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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January 1996

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-96-012
Date: January 1996


Illinois Sold on Superpave Gyratory Compactors

The State of Illinois is putting its money on Superpave equipment. Last year, it spent $325,000 to purchase 13 Superpave gyratory compactors for its districts. The Superpave gyratory compactor is required for designing Superpave mixes.

"Illinois is one of the leading States for implementing the new Superpave technology," says Tom Harman, FHWA materials engineer.

The first gyratory compactor went to the University of Illinois' Advanced Transportation and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL) in Rantoul. It was acquired through a pooled-fund purchase arranged by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). ATREL provides Superpave training to engineers and technicians in the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) and in the hot-mix asphalt industry, and also advises them on setting up Superpave laboratories. The university also conducts research for Illinois DOT.

Shortly after receiving the initial Superpave gyratory compactor, Illinois purchased 12 more--2 for the central laboratory in Springfield, 2 for the Chicago area district, and 1 for each of the State's remaining 8 districts. The money to purchase the devices came out of the State's planning and research funds. Jim Gehler, chief engineer of the bureau of materials and physical research for Illinois DOT, says the department had no problem justifying the purchase. "Illinois is committed to SHRP products, especially Superpave products," says Gehler.

Illinois DOT is taking a number of well-planned steps, including training and round-robin testing, to make sure the State is ready to fully implement the Superpave volumetric mix design procedures in 1998.

Training is a top priority for Illinois DOT. Gehler says that most district mixture design specialists received training on the use of the gyratory compactor last August at ATREL. In December, ATREL provided additional training for Illinois DOT staff and contractors.

Some districts have already designed Superpave mixes, while other districts are still in the planning stages.

"Implementing any change is difficult," says Gehler. "Training is a good vehicle to effect change gracefully."

Illinois DOT conducted round-robin testing on the Superpave procedures in November. Identical mixes were prepared at the central laboratory and sent to the districts, ATREL, and selected contractors. Illinois DOT's central laboratory analyzed the data collected.

Illinois DOT is planning three Superpave demonstration projects for 1996. The mixes will be designed by the DOT's central laboratory with the collaboration of ATREL, the districts, and contractors. Illinois DOT will perform quality assurance tests, and contractors will perform quality control tests, using the gyratory compactor.

FHWA has provided Illinois DOT with on-site technical assistance in setting up and using the gyratory compactors. FHWA's Offfice of Technology Applications Superpave mobile asphalt laboratory visited the State's laboratory last year to help evaluate Illinois DOT mixes to make sure they met the Superpave specifications. FHWA also hosted two workshops for Illinois DOT staff and contractors.

As Gehler noted, change is difficult. However, by committing to the change, and training and preparing staff for the new Superpave environment ahead, Illinois DOT has already taken giant steps forward.

For more information, contact Jim Gehler at Illinois DOT at 217-782-7200(fax: 217-782-2572).

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Updated: 10/19/2015
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