Principal Investigator: Robert Parsons
A thorough understanding of railroad ballast drainage and strength properties is required for developing ballast specifications. While the properties of new ballast meeting American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) specifications have been investigated, as much as 70 percent of the ballast applied to track during maintenance activities is recycled ballast. This ballast and a great deal of ballast currently in service under track has experienced degradation due to particle breakdown and rounding. The properties of recycled or degraded ballast have not been thoroughly examined; however it is believed that this ballast will not perform as well as new ballast, particularly when fouled. A preliminary study is proposed to evaluate the strength and drainage properties of actual recycled ballast with regard to its degree of fouling and degradation. Strength and permeability tests will be conducted on clean and fouled samples with the goal of relating the degree of fouling to reductions in the strength and drainage properties of recycled ballast.