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Technology transfer is the process of moving the results of research and
development from the laboratory into practice. FHWA has long been recognized as one of the world leaders in
highway engineering technology and has always been very open and generous in sharing its knowledge and expertise
with others. The FHWA's current emphasis on implementation activities continues an evolution that began
before the turn of the 20th century when its predecessor, the Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) was established.
Research and technology transfer were two of the principal missions of the ORI and are, in fact, the oldest
continuous FHWA activities.
Since the days of the ORI, the need for technology transfer in the highway program has become even more established. The FHWA Geotechnology Program has been cited by FHWA's top management as a model for others to follow. The current program reflects the philosophies of the older programs that pioneered these activities, and utilizes some of the newer and more sophisticated ideas for marketing new technology into the 21st century.
The FHWA's technology transfer mission is to ensure the timely identification and assessment of innovative research results, technology, and products, as well as the application of those that are determined to be of potential benefit to the highway community. These technologies and products are developed, implemented, and promoted with the FHWA's partners in State and local agencies, private industry, universities, and others in the national and international highway communities.
It is clear that technology transfer has always been an integral part of the FHWA mission. Recently, the highway network in the United States has experienced numerous changes. The traffic on our highways has grown to the point that many of them routinely are congested. At the same time, the Interstate Highway System is virtually complete, and new highways are only infrequently being built, while many existing miles are wearing out. One answer to these concerns is introducing new technologies to the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and resurfacing of existing highways as well as to the construction of new highways. The Nation is faced with doing a better job with the highways that it has.
While the FHWA has a strong and growing technology transfer program across the United States, the success of the program is dependent on other public and private organizations advancing the agency's efforts further in the highway community. The FHWA technology transfer process actually begins during the research and development stages when researchers begin to think about how and where their new technology will be phased into practice. A technology transfer specialist is brought in to thoroughly assess the research and development efforts to help devise an implementation strategy to get the research and development to the appropriate users.
In the case of existing technology that is developed by sources outside FHWA, the researchers become involved either in the identification process or later in the test and evaluation process. They also stay involved during the implementation and marketing stages to assist with any technical problems that may arise. A key step in the whole process is the identification of new and innovative technologies that have high potential for successful application in the United States highway program.
In addition to the normal avenues for discovery, the FHWA uses a "scouting" and "scanning" approach to technology discovery. Scouting is a military term that refers to the activities of a person or small group that goes on ahead of the main body to evaluate future prospects and gather information that will be useful for down the road decision making. Whenever our researchers and technology transfer specialists are visiting other domestic or foreign places of interest, they keep their ears and eyes open to learn about new technology that might be of interest and useful for possible application in the FHWA Geotechnology Program.
When an interesting new technology is discovered by one of our "scouts," a small group of experts is formed to conduct a "scanning" review. They begin by making an office engineering review and developing a plan to visit several organizations in one or more countries to gather detailed information. Sometimes, as part of these reviews and discussion, research and technology transfer partnerships are developed to further benefit the FHWA and its partner of choice.
In the case of new foreign technology that looks very promising, a plan of testing and evaluation will be developed to investigate the behavior and cost-effectiveness of these new techniques, materials, and/or equipment products. While these evaluations are going on, an implementation and marketing plan is also being developed. In some cases it may be necessary to conduct further field trials of these ideas, methods, practices, or products beyond the research testing and evaluation phase, in which case they are turned over to a special "Experimental Projects Program" for evaluation. This program is designed to encourage the construction of particularly promising experimental features to determine if they can be adopted for standard use in highway construction.
7.1 Demonstration Projects Program
Probably the most effective means of technology transfer is to conduct an actual demonstration of how the results of research can be applied to an actual operational situation. In most cases the field engineers do not have the time and resources to properly analyze useful research and translate it into operation. Demonstration projects allow researchers and technology transfer specialists to better communicate with those engaged in field projects. An official Demonstration Projects Program was established by FHWA in 1969 to promote and accelerate the widespread adoption and use of practical highway research results and their application to innovative engineering and construction practices.
The rapid development and increased use of special geotechnical techniques has not occurred without problems and setbacks. Also, the acceptance rate has not been uniform throughout the U.S. highway industry. Some agencies have been slow to adopt some or even any of the new methods, and some methods are very popular in some areas, but not in others. Although many reasons are given by agencies for their reluctance to accept the new technologies, the following are the most frequently cited:
A significant number of engineers are still not aware that some of these techniques exist. The lag time between the emergence
of a new technology and its introduction into a certain geographical area varies, but on average it is too long. There has been
some improvement since the 1980's, but it must continue to improve in the current decade. The lack of adequate performance
history has generated some reluctance in some highway engineers who usually tend to be conservative when it comes to using new
products or techniques. Not many practitioners are quick to volunteer to be "pioneers" in the use of untested or
unproven technology. Most would rather wait to see how things work out somewhere else. Of course, some tend to wait much
longer than necessary.
In some foreign areas where the project "owner" is getting a long-term guarantee from the contractor, the demand for historical performance data is reduced. Historically in the U.S. highway industry, the owner assumes all risk once the project is accepted (shortly after construction is completed), as opposed to European practice where the contractor can be held accountable for the length of the guarantee period. Some U.S. agencies are testing this European practice to see how it works in their domain.
Another cause of implementation delays is that a few of these techniques have patents or other proprietary restrictions associated with their use. These proprietary controls can reduce the attractiveness of the techniques to some highway designers and, in some cases, become contractually awkward.
Still another cause of delay is the lack of suitable design aids. It is one thing to be aware that these methods exist, but quite another to be adequately informed about their proper use. Many situations have occurred where new techniques have been introduced to the profession without making available adequate design aids and construction guidelines. Unless the practitioners can see that user-friendly design tools are available, some will naturally shy away from using the new technology. Research and technology transfer efforts play an important role in reducing this reluctance on the part of the practitioners.
And finally, one of the biggest challenges facing the technology transfer program and implementation activities for geotechnical and ground treatment techniques is the elimination of various technical concerns expressed by the practitioners. For example, many are still concerned about the effect of corrosion on the design life of reinforced soil structures that use metallic materials as the reinforcing elements. By the same token, the durability of geosynthetic reinforcement material needs to be examined in greater detail. The lack of reliable quality control procedures for many ground treatment methods has discouraged their use in many cases. And overly restrictive environmental criteria have sometimes influenced decisions not to select particular ground treatment methods.
The lack of early consideration by the practitioners in the design process also makes a big difference. Too often these techniques are only considered as a last resort, which places them at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
In an attempt to deal with these problems, the FHWA has developed a team approach utilizing personnel
and resources from the Research, Development, and Technology Transfer programs to tackle these issues. Research has provided answers
for developing improved methods and devices that practitioners can use to solve their problems. A series of demonstration projects
have been established to show how the technology works. Technical experts from FHWA's Operations offices are also very involved in
this team approach and are available to provide technical assistance to the practitioners during the design and/or construction phases
of any project. Funding is also made available to instruct, monitor, and report the results of new experimental features that are
incorporated into the highway project. High-speed electronic communication and Internet availability of the FHWA technology
information is also important to the implementation efforts.
Education and training are also an important part of this effort. Workshops and courses are developed and sponsored by FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI) to teach practitioners how to use the technology. Instructor's handbooks and student workbooks have been prepared to aid the educators in conducting the training sessions. Slides, view-graphs, videotapes, and other training aids have also been developed for use in the courses. The FHWA geotechnical team of practitioners, researchers, and implementors provide expert guidance to the NHI staff members during development and conduct of these courses.
The main elements of the solution process can thus be summarized as follows:
In a multilevel government, a network encompassing Federal, State, and local government; universities;
private industry; and highway organizations is critical to the speed of delivery and adoption of new technology. Technology
transfer requires a structured program with champions from throughout the highway community who will convey the technology in
There must also be a simple vision that everyone can relate to and support; the new technology must make sense to the users and have a favorable cost-benefit. It also takes follow-up efforts to ensure that the technology progresses to all appropriate users, that those users have all the information they need to implement the technology, and that the technology is applied and becomes a part of the state of the practice. Additionally, the State must be permitted to be flexible and innovative; if users of the technology are not stifled, they will probably change what you give them into something better.
Technology transfer is just as important today as it was 100 years ago. The problems are just as real, and the need for solutions is just as pressing. Today, the technology is micropiles, geosynthetics, soil nailing, deep soil mixing, and other innovations we must have for the 21st century.
7.5 Examples of Success
The most direct and effective measure of success of any research effort is the application of
research results in practice. During the past 10 to 15 years, the results of FHWA research in geotechnical areas have been
incorporated into highway practice by the development of specifications and guidelines for the design of foundations, retaining
walls, buried structures, and ground improvement techniques. The following brief summary will serve to highlight some of these
contributions that have had a major impact on improving the state of the practice as well as the state of the art.
NCHRP Project 12-35; "Recommended Specifications for the Design of Foundations, Retaining Walls and Substructures" was initiated in 1989 with the intent of developing recommended revisions for sections 4, 5, and 7 of the AASHTO Bridge Specifications. The topical areas addressed during the project included spread footing, driven pile, and drilled shaft foundations (Section 4); gravity, semi-gravity, cantilevered, and anchored retaining walls, and mechanically-stabilized earth (MSE) and modular (or bin) wall systems (Section 5); and piers and abutments (Section 7). Project tasks included: (1) a data and literature search; (2) evaluating the information and preparing an outline for the recommended specifications; (3) submitting an Interim Report for comment by the review panel; (4) preparing the recommended specifications and commentary incorporating review comments; (5) identifying other articles of the Specifications affected by the proposed revisions; and (6) preparing a Final Report. The Final Report was submitted in 1990 and the recommended revisions were published as the 1991 Interims to the AASHTO Bridge Specifications.
The work completed for NCHRP 12-35 represents a significant testimonial to the value of FHWA's geotechnical research program. At the time this work began, the AASHTO Specifications did not contain any articles or provisions for drilled shaft foundations, tolerable movements of bridges, or for retaining walls other than gravity walls. In fact, the provisions for retaining wall design were limited to a single page of the Specifications. As a result, whereas some portions of the work entailed only minor revision of the existing articles, others required substantial effort, including development of entirely new articles. The following sections highlight the application of this work, with emphasis on the contributions made by FHWA geotechnical research.
7.5.1 Foundations -
Revisions and additions to the provisions for the design of spread footings incorporate the results of Gifford, et al. (1987),
Moulton, et al. (1985), Moulton (1986), and Lam and Martin (1986) (27,3,4,72). Gifford, et al. (1986) was directed toward
documenting the settlement performance of bridge abutments and piers supported on spread footings founded on sand and using
the data acquired to evaluate the accuracy of various published methods for estimating settlement of footings on granular
soils (Article 22.214.171.124.2 Elastic Settlement). Moulton, et. al. (1985) and Moulton (1986) were referenced in Article 126.96.36.199.5
to provide guidance for estimating tolerable movements of simple- and continuous-span bridges when this type of information is
not available from the bridge designer. Lam and Martin (1986), which describes procedures for developing ground and seismic
parameters and for evaluating ground stability, is referenced in Article 4.4.10 for the design of footings subjected to dynamic
and seismic loading.
Since the provisions for the AASHTO Specifications were relatively complete and well established for driven piles, the work consisted mostly of adding articles to incorporate recent analytical and technological developments. Principally, this consisted of research related to the design of laterally loaded piles (Reese, 1984), allowable stresses in piles during driving and under service loads (Davisson, et al., 1983), and the use of wave equation analysis (e.g., Goble, et al., 1986) to evaluate pile driveability (22, 11,12). Recommendations by Davisson, et al. (1983) to qualify allowable stresses under service loads based on the pile damage potential from subsurface conditions expected during driving were incorporated in the development of Article 188.8.131.52. Article 4.5.11 incorporates recommended maximum allowable driving stresses for steel and concrete piles recommended by Davisson, et al. (1983). Wave equation analysis (e.g., Goble, et al., 1986), which is used to model the soil-pile-hammer system, is included as Article 4.5.9 of the Specifications as a complement to the use of dynamic monitoring (Article 4.5.10) used to evaluate pile structural integrity, stress levels, pile and drive system performance, and pile capacity.
Because the design of drilled shafts was not addressed in previous editions of the AASHTO Specifications, all current provisions were developed as part of NCHRP 12-35. As a result, a substantial portion of the drilled shaft provisions incorporate design recommendations presented by O'Neill (73). This study resulted in the development of a manual describing design methods and construction procedures for drilled shaft foundations. In addition, reference is made in the articles to other FHWA-sponsored research, including Reese (74). Article 184.108.40.206 is a series of provisions for the geotechnical design of axially loaded drilled shafts in soil. The provisions are based on design procedures presented by Reese and O'Neill (1988), which incorporate the results of full-scale load tests on instrumented drilled shaft foundations. Provisions for considering the effects of group action (Article 220.127.116.11.4) and vertical ground movement (Article 18.104.22.168.5), such as from negative loading and expansive soil, were also developed from procedures presented in O'Neill (73) and Reese (74). Design for lateral loading is addressed in Article 22.214.171.124 and incorporates the results of Reese (74) as described previously, which can be used to evaluate the effects of shafts extending through sloping ground.
7.5.2 Retaining Walls -
As mentioned previously, the content of the previous edition of the AASHTO Specifications only addressed the structural design of
gravity and semi-gravity retaining walls. Accordingly, the current AASHTO Specifications required development of entirely new
provisions to supplement previous provisions, and to address the design of cantilevered and anchored retaining walls, and MSE
and modular wall systems. Discussion below is limited to FHWA-sponsored research for anchored and MSE retaining walls.
The results of FHWA-sponsored research to develop design and construction guidelines (Christopher, et al., 1990) for MSE walls and the durability and corrosion behavior of reinforcements in these walls (Elias, 1990), were used to develop selected design provisions for the current AASHTO Specifications. Important additional guidance for the design of these walls was obtained from the results of NCHRP 24-2 (Mitchell and Villet, 1987). Christopher, et al. (1990) was used in developing provisions for proportioning wall structure dimensions for external stability (Article 5.8.1), the internal stability of inextensible and extensible reinforcements (Article 126.96.36.199), and the design for seismic loading (Article 5.8.10). Design life criteria presented in Elias (1990) were used in developing provisions for estimating corrosion losses for coated and uncoated steel reinforcements (Article 188.8.131.52), and for determining aging and construction damage losses for polymeric reinforcements (Article 184.108.40.206) (32,42).
In addition to the research references cited herein, supplemental information was obtained from the review of numerous other reports which present the results of various FHWA geotechnical research efforts. According to the author of the NCHRP 12-35 report, the results of FHWA-sponsored geotechnical research efforts were a very important component in the development of the revised specifications and guidelines. The most significant contributions were in the areas of spread footings, driven piles, and drilled shaft foundations, and anchored and MSE walls; areas that have received considerable attention during the past decade.
7.6 More Examples of Success
In addition to the incorporation of research results into practice, another measure of success is the
cost-savings that can be attributed to the use of new and innovative geotechnical technologies. Such data are not easy to gather for
a national perspective; however, a few States and some regions have made nominal efforts to quantify these savings.
In 1985, a special 1-day session titled "Cost Savings Through Geotechnology Transfer" was held in conjunction with the Northwest Geotechnical Workshop in Valdez, Alaska. The purpose of the session was to provide documented feedback on the "payoff" of FHWA geotechnology research and implementation efforts. The 10 northwestern States that normally participate in the yearly workshop were each asked to provide a minimum of 3 case history cost-saving examples. Forty-three cost-saving examples were presented with a combined savings totaling $76 million. Many of these examples involved ground treatment technologies that had been introduced to the region during the previous 5 years. These examples are a small random sampling that did not represent the full measure of cost-savings attributable to the FHWA efforts. However, it does give an indication of the significant "payoff" that is being realized.
In recent correspondence (1994) between the Secretary of the Washington State DOT and the FHWA, the Washington DOT engineers estimated that highway construction savings from the FHWA's Durability of Geosynthetics study could be on the order of $70 million per year nationwide, which translated to $1 million to $2 million per year in savings for the State of Washington alone, based on current program levels. Considering that the current total cost of this research project is only $1.3 million, this appears to be a very profitable investment of research funds.
In another letter to FHWA from the Colorado Transportation Institute, it was noted that earth reinforcement technologies are a good example of actual and potential cost-savings that have resulted from FHWA research and implementation efforts. On the basis of their experience, they have conservatively estimated that State DOT's can save approximately $700 million annually with full implementation.
In a feature article in the December/January 1992 issue of the Association of Drilled Shafts Contractors (ADSC) magazine called Foundation Drilling, the editor, Scot Litke, credited FHWA research with valuable contributions to improving the state of the practice and saving money. Mr. Litke is also the Executive Director of ADSC. The following excerpts from this article amplify these credits.
"The latest in a series of Federal Highway Administration drilled shaft research projects has just been announced. The area of investigation is a direct outgrowth of the agency's Research Review Board process. This evaluation arm of the FHWA includes prominent representatives from the field of deep foundations engineering and construction. The ADSC is represented by ADSC Director Bud Stebbins, Chairman of the Association's Research Committee, and by the ADSC Executive Director. The Review Board recommends and evaluates proposed areas of foundation research that will be considered by the FHWA and the transportation industry. The FHWA is the funding agent.
As an agency the FHWA continues to demonstrate an extremely high level of "inconclusiveness." This is to say the agency actively seeks the recommendations of those engineers and contractors who ultimately will undertake the projects either partially or fully funded by the agency. Rather than set itself outside of the mainstream of highway construction, the FHWA gets right in the middle, and that applies to its activities in all aspects of highway design and construction, from basic materials testing, to sophisticated design modeling. The FHWA's commitment to technology transfer (education) is a model for all government agencies to follow.
Much of what has come before has been reported in Foundation Drilling magazine. As more data on current projects becomes available it will be thoroughly reported. Now we move to a new area of investigation, that of Load Transfer on drilled foundations and earth retention systems. In these two areas, the level of cooperation has been remarkable, the end result of which is a more cost effective product for the taxpayer.
Once again, the FHWA has demonstrated its forward thinking modus operandi. The ADSC is pleased to be a fully contributing partner to FHWA research projects."
The "Research Review Board" referenced by Mr. Litke in the article is the "Geotechnology Research Specialty
Committee" established by the FHWA program manager to assist in the decision-making process and planning for research programs.
In addition to foundation specialists from industry, the committee also had representatives from FHWA field offices, SHA's, ASCE,
TRB and NSF.
In a November 20, 1996, letter from Mr. Litke, he quoted specific cost savings attributable to an FHWA research study, plus references to other successful studies funded by FHWA. The letter is re-printed herein.
"I am writing in reference to a research project entitled, "The Effects of Free Fall Concrete in Drilled Shafts," funded, in part, by the FHWA Geotechnical Research Division. ADSC: The International Association of Foundation Drilling was the co-funder of the project. Once the research was completed, the ADSC's Technical Library Service published a full report, which was then circulated widely to the Bridge and Geotechnical Divisions of State Departments of Transportation and FHWA Regional Offices throughout the United States.
In the three years since the report was published, we have determined that, in almost every case, specifications relative to the free fall method of concrete placement for drilled shaft construction were changed significantly. Our follow-up analysis has found that this much more economical method of concrete placement has resulted in savings to State Departments of Transportation bridge projects in excess of $500,000.
During the past ten years, there have been a number of other research projects for which the ADSC and the FHWA have been the participating funding organizations. Included in this long list are projects focused on Non-Destructive Evaluation; Development of a National Load Test Data Base; Load Transfer in Intermediate Soils; Mathematical Characterization of Anomalies in Drilled Shaft Construction; Load Transfer Mechanisms in Soils; and a host of other studies that have had direct impact on developing more reliable and cost-effective drilled foundation systems. The end result is literally millions of dollars in construction cost savings.
In that the ADSC's research mandate is to only fund projects that have the potential of directly cutting construction costs, the Association appreciates having the FHWA as a co-funding partner. The ultimate beneficiary of this important work is the American public.
We look forward to a continued, mutually-beneficial relationship."
In 1995, a series of letters were written to the Federal Highway Administrator, Mr. Rodney Slater, expressing concern
over significant budget cuts and perceived downsizing of the Geotechnical Research Program. In addition to urging
renewed emphasis on this area, these letters contained very flattering testimonials about the benefits received from
previous FHWA efforts. These accolades came from other government agencies, private research institutes, academia,
SHA's and the private sector, in an effort to show their appreciation for the contributions made by FHWA to improve
geotechnical engineering for highways, other transportation modes, and the Nation's entire infrastructure program.
Brief excerpts are presented from a few of these letters to illustrate the broad support and respect for this program. They can be considered as one more measure of success.
Ms. Laurinda Bedingfield, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Highway Department, said:
"During the past year, the Massachusetts Highway Department supported geotechnical research programs in the order of 13.5% of our total research investment. While each state has its own special problems, the research on the Federal level is influenced by a national need and, as a result, has a much greater impact and is more cost effective. The ongoing Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project in Massachusetts is a prime example of the critical importance of geotechnical engineering in transportation projects, and of the contribution of a Federal research program in that area."
Mr. James E. Roberts, Director of Engineering Services and Chief Structural Engineer for the California Department of Transportation, said:
"A strong FHWA leadership role in geotechnical research is essential in supporting the design of effective Federal and State Highway programs. FHWA geotechnical research has resulted in the successful development and improved application of micropiles, soil nailing, reinforced soils, geosynthetics, pile groups, and spread footing foundations. These technologies have had a favorable effect on engineering design and construction practice with large cost savings.
I am obviously interested in the FHWA geotechnical research program for selfish reasons. However, the cost avoidance in future damage repair is many times the current cost of properly engineered structure and embankment design. That design must be supported by geotechnical engineering resulting from research. The savings are universal throughout the United States."
Professor Frank Townsend, University of Florida, and President of the U. S. Universities Council of Geotechnical Engineering Research, which represents more than 100 universities said:
"The FHWA's Geotechnical Research Program has been the premier organization in introducing new developments and technologies in the United States. As such it has impacted the U.S. engineering and construction industry far beyond the transportation sector."
Dr. Robert M. Koerner, Director of the Geosynthetic Research Institute, said:
"Please be advised that I consider FHWA's Geotechnical Research Program the most innovative and rewarding program to taxpayers of all federal programs that I know of. This is based on my 30 years of research and development interfacing with virtually every branch of government; federal, state, and local. The feedback and accountability of infusing new and economical concepts and ideas into the transportation sector is exemplary. This FHWA program should actually be "show-cased" to others as being the way to conduct research for other agencies to follow."
Professor Paul Mayne of Georgia Tech said:
"The innovative and progressive research directed by the Geotechnical Program at TFHRC has been an important contribution to our nation's infrastructure...Before entering Academia, I worked as a professional engineer for 11 years. I can personally vouch that the FHWA GT Program has funded and engaged in research of direct practical and economical benefits to the U.S. Public...Now as an educator, I find the efforts and accomplishments of this program to be valuable assets for teaching and education of our new and upcoming civil engineers . In closing I consider the FHWA GT program to be one of the most outstanding research organizations in the U.S."
Dr. Frazier Parker, Director of the Alabama Highway Research Center, said:
"FHWA Geotechnical Research has played an essential role in funding innovative and important geotechnical research. This research has greatly influenced highway design and construction practice in the U.S. and the world, and it would be a blow to good engineering if the geotechnical research effort were diminished."
Dr. Ara Arman, Vice President of Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Inc., said:
"The Geotechnical Division of the Turner-Fairbanks laboratory has been well recognized, nationally and internationally, as being a major force and resource in the development of practical, readily applicable geotechnical research. Their work has, throughout the years been translated into untold millions of dollars in savings in design and construction. As you are aware foundations and geotechnical portions of transportation facilities are often the most costly items. There are many examples that one can show where not only large amounts of tax dollars were saved because of the innovations introduced by FHWA but a number of new businesses and permanent jobs were created."
Dr. William Marcuson, Director of the Geotechnical Lab at WES, said:
" I believe FHWA has made the Geotechnical Engineering Program an international program. Additionally, I believe the accomplishments of this program have been substantial and are producing a positive image of your organization in the engineering community."
Professor Dov Leschinsky, University of Delaware, said:
"I have witnessed the development of new earth structures that cost less than half of the price of their conventional equivalents, and have a life expectancy twice as long (e.g., reinforced earth retaining walls and slopes). Surely such innovative structures save the tax payers billions of dollars when implemented by the various state DOTs. However, state DOTs, and many federal agencies (e.g., EPA, USCOE, USDA) will not implement new technologies without the "stamp of approval" of the FHWA's Geotechnical Engineering Research Center. Simply put, the reputation of this center with regard to engineering thoroughness makes it easier for the public to accept new technologies."
Professor Fred Kulhawy of Cornell University said:
"Under FHWA's capable leadership, much truly innovative basic and applied research has been done to benefit the entire transportation industry. I am not speaking about incremental technology improvements, I am speaking about entirely new technologies being developed and applied. These types of developments have been revolutionizing the entire construction industry. And, I might add, have led to the types of transportation facilities that have performed remarkably well during the recent California and Japanese earthquakes. The Geotechnical Program has been one of FHWA's most effective for a very long time."
Dr. Mehmet Tumay, Director, Louisiana Transportation Research Center and former Director of the National Science Foundation Geotechnical Program, said:
"Our own center counts the geotechnical area as one of its strengths; however, the direction, technical expertise and sponsorship of the FHWA Geotechnical Program remains a key ingredient to our success. This program has been a model, mover, shaker and a team player."
Dr. Herbert H. Richardson, Director of the Texas Transportation Institute, said:
"It is your Geotechnical Engineering Program which is largely responsible for the break through on the wave equation and pile driving analysis in the mid-seventies. In the eighties, it is your Geotechnical Engineering Program and vision which are largely responsible for the increased use of shallow foundations for bridges at very large savings to the taxpayers. In the nineties, it is your Geotechnical Engineering Program being a true international leader with partnerships in China, Europe, and South America."
Dr. Ralph Trapani, President of the Colorado Transportation Institute, said:
"I respectfully ask that you review the contributions from the geotechnical research programs administered over the past several years, and in the context of their overall importance to our national transportation program."
Mr. Scot Litke, Executive Director of ADSC, said:
"The FHWA's Geotechnical Research Program has been a very effective partner in fostering advances in drilled foundation and anchored earth retention design and construction practice. These changes have resulted in literally billions of dollars in savings in the construction of the nation's highway bridges. Private industry has been a co-founder of virtually all of the drilled foundation research and development activities supported by FHWA's Geotechnical Research Program. Without the assistance provided by the Program very little of the cost-saving advances could have occurred."
Professor Don DeGroot of the University of Massachusetts said:
"I could cite many examples of innovative and important developments that have resulted from FHWA sponsored research, but I will limit my comments to just one; a comprehensive case study conducted on the behavior of spread footings on sands. The project represents one of the best case studies ever conducted in our profession and will have a significant impact on the way we design foundations for transportation facilities. In fact, it is already being used by the Massachusetts Highway Department to evaluate their design methodologies. If it were not for FHWA's efforts, both financial and motivational, our practice would not have the benefit of the valuable information that this study generated."
Other letters of testimonial are also on file. From these letters and other reports and documents, it is clear that the FHWA program for research and technology transfer of geotechnical engineering is a vital service to improving highway design and construction, with valuable spin-off to other disciplines of civil engineering and infrastructure renewal. Although much has been accomplished, there is much more that needs to be done. With the recent establishment of the National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites, plus a group of research quality data bases, FHWA is now positioned to make even greater advances in geotechnology that will save many millions of dollars on future highway projects.
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Topics: research, infrastructure, geotechnical
Keywords: research, infrastructure, geotechnical
TRT Terms: research, infrastructure, geotechnical, Soil mechanics--Research--United States, Pavements--Design and construction--Research--United States, Piling (Civil engineering)--Research--United States, Geotechnical engineering, Pile foundations, Rock mechanics, Soil mechanics, Spread footings