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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 69 · No. 1 > Achieving Concrete's Full Potential|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-006
Achieving Concrete's Full Potential
by Evelio Suarez and Kevin Hoeflich
The CP Road Map represents a long-term plan for research and technology development for PCC pavements.
For most of the 20th century, engineers used the same tried-and-true materials in designing concrete pavements—portland cement, high-quality aggregate, and water—with only minor refinements. “Designers used a fairly forgiving formula that allowed minor variations in subgrade quality, construction practices, and other variables, without sacrificing pavement performance,” says Director Tommy Beatty of the Office of Pavement Technology at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
During much of that time, the industry enjoyed the luxury of keeping traffic off the new pavements for several days, even weeks, while the concrete developed its internal strength. Over the last 15 years, however, the industry has experienced more changes than in the previous 80 years, turning the process of building concrete pavements on end, Beatty says.
Today’s concrete mix designs, for example, need to integrate a multitude of new materials—including fly ashes and chemical admixtures like water reducers, retarders, and accelerators—which can cause challenges in compatibility and reduce the tolerance for variations in aggregate moisture content, materials temperatures, weather conditions, and other variables.
In addition, motorists are more demanding, tolerating only minimal closures and delays due to roadwork and increasing the need for new paving methods that enable crews to get in, get out, and stay out. And motorists want smoother and quieter pavements, which is pushing the paving industry to exercise greater control on the characteristics of the road surface.
Increasingly, highway agencies are shifting their focus from building new pavements to rehabilitating and maintaining existing ones, which requires different designs, systems, materials, and equipment. Environmental pressures, as well, affect mix designs and construction practices, as crews work to reduce traffic congestion and manage drainage and runoff.
Further, highway budgets are being squeezed at every level, and the pavement community simply must do more with less. “In this environment, the old system for constructing concrete pavements simply does not work anymore,” says Beatty. “To achieve concrete pavement’s full potential in this changing world, the industry cannot continue business as usual.”
To help the industry grow and meet the challenges of the 21st century, FHWA, Iowa State University, and many other partners collaborated to create the Long-Term Plan for Concrete Pavement Research and Technology. Dubbed the CP Road Map, the plan represents a comprehensive and strategic approach to research that will guide investment over the next several years and spawn a new generation of concrete pavements.
What Is the CP Road Map?
“The CP Road Map gives the concrete pavement community an opportunity to proactively reinvent itself through research,” says Peter A. Kopac, research highway engineer at FHWA.
By combining more than 250 research problem statements into 12 fully integrated, sequential, and cohesive tracks of research, the project team expects that the CP Road Map will lead to specific products that will dramatically affect the way that concrete pavements are designed and constructed. The innovative track structure and cross-track integration will at once help the research teams focus on their designated tasks and effectively share information where tasks overlap.
A project team led by Iowa State University prepared the CP Road Map on behalf of FHWA, with backing and participation from stakeholders in the concrete pavement industry, State departments of transportation (DOTs), and academia.
“In a very real sense, the authors of the CP Road Map include hundreds of stakeholders from State DOTs, materials supply companies, construction contractors, research and technology transfer universities, and other organizations,” Kopac says. “For the men and women who face the daily realities and challenges of constructing and maintaining concrete pavements, this is their CP Road Map.”
The project stakeholders will pool their resources to jointly conduct and coordinate the research, and an innovative implementation strategy will help move useful new products and systems into the field quickly.
Drawing a New Map
The Iowa State University-led project team facilitated development of the CP Road Map through a deliberate and inclusive process. First, the team created a “living” database of existing research, cataloging recently completed and inprogress projects and their products. Regularly updated and maintained, the database will serve as a valuable resource for many years.
Next the team gathered face-to-face input from the highway community, identifying research gaps that would become the basis for problem statements. The Iowa team hosted five brainstorming and feedback sessions at major industry events: the October 2003 meeting of the Midwest Concrete Consortium in Ames, IA; a special November 2003 regional workshop for eastern and southern stakeholders in Syracuse, NY; the May 2004 meeting of the American Concrete Pavement Association in Kansas City, MO; a special January 2004 regional teleconference for western stakeholders; and, in October 2004, a final meeting of national stakeholders hosted by FHWA at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, VA.
Through these events, plus presentations at more than 20 professional conferences and workshops across the country, more than 400 engineers and managers provided direct input into the CP Road Map. In addition to the organizations noted earlier, other participants included representatives from FHWA, State and local DOTs, the Portland Cement Association, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Transportation Research Board and National Cooperative Highway Research Program committees, the American Public Works Association, the National Association of County Engineers, contractors, materials suppliers, universities with departments conducting applied research, and private concrete-testing laboratories.
The project team asked the participants to provide their insights in four broad categories: mixtures and materials, design, construction, and pavement management and business systems. Again and again, the stakeholders reported that they need improved analysis tools for measuring performance at every stage of the pavement system. They need to understand how and why pavements fail or succeed. Because variables in each stage affect the others, the methods and tools need to be integrated across stages, from mix and materials to design and construction, and with pavement management and business systems.
Based on these concepts of pavement performance and systems integration, the team proposed the following overall goal for the CP Road Map: By 2015, the highway community will have a comprehensive, integrated, and fully functional system of concrete pavement technologies that provides innovative solutions for customer-driven performance requirements.
With abundant input from industry stakeholders and a strategic goal in hand, the project team identified dozens of specific research objectives and filtered them through the database of existing research to identify where gaps exist. The gaps became the basis for the 250 problem statements, which were added to the research database as work to be accomplished.
Team members organized the problem statements into 12 product-focused research tracks, which together form the long-term research plan. This structure captures the integrated, cross-category nature of the research and encourages stakeholder groups to step forward as champions for specific tracks. Research in one track often affects or is affected by research in another track, so team leaders for each track are responsible for ensuring that research is coordinated and integrated appropriately.
In addition to the defined tracks, the team leaders can sort information in the research database to isolate problem statements on a variety of subjects. Several problem statements, for example, are cross-referenced in multiple tracks, including those related to foundations and drainage systems, maintenance and rehabilitation, and advancements in environmental strategies.
Each of the 12 tracks is a complete research program in itself, with its own budget, two to seven subtracks, and as many as 20 problem statements. Tracks 1 through 9 consist of timed sequences of research leading to particular products that are essential to reaching overall research goals. Tracks 10, 11, and 12 are not phased because timing is not as critical.
One subtrack in every phased track is devoted to training tools and methods of technology transfer to ensure that innovative research products move into practice quickly and efficiently. The team defined the primary research tracks as follows:
Reaching the Destination
Finally, the CP Road Map project team developed a management plan that outlines a progressive, cooperative approach to managing and conducting the research in the long-term plan. Under the management plan, participating organizations identify common interests, partner with one another to leverage funds and human resources, and execute specific contracts.
The research management plan is based on several assumptions. First, the CP Road Map is a national research plan for FHWA, State agencies, and industry, and it is not restricted to any single funding source. “Publicly financed highway research is decentralized and will probably remain so,” says Director Dennis Judycki of the Office of Research, Development, and Technology at FHWA. “In a decentralized arena like research, it is critical for stakeholder groups to come together voluntarily. Federal, State, and industry research staff and engineers around the country are looking for more opportunities to pool their funds and other resources in win-win situations.”
Under the management plan, communication, technology transfer, and outreach activities will avoid the all-too-common disconnect between research results and implementation. “Technology implementation must be elevated to the same level of importance as research itself,” Judycki adds.
Finally, managing the CP Road Map effectively and judiciously will require full-time, dedicated personnel with adequate resources. The CP Road Map project team, therefore, developed a governing structure in the research management plan that outlines a four-tiered system of participation and responsibility.
A three-party executive advisory committee, representing FHWA, State DOTs, and industry organizations, will provide broad oversight. The executive advisory committee will serve as a decision- and policymaking entity and will have the following responsibilities:
An administrative support group will provide professional management services for the executive advisory committee. The administrative group will coordinate and support activities like maintaining the research database.
Team leaders for the research tracks will coordinate and oversee all activities within specific research tracks, such as validating and updating the track, developing broad problem statements into specific research projects, identifying organizations to conduct or partner in the research, and ensuring proper integration of work within the track and across track lines.
Finally, sustaining organizations, which include highway agencies, consultants, universities, professional associations, and other organizations that have specialized interests and skills and are interested in pooling dedicated funds, will assume responsibility for conducting research through cooperation, partnerships, and funding agreements. Sustaining organizations may retain full fiscal and technical control of the work under their jurisdictions.
FHWA intends to implement the roadmap in cooperation with all partners and stakeholders. The CP Road Map project team likens a long-term research program to turning an oceanliner around. The process involves a long, slow sweep. In this case, the team has turned the rudder—the CP Road Map—in the right direction. The next step is to fire the engines, full speed ahead.
“We see the CP Road Map as a living document that will help all of us—FHWA, the States, the concrete paving industry, and other stakeholders—work together to make the most of our investments in concrete pavement research,” says Cheryl Allen Richter, technical director of pavement research and development in the FHWA Office of Infrastructure Research and Development. “We look forward to working with stakeholders throughout the concrete paving industry to maintain the Road Map and—more importantly—fire up those engines to get the research underway.”
The project team invites stakeholders in the concrete pavement industry to get on board. To become involved, please contact Cheryl Richter at 202-493-3070 or Peter Kopac at 202-493-3151.
Theodore R. (Ted) Ferragut coordinated the effort to develop the Long-Term Plan for Concrete Pavement Research and Technology. He is owner and president of TDC Partners, Ltd., a sole proprietorship in Alexandria, VA, that works with government agencies and private companies to move innovative technology into practice in the areas of highway pavement design, construction, maintenance, and performance. Ferragut is a registered professional engineer in Virginia and has a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts.
Dale Harrington administered the long-term research planning effort. He is the former director of the Center for Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Technology at Iowa State University. Harrington has 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors in pavement design, performance evaluation, construction, and rehabilitation. He is a registered professional engineer in Iowa and has a degree in civil engineering technology from Iowa State University.
Marcia Brink is the communications manager for Iowa State University’s Center for Transportation Research and Education, which is the administrative home of the Center for Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Technology and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program serving Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Brink has a master’s degree in English from Iowa State University.
To receive a printed copy of the CP Road Map, contact Peter Kopac with FHWA at 202-493-3151, firstname.lastname@example.org. A draft electronic version of the CP Road Map is available at www.pcccenter.iastate.edu.
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