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CPTP Status Report - Task 65 Engineering ETG Review Copy

Chapter 1 - Introduction


The Concrete Pavement Technology Program (CPTP) is a national program of research, development, and technology transfer that operates within the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The focus of the program is on implementing improved methods of designing, constructing, evaluating, and rehabilitating portland cement concrete (PCC) pavements in order to promote cost-effective designs and long-term performance for federal-aid highways.

Since the 1890s when the first concrete pavements were constructed, there has been a continuous evolution in concrete pavement technology. In the early years the technology developments emphasized the materials and construction aspects of concrete pavements. This was followed by innovations in procedures to design longer-lasting concrete pavements. Since the 1960s, with the start of the Interstate highway construction, there have been significant developments in various aspects of concrete pavement technology, including repair and rehabilitation.

Concrete pavements are routinely designed to provide low maintenance service lives of 20 to 30 years, and efforts are underway to implement design life requirements of 40 to 60 years. While much progress has been made in the last few decades to improve the performance of concrete pavements and to reduce overall life-cycle costs, many challenges remain and new challenges surface that necessitate a strong commitment to maintaining a vigorous research and development program to support concrete pavement technology. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Constrained agency budgets.
  2. Increasing traffic volumes and restrictions on construction work zones.
  3. Wet-weather safety requirements.
  4. Tire/pavement noise considerations.
  5. User demands for a smooth and comfortable ride.
  6. Shortages of good quality aggregates.
  7. Sound understanding of factors that affect concrete pavement behavior.
  8. Optimization of concrete pavements to meet design conditions.
  9. Development and characterization of durable concrete mixtures.
  10. Environmental effects on short-term and long-term concrete pavement behavior and performance.

FHWA has been committed to maintaining and funding a strong research and development (R&D) program to improve concrete pavement performance. During the late 1990s, with funding support from the TEA-21 bill, FHWA began consolidating its overall concrete pavement R&D program under the CPTP umbrella in partnership with the State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), industry, and academia.

As part of the need to assess the current status of the CPTP and to help fulfill the need of a planned approach to future research activities and programs, this report has been prepared to document the FHWA's CPTP initiative and to summarize the status and findings of the projects included in the program. Included in this report are:

  1. An executive summary that details the overall framework of the CPTP and the status of the CPTP program as a whole.
  2. A summary of the status of the individual CPTP projects, presented as an appendix.
  3. Identification of complementary studies being performed by other government agencies (FAA, Corps of Engineers), State DOTs, industry, academia, and international organizations that together may further enhance the goals of the CPTP, maximize the effort of specific CPTP projects, contribute to the enhancement of CPTP products.
  4. Preliminary cost/benefit analysis, as appropriate, for potential/promising CPTP products.

First, a brief background on the CPTP initiative is presented, along with a brief overview of some of the project "focus areas."

CPTP Background

CPTP TEA-21 Funding

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), signed into law in June 1998, authorized highway, highway safety, transit, and other surface transportation programs for a 6-year period. Two important aspects of the Act are its emphasis on rebuilding America's infrastructure and its promotion of advanced research and technology to support an efficient and well-performing pavement infrastructure. As a result of these emphases, TEA-21 included a line item calling for targeted research to improve the performance of concrete pavements for federal-aid highway projects, and the FHWA was called upon to conduct this work in cooperation with industry.

CPTP Vision & Mission

Over the years, many useful products and spin-off products have resulted from FHWA, State DOT, and industry-funded concrete pavement R&D programs. In the past, there was not a very effective framework for implementing and monitoring these innovative products because of the different agencies and organizations involved. In addition, there was little coordinated follow-up of the implemented products. The CPTP is an attempt to change the past practices by providing a more coherent nationally coordinated research program, a program that minimizes duplication and redundancy, while building on the success of each CPTP product.

The CPTP has tremendous potential to provide implementable products that pavement engineers and managers can use in designing and constructing more cost-effective and longer-lasting pavements and in rehabilitating concrete pavements more effectively by adhering to the philosophy of "get in as soon as possible; get out as quickly as possible; and stay out as long as possible." In summary, the CPTP aims to foster and expedite the adoption of new and improved methods and technologies related to the design, construction, repair, and rehabilitation of concrete pavements.

CPTP Specific Goals

The following four goals were established for the CPTP early in its development, reflecting critical needs within the area of concrete pavements:

  • Reduce user delays.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Improve performance.
  • Foster innovation.

These goals address the needs of the State department of transportations (DOTs), the concrete pavement industry, and the highway user, while supporting FHWA's strategic goals to improve the mobility, productivity and safety of the Nation's highway system by developing longer lasting, better performing pavements with safer, smoother rides and reduced congestion caused by construction work zones. All individual CPTP projects have been defined and developed with a view to meeting one or more of the above-listed CPTP goals.

Expected CPTP Benefits (For Agencies, Industry, Academia, Users)

Each project in the CPTP is intended to result in one or more products with potential for application in concrete pavement engineering practice. Some examples of CPTP products that are expected to be available for incorporation into the technology transfer, deployment, and delivery activities to be performed under this contract are as follows:

  • Software for use in selecting optimized mixture proportions for paving concrete.
  • Guidelines and test methods for evaluating compatible combinations of materials for paving concrete.
  • Software for use in the design of new and rehabilitated concrete pavements and concrete overlays.
  • New and/or refined standard test methods and specifications for paving concrete and for the materials used in paving concrete.
  • Guidelines for implementing innovative practices, such as the use of precast pavement panels for repair/rehabilitation and construction of concrete pavements.
  • Guidance for developing performance-related specifications.
  • Methods for determining life-cycle costs of concrete pavements and for evaluating cost-benefit analyses of various concrete pavement components.
  • Guidelines for traffic management associated with rapid repair/rehabilitation and construction activities on high-volume roadways.
  • Implementation package to inform and provide guidance to stakeholder groups in government, industry, and academia concerning needed long-term research for concrete pavements.
  • New or updated National Highway Institute (NHI) course materials on various aspects of concrete pavement technology.

Limited product deployment and technology transfer activities have been performed and other minor efforts are currently underway. FHWA has taken steps to consolidate the CPTP product deployment and technology transfer effort to ensure that the program results in maximum payoff to the stakeholders and that the key anticipated products/benefits of the CPTP materialize in a timely manner.

Program Administration, Management and Oversight


The TEA-21 bill was signed into law in June 1998 and included a provision earmarking $30 million over a 6-year period for research, development and technology transfer activities related to improved methods of using concrete pavement in the construction, reconstruction, and repair of federal-aid highways. As a follow-up on this provision, FHWA entered into a cooperative agreement with the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation (IPRF) during March 1999 to establish a federal-industry partnership to jointly conduct the CPTP with a total funding of $25 million. Under the terms of this cooperative agreement, FHWA and IPRF were each responsible for managing and conducting $12.5 million of the research.

The research projects selected for inclusion in the CPTP were designated as tasks. The IPRF managed projects were based on a "Blueprint for Research" developed by the America Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA). Projects designated as Tasks 1 to 19 were to be performed under the IPRF oversight and projects designated as Tasks 51 to Tasks 65 were to be performed under FHWA oversight and management. During June 2002, FHWA and IPRF mutually agreed to terminate the CPTP related cooperative agreement. During late 2002 and early 2003, FHWA renegotiated several of the IPRF projects and executed new contracts in accordance with Federal procurement rules.

CPTP Development Flow chart. This chart illustrates a circular flow between four elements: Identify Needs; Develop Products; Transfer/Implement Technology; Measure Performance; and back to Identify Needs.

Expert Task Group Advisory Panels

Most CPTP projects included provisions for establishment of Expert Task Groups (ETGs) to provide technical advice and guidance to the project contractor teams in the conduct of the project. The ETGs typically meet at specific project milestones to review the status of the project and to review specific products developed under each phase of the project. The ETG membership includes experts in the subject matter from State DOTs, FHWA, industry, and academia.

TRB Oversight Committee (Committee for Research on Improved Concrete Pavement for Federal-Aid Highways)

As part of the FHWA-IPRF cooperative agreement, TRB established Committee EE1007 - Committee for Research on Improved Concrete Pavement for Federal-Aid Highways. The committee's membership comprised of senior management personnel from State DOTs, FHWA, AASHTO, TRB and Industry as well as experts from academia. The committee's charge was to review and advise upon the long-range work plan of the joint FHWA-IPRF concrete pavement research program and individual research tasks. The first meeting of the committee was held in June 1999, while the ninth and final meeting of the committee was held in October 2003. Over more than 4 years, the committee played a useful oversight and advisory role in helping maintain focus in the overall CPTP.

CPTP Challenges

The CPTP is an important undertaking of FHWA in partnership with State DOTs, AASHTO, TRB, industry, and academia. The CPTP is only a few years old, but it has developed into a systematic approach to improving concrete pavement technology. The FHWA is committed to carrying this momentum forward to continue to reap the rewards from the CPTP in future years.

The CPTP, like many similar national programs, also needs to overcome many challenges to ensure widespread acceptance of the program, its vision/mission, and successful deployment of the program products. The challenges that need to be addressed include the following:

  1. Institutional resistance to innovations, as the highway construction industry is very conservative when it comes to implementing new ideas and new technologies.
  2. Perception of high risk/high failure rate in implementing new "untried" products.
  3. Many products do not address immediate repair/rehabilitation related needs of the DOTs, such as shorter closure times and longer performance lives.
  4. Products for implementation have not been pre-tested. Products need to undergo pre-implementation "ruggedness" testing.
  5. Products cannot be buried in very technical reports and documents.
  6. In the past, many implementations have not had adequate follow-up monitoring. Therefore, the success or failure of implemented products is not known, except for anecdotal information. As a result, opportunities to further develop/improve implemented products are not usually available.
  7. Most DOTs are under-staffed and under-resourced. Therefore, it is required that most new products be well-refined to allow ready acceptance and implementation by DOT staff.
  8. Most payoffs in concrete pavement innovations are realized over a long time period. These longer-term benefit projects need to be balanced with shorter-term benefits such as reduced premature failures, reduced construction time, efficient work zone management, and lower overall user costs.

The FHWA CPTP team believes that with the right approach, continued partnering between various involved parties, and continued support of key stakeholders to champion innovative products, the CPTP will remain a dynamic and productive program.

The FHWA is committed to ensuring that there is adequate follow-through of implemented CPTP products whether it is in the field or in the classroom. A formal program has been incorporated within the CPTP to monitor long-term performance and impact of implemented products. With this process, the CPTP can continue to build upon the success of each implementation.

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Updated: 02/20/2015

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration