In the 1980s, many state transportation departments were experiencing widespread premature deterioration of asphalt pavements. To address this problem the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) undertook a program of asphalt research that eventually led to a new asphalt mixture design and analysis system called Superpave. Superpave stands for Superior Performing Asphalt Pavements. The Superpave system includes a performance-based asphalt binder specification, a mix design analysis system, many new test procedures, and new equipment. The Strategic Highway Research Program was established by Congress in 1987 as a five(5) year, $150-million research program to improve the performance and durability of our highway system.

In 1991, Congress authorized The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to initiate full-scale implementation of Superpave and other SHRP research results. This process began in 1993 when SHRP delivered its final research findings. States, FHWA, and industry all took advantage of techniques such as state pooled-fund equipment buys, expert task groups, mobile laboratories, user-producer group, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Lead States Program, and Superpave Centers to implement the research results.

Superpave is a comprehensive system for the design of paving mixes that are tailored to the unique performance requirements dictated by the traffic, environment (climate), and structural section at a pavement site. It enhances pavement performance through the selection and combination of the most suitable asphalt binder and aggregate.


Super pave represents the integration of several products of the SHRP asphalt research program into a single system for the design and analysis of paving mixes. It encompasses new material specifications, test methods, equipment, software, and mixture design method.

Super pave was devised to replace the diverse material specifications and mixture design methods used by all states with a single system that can provide results tailored to the distinct environmental and traffic conditions found at any given location in the United States. The environmental conditions are specified in terms of:

  average 7-day maximum pavement design temperature and
  minimum pavement design temperature.

The average 7-day maximum pavement design temperature is the average of the highest daily pavement temperature for the 7 hottest consecutive days in a year. The lowest annual pavement temperature is the coldest temperature of the year.

The asphalt binder specification uses the designation Performance Graded (PG x-y) where x is high pavement design temperature and y is the low pavement design temperature. Grading temperatures are in ºC, and are specified in increments of 6ºC.

Super pave was developed to address and minimize permanent deformation, fatigue cracking, low temperature cracking, and it considers how the effects of aging and moisture damage contribute to the development of these three distresses.


241 North 5th Street;
Springfield, IL 62701
P: 217-523-2208
F: 217-544-0086

E-mail info@il-asphalt.org





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