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California Division

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Strategic Highway Research Program

The Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) was initiated in 1987 with a massive (i.e. $150 million) infusion of cash to fund transportation research under four general headings: Concrete and Structures, Long term Pavement Performance, Highway Operations, and Asphalt. SHRP was intended to make roads safer for users and highway workers.

As far as asphalt is concerned, SHRP was a concentrated 5-year effort to investigate and improve asphalt cement technology, including the testing and design of asphalt materials. As a result of SHRP there is a greater understanding of hot mix asphalt design and new procedures and equipment to conduct mix analysis.

A cost/benefit analysis of SHRP was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and was reported in the August 1997 issue of Better Roads Magazine. TTI used existing information to extrapolate the nation-wide costs for research, development, and implementation of SHRP technologies. Over one hundred case studies were used to estimate the expected benefits from SHRP technologies.

By adopting SHRP maintenance strategies for snow and ice control and pavement maintenance, TTI estimates the combined savings to highway agencies at $126 million per year, or 1.8% of their current expenditures. These savings are realized because SHRP emphasizes timing in snow and ice removal. If treatment is applied before new snow and ice bond to the pavement, then removal is accomplished with a fraction of the effort.

Most people are familiar with SHRP through the massive effort involved in field verification of over 160 SHRP products, under all four of the general headings listed above. From #1001, Asphalt Binder Specification, through #5040, Microcomputer Information Management System, all SHRP products were developed in response to requests to meet the needs of the transportation community. The degree of success of SHRP products varied.

As a group, the winter maintenance SHRP products were probably the most successful. Products #3022, Snowplow Cutting Edge, and #3001, Snow Fence Guide, made big savings possible for reasonable initial investments. Product #3023, Road Weather Information System, is widely accepted as a perfect example of working smarter, not harder.

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