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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > June 2000 > The Concrete Pavement Technology Program: Creating a New Generation of Concrete Pavements
June 2000Publication Number: FHWA-RD-00-059

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The Concrete Pavement Technology Program: Creating a New Generation of Concrete Pavements

With research projects investigating everything from building pavements that can better stand up to heavy traffic loads to making more cost-effective design choices, the Concrete Pavement Technology Program is changing the face of concrete pavement design and construction.

Launched in 1999, the program is a 5-year, $25 million effort that was charged by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) with carrying out "research on improved methods of using concrete pavement in the construction, reconstruction, and repair of Federal-aid highways." The program is being jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation (IPRF), a concrete paving industry consortium. The program's partners also include State highway agencies and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). "Our ultimate goal is to create a new generation of concrete pavements," says Bob Betsold, Executive Director of the IPRF.

Seven research projects were initiated as part of the program in 1999:

  • Traffic Management Studies for Reconstructing High-Volume Roadways
  • Impact of Texturing and Surface Treatment on Reducing Wet-Weather Accidents
  • Performance and Design of Whitetopping Overlays for Heavily-Trafficked Pavements
  • Tests or Standards to Identify Compatible Combinations of Individually Acceptable Concrete Materials
  • Accelerated Loading Tests of Ultra-Thin Whitetopping (UTW)
  • Costs and Benefits of Various Components of Concrete Pavements
  • Field Trials of Concrete Pavement Product and Process Technology

The projects have the overall goals of reducing user delays, reducing costs, improving performance, and fostering innovation. The traffic management studies, for example, aim to implement pilot projects on urban highways to demonstrate reconstruction work that causes minimal user disruption. The costs and benefits study has the goal of providing States with specific recommendations on how they can revise their design standards so that they are more cost-effective.

The program added six new projects this year:

  • Performance and Design of Separated (Unbonded) Concrete Overlays
  • Influence of Sealing Transverse Contraction Joints on the Overall Performance of Concrete Pavement
  • Revision of I-Slab 2000 for Subbase/Pavement Interaction
  • Workshop on Concrete Pavement Technology for State DOT Pavement Engineers
  • Develop a Plan to Investigate the Impacts of Pavement Cracking on Long-Term Performance
  • Determine Actual Life-Cycle Costs

As with the first seven projects, these initiatives aim to provide multiple benefits to States, contractors, and highway users. The transverse joint sealing project, for example, is looking at whether the use of narrow, unsealed joints on short jointed concrete pavements can provide long-term pavement performance equal to that of sealed joints. If so, States could save millions of dollars in construction and maintenance costs and highway users could see reduced traffic delays, as lanes would not have to be closed for sealant maintenance.

In addition to the oversight provided by FHWA and the IPRF, the program receives guidance from the TRB Committee for Research on Improved Concrete Pavements. The committee reviews and advises on the program's long-range work plan and project tasks, including objectives and appropriateness and likelihood of success. Chaired by Joe Denault of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the committee has representatives from industry, academia, and other State highway agencies, as well as liaisons from FHWA, IPRF, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

For more information on the Concrete Pavement Technology Program, contact Bob Betsold at IPRF, 703-288-8564 (fax: 703-288-8566; email: rbetsold@erols.com).

The future of concrete pavements will be further explored in a new long-term technology plan being developed by FHWA, IPRF, and the TRB Committee for Research on Improved Concrete Pavements. This document will chart the course for future research, development, and educational activities. The plan will also cover funding goals for the next reauthorization of the Federal-aid highway program. A draft plan is expected to be available for review during the International Concrete Pavement Conference in Orlando, Florida, in September 2001.

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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