Research Activities: 2011


Ground Penetrating Radar (GRP) for Pavement Evaluation - Supplement to R261

 Status Complete                                              View Final Report: PDF

Sequential Number


Identification Number


Matching Research Agency

University of Arkansas


Principal Investigator

Dr. Neil Anderson, Professor
129 McNutt Hall
Missouri University of Science & Technology
Rolla, MO 65409
p 573-341-4582
f 573-341-6935

Student Involvement

Two graduate students will be involved in this project


Project Objective

1. Investigate the cost-effectiveness of new GPR technologies for providing accurate pavement layer thickness data for use with the FWD to provide pavement structural capacity and remaining service life for use in the Pavement Management database

2. Determine specifications and requirements for acquiring a GPR sub-system and data interpretation software

3. Deliver a working GPR system that will allow the Department to collect, analyze and distribute pavement thickness information meeting the needs of the Department


Project Abstract

In the near future the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department Pavement Management System (PMS) will utilize a Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) to collect network level pavement structural data to aid in predicting performance of pavement sections.  One of the drawbacks to running the FWD is that pavement thickness is required for the tested pavement section.  The standard method for obtaining pavement thickness information is coring.  Coring for a network level survey would be cost prohibitive.  Coring costs can run between $3,000 and $3,600 per day with a typical collection distance of 20 miles per day.  The Department manages over 16,000 centerline miles of highways.  Previous research has shown Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a proven and reliable technology that can be used as a feasible alternative to provide pavement thickness data.  GPR data collection can be costly as well; contract services for pavement thickness can cost between $50 and $100 per mile from a reputable service provider.  GPR equipment has become less cumbersome, more user-friendly and more affordable in the last few years.  There are GPR technologies that employ multiple antennas to provide pavement layer thickness for network level surveys.  These newer technologies could provide the pavement layer thicknesses required for network level FWD data collection in a timely and cost-effective manner.


Task Description



Anticipated Benefits

The deployment of a GPR system for network level pavement survey will provide AHTD substantial capability in its effort to determine pavement layer thickness, and fulfill needs for statewide pavement management, the implementation of the Mechanistic and Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG), and FHWA HPMS requirement of pavement layer information.

In addition, through the early 2000’s, AHTD has embarked on a major effort to streamline its information system by developing and implementing the Multimedia Highway Information System (MMHIS). The most recent effort through the AHTD research project TRC-0702 would provide a framework for AHTD to obtain a comprehensive database engine for storing pavement design, materials, construction, and management data.

Through this new project, it is anticipated that FWD data and GPR generated pavement layer information will become an essential component of pavement structural evaluation data sets that are part of this new database engine. It is also envisioned that the new database engine will be compatible with MMHIS, and eventually will be fully accessible through various AHTD offices, including remote district offices.

Modal Orientation



Project Start Date: 07/01/2011
Project End Date:



Relationship to other Research/Projects



Technology Transfer Activities

Results will be presented at national conference and published


Transportation Research Board Keywords

Ground penetrating radar, pavement, air-launched antenna