IPRF Project FAA-01-G-002-1

Best Practices for Airport Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Construction (Rigid Airport Pavement)


Construction practices vary across the country and from contractor to contractor. Experience of construction inspectors and engineers varies depending upon training and experience. Airfield pavement construction techniques and practices need to be documented and each practice or technique discussed with respect to advantages and disadvantages. The documentation will include those practices that are known to result in poor pavement performance. The details or specific concrete pavement mixture design procedures will not be included in this effort. However, a general discussion about different cements and mix design practices is considered appropriate. The document must include a commentary on the variability of common problems encountered in meeting specifications and there should be recommendations as which practices best help the contractor overcome those problems.

Example topics include but are not limited to:

  • Pre-Construction Considerations
    • Staking, Stringlines, Grade Control
    • Sequencing Haul Routes, Cure Time, Pilot Lane Layout
    • Joint Layout, Design Details
  • Construction
    • Variables in Concrete Mix Designs
    • Concrete Production
    • Admixtures
    • Subbase Preparation and Equipment
    • Concrete Delivery, Dumping, and Spreading
    • Consolidation Equipment
    • Finishing (Mechanized and Hand)
    • Edging
    • Texturing (Bleed Water Control) / Grooving
    • Curing
    • Saw Cutting (Green Saw and Dimension)
    • Sealing and Seal Types
  • Special Construction Considerations
    • Placing Reinforcement
    • Load Transfer Mechanisms
    • In Pavement Structures (Penetrations)
    • Plastic Concrete Repairs
    • Flexible Pavement Interfaces (Joints)
    • Considerations for Fast-Track Construction
    • Hot and Cold Weather Placement
    • Attaining Smoothness / Ride Quality (how to get it, not measure it)


The investigator shall prepare a research plan. That plan begins with a review of the Department of Defense "DRAFT" Standard Practices Manual, a 191-page document that will be provided to the research group or individual selected for contract award. The research team or individual will also determine what recognized documentation is currently available that speaks to the standard practice of portland cement concrete pavement construction. The research team shall develop an outline of the proposed best practice manual in sufficient detail to show what topics will be included in the manual. This conceptual outline will be reviewed and approved by a technical committee before work proceeds (20% submittal and review).

The majority of the resources for the research will involve a thorough and systematic investigation of airport rigid pavement construction projects. Researchers shall develop a list of projects with applicability to topics included in the manual, and then interview respective designers, constructors, inspectors, State Aviation Officials, and owners. An important part of this effort will be ensuring that the practice used resulted in acceptable pavement performance. Therefore, the project owners and maintainers must be included in the interview process. It is anticipated that some interviews will occur over the phone and some will occur on site. Pavement performance will be validated by nothing more than a review of pavement condition survey data or through the performance of visual inspection.

After the interviews are completed, the investigator's task will be to identify what procedures are successful, or unsuccessful, and document those procedures that consistently result in superior airport pavements. Precautions associated with specific practices shall be included and the manual should recommend the conditions under which procedures are suitable or unsuitable.


The final product will be an industry reference about portland cement concrete pavements for the airfield environment that can be used by designers, contractors, and inspectors. The format of the document will be specified by the IPRF. The investigator will provide two originals of the manuscript including any artwork or photos. The publication will also be submitted in an electronic format compatible with industry recognized desktop computer publication software.

The investigator will be responsible for the preparation of quarterly reports that describe the progress of the research effort. Reports will be due in the offices of the IPRF on the last day of the quarter. The reports will be limited to two pages in a format specified by the IPRF.


After the technical panel completes the evaluation of proposals, each of the proposals will be rank ordered. The organization, group, or individual that is ranked as the first and second choice for the recommendation to award will be asked to make a presentation to the project technical panel. The Principal Investigator, and one other person, representing the entity ranked first and second choice by the technical panel will participate in an interview to discuss the project details, goals, and objectives. The IPRF will reimburse the expenses (up to 2 people) to make this presentation at a location yet to be determined in Skokie, IL. The interview will occur within a 30-day window subsequent to the proposal submittal deadline.

The investigator will be responsible for the preparing and submitting quarterly reports that describe the progress of the research effort. Reports will be due in the offices of the IPRF on the last day of the fiscal year quarter (i.e., last day of March, last day of June, last day of September, and the last day of December). The reports will be two pages maximum in a format that will be specified.

PROJECT DIRECTOR: James L. Lafrenz, P.E., (202) 842-1010, jlafrenz@pavement.com

Have Questions?
Contact Jim Lafrenz, Cooperative Agreement Programs Manager Phone: 202-842-1010

Return to IPRF Airfields Research