Evaluating Roadway Subsurface Drainage Practices


Dario Canelon, John Nieber

January 2009

Report no. MnDOT 2009-08



This project involved the evaluation of some configurations of pavement subsurface drainage systems, including the conventional edgedrain system, and two centerline configurations, at 2-foot and 4-foot depths. Testing of these configurations took place on a newly constructed eight-mile section of Nobles County CSAH 35 near Worthington. Drained roadway sections were 500 feet long for each drainage treatment. Each of the treatments was replicated six times, with the outflow for each replication outlet through a tipping-bucket flow monitoring system. The experimental design tested both the drain configuration and the effect of relative elevation of the roadway. Measurement of relative wetness of the pavement base and subgrade materials for each of the drainage treatments was conducted with a Geonics electromagnetic induction instrument (EM38). Data were collected from March 2006 until November 2008, with breaks during the winter periods. Statistical analyses were conducted to look for treatment effects, using both drained volumes as well as the EM38 measurements as measures of drain efficacy. Additional project work included a finite element analysis of the drainage configurations, EM38 evaluation of drainage effectiveness of an open-graded base construction for streets in the city of Worthington, and evaluation of the potential drain plugging effect of crushed concrete fill.

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