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Bates Test Road

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A test section at the Bates Road Test

In 1922 and 1923, the state of Illinois, faced with a large bond issue for pavement to get motorists out of the mud, conducted the famous Bates Test Road. Here World War I army trucks were driven over 63 test sections of pavement containing different materials and different designs to provide the Illinois Division of Highways with information on the best pavement type and designs for its large highway program.

Trucks at the Bates Road Test

Until 1922, most concrete had been built with no joints and with a thickened center section in an attempt to prevent the formation of an erratic longitudinal crack that developed in most of the 16-ft to 18-ft wide pavements being built at that time. The Bates Test Road showed that of 22 brick, 17 asphalt, and 24 concrete sections in the test, one brick, three asphalt, and ten concrete sections satisfactorily withstood the imposed traffic loadings. In addition to the excellent performance of concrete, results of observations on this test led engineers to the use of a longitudinal center joint to eliminate longitudinal cracking. The results were also used by Older to develop an equation relating pavement thickness to traffic loading based on the theory of cantilever beams.[1]



  1. Older, Clifford, "Highway Research in Illinois," Proceedings, Vol. L, February, 1924.
  2. Ray, Gordon K., "History and Development of Concrete Pavement Design, Journal of the Highway Division, ASCE, Vol. 90, No. HWl, Proc. Paper 3769, January, 1964, pp. 79-101.