At SME, the goal of sustainable pavement design is to optimize its long term performance by selecting the proper paving materials and layer thickness, taking into account subgrade characteristics, traffic loading, the environment and the future use of the pavement.

SME's pavement experts tackle all aspects of pavement design including selecting appropriate subgrade treatments, pavement materials and layer thickness, and developing plans and specifications to implement our recommendations. We develop practical and insightful solutions for the design, maintenance, preservation and rehabilitation of roads, highways, parking lots, airfields and other similar surfaces. We help clients identify cost-effective strategies that preserve their pavement network while incorporating the latest design procedures, material innovations and construction technologies.

For existing pavements, we first gather sufficient data for use in selecting pavement rehabilitation design strategies. In addition to completing design development with plans and specifications, we also develop probable construction costs. Our goal is to salvage as much of the existing pavement as possible and to provide the a rehabilitation strategy that meets the project budget and life expectancy.

The highest risks to new pavement construction are uncertain or unstable subgrade conditions. These risks may include buried organics, deep organic or peat deposits, expansive soils, wet and unstable clays or loose sands. To address these concerns, SME conducts a thorough geotechnical evaluation to develop data for selecting a design.  We design an appropriate site evaluation to meet the project needs, and use our own drill rigs and state-of-the-art laboratories to evaluate the site. We save our clients many times our fees by identifying risks early and developing strategies to deal with them during design  rather than construction.

SME is knowledgeable in traditional pavement design solutions (AASHTO 1993) as well as the latest design methods such as Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (AASHTO MEPDG). SME is also well versed in airfield pavement design methods developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other Department of Defense (DOD) methods using the latest software and guides.

Once a pavement design is selected, SME can provide comprehensive services to move your project into the next phase. We develop accurate plans and specifications, especially on pavement rehabilitation projects, that provide adequate details for the bidding and constructing your project. Our goal is to provide ample details to reduce change orders in the field.

Learn More About Our Pavement Design Services:

Plans and Specifications

To construct or rehabilitate pavements, detailed project documents need to be prepared to instruct the potential bidders and the successful contractor of the work involved and the type of materials to be used. These documents become part of the project contract. SME can develop required project documents including site plans, proposal forms, technical specifications, general conditions and special conditions. We can provide contract language using the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC®) model contracts. SME also prepares an Engineer’s Opinion of Probable Construction Costs based on the selected design, unit prices from previous projects, average unit prices published by government agencies or private services such as RS Means.


SME provides project planning and design services for pavement related projects. This includes preparing site layout and grading requirements, developing projects plans and specifications, preparing contract documents, performing quantity take-offs and preparing construction cost estimates, submitting various permit applications, and providing assistance and oversight during construction. Our services have included designing pavement rehabilitation of small parking lots; providing design services for a 3-year $10 million bond for a school district involving 30 schools; and designing new parking lots and new entrance roads for higher education facilities. SME is also servicing industrial clients throughout the Midwest and nationwide during short shutdown periods where keeping project schedules are paramount. Plans generally include:

  • Notes and details
  • Soil erosion/sediment control plans
  • Existing plans
  • Demolition plans
  • Grading and drainage plans
  • Site lighting improvements (if needed)
  • Landscape improvements (if needed)
  • Standard municipal/county details


SME can develop detailed projects specifications outlining requirements to be satisfied for items including materials, design process, products or services. SME is familiar with different specification methods ranging from those based on a commercial service such a SpecText® to SpecsIntact, which are generally used by government agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. SME is well versed in the development of special provisions for transportation related project such as Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for special use items.

Probable Costs

A statement of probable costs is often needed to support evaluations of project feasibility or funding requirements in support of planning. SME often uses it as a basis for establishing a budget and as a cost constraint for a pavement project.


Design/Build is a method of project delivery in which one entity – the design/build team – works under a single contract with the owner to provide complete pavement design and construction services. In pavement design/build projects, SME has served as a part of the design/build team under the prime contractor. Streamlining project delivery, the design/build team transforms the relationship between designers and builders into an alliance, which fosters collaboration and teamwork. United from the outset of the project, an integrated team readily works to successfully complete a project faster and with fewer change orders.

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Jason A. Schwartzenberger, PE

Vice President
Pavement-Design Services

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