Because winter maintenance is so costly, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) personnel asked researchers at Brigham Young University to determine whether asphalt or concrete pavements require more winter maintenance. Differing thermal properties suggest that, for the same environmental conditions, asphalt and concrete pavements will have different temperature profiles. Climatological data from 22 environmental sensor stations (ESSs) near asphalt roads and nine ESSs near concrete roads were used to 1) determine which pavement type has higher surface temperatures in winter and 2) compare the subsurface temperatures under asphalt and concrete pavements to determine the pavement type below which more freeze-thaw cycles of the underlying soil occur. Twelve continuous months of climatological data, primarily from the 2009 calendar year, were acquired from the road weather information system operated by UDOT, and erroneous data were removed from the data set. To predict pavement surface temperature, a multiple linear regression was performed with input parameters of pavement type, time period, and air temperature. Similarly, a multiple linear regression was performed to predict the number of subsurface freeze-thaw cycles, based on month, latitude, elevation, and pavement type. A finite-difference model was created to model surface temperatures of asphalt and concrete pavements based on air temperature and incoming radiation. The statistical analysis predicting pavement surface temperatures showed that, for near-freezing conditions, asphalt is better in the afternoon, and concrete is better for other times of the day, but that neither pavement type is better, on average. Asphalt and concrete are equally likely to collect snow or ice on their surfaces, and both pavements are expected to require equal amounts of winter maintenance, on average. Finite-difference analysis results confirmed that, for times of low incident radiation (night), concrete reaches higher temperatures than asphalt, and for times of high incident radiation (day), asphalt reaches higher temperatures than concrete. The regression equation predicting the number of subsurface freeze-thaw cycles provided estimates that did not correlate well with measured values. Consequently, an entirely different analysis must be conducted with different input variables. Data that were not available for this research but are likely necessary in estimating the number of freeze-thaw cycles under the pavement include pavement layer thicknesses, layer types, and layer moisture contents.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





asphalt concrete, environmental sensor station (ESS), freeze-thaw cycles, pavement temperature profiles, Portland cement concrete, road weather information system (RWIS), winter maintenance