Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr John Lambert


Novel assessment test for granular road foundation materials

Project Title

Novel Laboratory Assessment of Road Foundation Materials


Highways Agency


Prof N Nixon
Dr P Fleming

Mr R Lung

Director of Research:
Dr D Gillingwater

Research Period

2002 - 2006

Novel Laboratory Assessment of Road Foundation Materials


The Highways Agency has recently developed a performance-based specification for capping and subgrade (from funded research at Loughborough University) that is being trialled to evaluate its robustness in live road constructions. The new specification requires a greater understanding of fundamental material parameters. It is clear that there is a requirement to assess these performance properties of marginal or recycled (capping) materials with confidence prior to construction. This materials engineering challenge forms the focus of this project.

Aims and Objectives

The specific aims and objectives of the project include:

• To develop an innovative type of laboratory tester which can be used to provide performance indicators of (coarse) capping materials at the material selection stage.

• Provide an efficient and economical device for measuring the engineering properties of marginal or recycled materials for acceptability.

Method and Current Status

The proposed approach to these objectives is to develop a large-scale test rig in the laboratory, into which samples of the proposed capping can be prepared, and to then measure their behaviour for both elastic stiffness modulus and also resistance to repeated cyclic (vertical) loading. The effects of saturation and subsequent free-draining will also be assessed. The performance parameters can then be input into new design methods to establish the required thickness for adequate field performance. The ‘as built’ performance is then checked on site.

A review of performance testing, material behaviour and Durability of road construction materials is currently underway.

Benefits/Expected Outcomes

With the introduction of aggregate tax and the necessity for sustainability in construction it is essential to recycle used materials and suitable quarry by-products. The laboratory test device is anticipated to determine whether such materials meet the new performance parameters. The materials that are acceptable may be used in road construction rather than the traditionally used aggregates.

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R. and Frost M. W. (2006). Sustainable Earthworks Specifications for Transport Infrastructure, In Transportation Research Record. Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Vol. 1975, Soil Mechanics, pp. 73-80.

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R., and Frost M. W. (2006). A review of the Lightweight Deflectometer (LWD) for routine in situ assessment of pavement material stiffness, Proceedings of the 86th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Washington DC, USA, 2006, pp. 1-15.

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R. and Frost M. W. (2006). Laboratory Assessment of Coarse Granular Road Foundation Materials, In Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Vol. 1952, Geomaterials, 2006, 58-67.

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R., and Frost M. W. (2006). Sustainable earthworks specifications for transport infrastructure. Transportation research record : journal of the Transportation Research Board, Vol. 1975, pp. 73-80.

J. P. Lambert , P. R. Fleming & M. W. Frost (2008) The assessment of coarse granular materials for performance based pavement foundation design, International Journal of Pavement Engineering, Vol. 9 (3), pp. 203-214




Lambert, M.W. … et al., (2002). In-situ assessment of stiffness modulus for highway foundations during construction, 9th International Conference on Asphalt Pavements, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2002, 1-12.

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R. and Frost M. W. (2007). A material performance test for sustainable pavement foundation design, The Proceedings of the ICE - Construction Materials, Vol. 159 (4), pp. 139-146. [10.1680/coma.2006.159.4.139].

Lambert J. P., Fleming P. R. and Frost M. W. (2009). Lightweight Deflectometers for quality assurance in road construction. IN: Tutumluer, E. and Al-Qadi, I.L. (eds). Bearing Capacity of Roads, Railways and Airfields: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference (BCR2A'09), June 29 - July 2 2009, University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA, pp. 809-818.



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+44 (0)1509 222623

The Centre Administrator
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

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