The effects of frost action introduce many challenges in the design and construction of roadways in cold regions throughout the United States. The penetration of frost into pavement structures can lead to differential frost heave during winter and thaw weakening during spring. Both of these damage mechanisms lead to premature pavement distress, structural deterioration, and poor ride quality. Because the availability of naturally occurring non-frost-susceptible pavement base materials is rapidly diminishing in many areas while project budgets remain largely inadequate, pavement engineers are utilizing alternative materials and techniques to minimize such damage. The purpose of this research was to investigate and document the state of the practice concerning the design and construction of pavements in cold regions. In particular, the various methods and standards employed for characterizing materials, improving soils and aggregates, and determining pavement layer thicknesses were explored. A comprehensive literature review was performed, and a questionnaire survey was conducted of various state DOTs throughout the United States that are involved with the design and maintenance of roadways. The study was directed primarily at identifying practices utilized by state DOTs in climates with freezing temperatures. The information obtained in this research represents a unique compilation of standards of practice that have been developed by DOTs based on years of experience and research in their respective jurisdictions. While this research allows engineers at state DOTs to compare their pavement design and construction practices with those of other states represented in the survey, consulting engineers and engineers in local governments involved in characterizing materials, improving soils and aggregates, and determining pavement layer thicknesses can also benefit from this work.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





cold regions, pavement design, pavement construction, cement treated, subbase stabilization, base stabilization, subgrade improvement, subgrade stabilization, frost action, frost heave, thaw weakening, survey, literature review