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C358
Geotechnical Issues in Pavement Design

John Poullain, PE

This four hour online course covers the methods and procedures used to address the geotechnical issues in pavement design, construction and performance for new construction and reconstruction. It discusses the characterization of existing and constructed subgrades and unbound base and subbase materials. The influences of geotechnical factors are reviewed with respect to the current and earlier AASHTO design guides. Case histories are presented to show the successes and failures in support of the design concepts. Basic concepts of soil behavior are considered. Problem subgrade soils such as plastic and expansive soils, collapsible soils, and frost susceptible soils are discussed. The basics of the AASHTO pavement guides are reviewed. A majority of states use the 1993 AASHTO empirical equation, which has evolved from a 1956 Road Test. Over the years the Design Guides have included additional factors to better design pavements for the conditions, traffic, and materials being used at specific road sites.

Some of the main topics covered in this course include:

  • Review and discussion of the components of pavement structures and the types of pavements.
  • Geotechnical issues and key parameters that are considered in pavement design and construction.
  • Influence of climate, moisture, drainage, and unsuitable subgrades on the performance of pavements.
  • Determination of geotechnical inputs required for pavement design, construction, and performance.
  • Considerations of mechanistic and empirical design concepts and history of pavement design.
  • The basics of the current and past AASHTO design guides.


  • This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


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    NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

    AIA Members: You must take the courses listed under the category "AIA/CES Registered Courses" if you want us to report your Learning Units (LUs) to AIA/CES. If you take courses not registered with AIA/CES, you need to report the earned Learning Units (not qualified for HSW credits) using Self Report Form provided by AIA/CES.

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