction joints to prevent random cracking, without the use of any reinforced steel. However, there are a number of factors that can cause unnecessary stress on these joints, such as a disregard for regular inspections and maintenance, or improper joint placement.

Continue on for a breakdown of the functions, distress signals, and the overall purpose of jointed concrete pavement before browsing our portfolio of highway projects on the G3 Quality website.

Primary Functions

While jointed concrete pavement can serve a range of functions, they’re mainly used to control pavement cracking. Other uses include the provision of load transfer, isolating certain structures that tend to move or behave differently and lane or shoulder delineation. Joint placement is extremely important as well. If joints are placed in the wrong locations, the risk for spontaneous pavement cracking sharply increases.

Signs of Stress In Jointed Concrete Pavement

For the most part, signs of distress in jointed concrete pavement begin at the joints, due to either a lacking joint design, improper construction, or minimal maintenance. To identify the signs of distress, look for faulting, corner breaks, blowups, and mid-panel cracking which occurs due to extraneous joint spacing or incorrect joint design.

Joint Placement to Prevent Pavement Cracking

To avoid random cracking in jointed concrete pavement, there are a handful of best practices to follow. Firstly, any longitudinal construction and contraction joints should correspond with the travel lane limits at hand. As for transverse construction and contraction joints, these are to be placed perpendicular to the paving direction in areas that line up across adjoining lanes. Thirdly, any independent structures such as median barriers should be cleared from the pavement. The same goes for embedded structures, like manholes, with these areas requiring foundational adjustments to mitigate the potential for pavement cracking.

Factors That Contribute to Joint Performance

There are a handful of factors that play into the joint performance in jointed concrete pavement, from using the correct types of joints to the quality of concrete consolidation around dowels and tie bars. Other elements, such as whether joints were cut properly, the forming techniques used, and the regularity of joint inspection and maintenance come into play as well. For the most part, joint performance depends on whether pavement design standards are up to par if quality construction materials are being used, and the maintenance procedures put in place. By looking at the combination of these factors, construction teams can predict whether pavement joints will perform well over the course of the pavement’s life.

If you’re unsure whether your project calls for jointed concrete pavement construction, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local geotechnical engineering firm for guidance. The techs and inspectors at G3 Quality are here to support your pavement engineering and materials design, alongside construction inspections and testing.

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We are an elite team of engineers and professionals who provide world-class quality management, pavement engineering, materials design, construction inspection, and testing on infrastructure projects throughout California and the western United States. To learn more about how G3 Quality can contribute knowledge, expertise, consulting, and professional services to your project, contact us.