Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Wikipedia.
An artificial surface laid over the ground to facilitate travel. A pavement's ability to support loads depends primarily upon the magnitude of the load, how often it is applied, the supporting power of the soil underneath, and the type and thickness of the pavement structure. Before the necessary thickness of a pavement can be calculated, the volume, type, and weight of the traffic (the traffic load) and the physical characteristics of the underlying soil must be determined.
Once the grading operation has been completed and the subgrade compacted, construction of the pavement can begin. Pavements are either flexible or rigid. Flexible pavements, which are composed of aggregate (sand, gravel, or crushed stone) and bituminous material (see illustration), have less resistance to bending than do rigid pavements, which are made of concrete. Both types can be designed to withstand heavy traffic. Selection of the type of pavement depends, among other things, upon (1) estimated construction costs; (2) experience of the highway agency doing the work with each of the two types; (3) availability of contractors experienced in building each type; (4) anticipated yearly maintenance costs; and (5) experience of the owner in maintenance of each type. See Concrete, Highway engineering