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Infrastructure Materials Group

Smoothness Questions

Should acceptable smoothness levels vary by pavement type, materials used or method of construction?

Smoothness is the primary measure used by the traveling public to judge a pavement quality. The expectation is for smooth pavement over the entire system. The average user does not think in terms of projects, segments or jurisdictions. The user's opinion is effectively "blind" to variables such as pavement type, materials used or methods of construction when rating their ride.

We, as custodians of the highway system, should also think in terms of the entire system. Construction specifications should reflect a single standard of smoothness that insures performance along with driver comfort and safety. Variables such as pavement type, materials or methods of construction should be selected by the designer, engineers and/or contractors to meet the system standard.

The Highway Operations Division is currently compiling information on smoothness specifications from a state survey. Information from this survey will be posted on this web site at a later date.


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United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration