U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations



Overview of Laboratories


The expertise of our scientists, engineers, and support staff encompasses more than 100 transportation related disciplines and expertise areas. The laboratories housed at the Turner - Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) provide a vital resource for advancing the body of knowledge to help address national transportation goals. The Federal Highway Administration's Exploratory Advanced Research Program is also managed from the TFHRC research facility.


Aerodynamics Laboratory The Aerodynamics Laboratory is used to study the complex interactions between wind and bridges or other highway structures, including design, stability, safety, and performance of highway structures under all combinations of geographical and meteorological wind conditions.
Aggregate and Petrographic Laboratory The Aggregate and Petrographic Laboratory at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center prepares and tests aggregate samples for concrete, asphalt mixtures, and granular base course applications. Testing may consist of physical, durability, and chemical properties. For example the AIMS (Aggregate Imaging Measurement System) is used to characterize aggregate particle shapes, angularity, and texture. The laboratory also uses physical tests and microscopic (petrographic) methods for analysis. For example, the quality of the entrained air-void system in concrete can be measured to assess its effect on freezing and thawing durability, and compliance with air content and spacing factor specifications.
Binder Laboratory The Binder Laboratory studies the flow and deformation of asphalt paving materials. The laboratory's primary mission is to characterize the behavior of paving materials properly such as asphalt binder and fine aggregate mastic.
Bituminous Mixtures Laboratory The Bituminous Mixtures Laboratory specializes in the research of asphalt pavement mixtures. This laboratory supports Federal Highway Administration’s efforts to develop, evaluate and improve materials, mixture design technology and performance-based tests for asphalt paving mixtures.
Chemistry Laboratory Researchers at the Chemistry Laboratory advance the understanding of chemical changes causing road failure or damage (such as aging or deicing salts) and potential performance enhancements; help develop state-of-the-art characterization tools; and test and foster new materials development. The laboratory validates Federal Highway Administration-sponsored offsite research and assists industry and State and Government agencies with forensic analyses and unbiased support.
Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory The mission of the Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory (CCL) is to develop and analyze the effectiveness of innovative coatings test procedures while evaluating the durability of new coating systems, especially environmentally compliant materials for the corrosion protection of steel bridges.
Concrete Laboratory Researchers in the Concrete Laboratory evaluate new test methods, conduct concrete materials research, develop mixture design and analysis procedures for concrete pavements, and provide concrete forensics.
Geotechnical Laboratory The Geotechnical Laboratory is used to study the interactions between soil and structural elements made of steel, concrete, or timber that are used for bridge foundations and retaining wall systems.
J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Research Laboratory The J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Research Laboratory provides a means of testing the hydraulic performance of highway drainage structures and stream crossings, including the hydraulics of bridges, culverts, and storm sewers. The purpose of the laboratory is to solve hydraulic and stream stability problems attendant to highways and to support highway engineers with design guidance and tools.
Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Laboratory The objective of the Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Laboratory is to improve the state of the practice for highway bridge inspection. The laboratory is designed to act as a resource for State transportation agencies, industry, and academia concerned with the development and testing of innovative nondestructive evaluation technologies.
Pavement Testing Facility The Pavement Testing Facility is used for rapid pavement testing of full-scale structures to develop and verify new specifications, designs, and test procedures for rigid and flexible pavements. The facility is used by pavement and highway research engineers to evaluate the durability of both new and existing pavement materials and to help develop smoother and more cost–effective highway systems.
Structures Laboratory The purpose of the Structures Laboratory is to support Federal Highway Administration's strategic focus on improving mobility through analytical and experimental studies to determine the behavior of bridge systems under typical and extreme loading conditions. These experimental studies may also include tests of bridge systems developed to enhance bridge durability and constructability over time. Data from these studies help upgrade national bridge design specifications and improve the safety, reliability, and cost effectiveness of bridge construction in the United States.
Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory The Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory is a national asset at the Federal Highway Administration's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. The Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory serves not only as a laboratory but as a gateway where Federal, contractor, and student researchers can experience a synergy of ideas and experiences.
Arens Photometric and Visibility Laboratory The Arens Photometric and Visibility Laboratory (PVL) conducts evaluations of the photometric and colorimetric properties of traffic control devices, including signing and pavement marking materials and traffic signal lights, and supports human factors research used to establish the required levels that meet the visual needs of drivers.
Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory The Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory (FOIL) is a research facility used to support FHWA’s Safety Research and Development programs and other Federal security initiatives.
Geometric Design Laboratory The mission of the Geometric Design Laboratory (GDL) is to provide technical support to the Office of Safety Research and Development to develop, maintain and enhance the Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM)--a suite of software tools for the safety evaluation of highway geometric design alternatives; and to support the coordination of IHSDM with related tools, including the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) and SafetyAnalyst.
Human Factors Laboratory The purpose of the Human Factors Laboratory is to further the understanding of highway user needs so that those needs can be incorporated in roadway design, construction, repair, and improvement. All of Federal Highway Administration’s strategies for improving safety and enhancing operations throughout the highway transportation system benefit from the appropriate consideration of user needs. Human factors studies consider driver, pedestrian, and special user needs and capabilities.


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Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101