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Subject: Action: Optimizing Highway Performance: Enhancing Pavement Smoothness Date: September 2, 1998
From: Director, Office of Engineering Reply to:
Attn. of:
To: Regional Administrators
Division Administrators
Acting Federal Lands Highway Program Administrator

In partnership with AASHTO, the Road Profilers Users Group (RPUG), industry, and equipment manufacturers, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is helping to improve roadway smoothness by advancing the state-of-the-art technology in road profiling. Field test and evaluation of various non-contact profilometers and the development and implementation of end product smoothness guide specification for QC/QA are desired.

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the increased accuracy in measuring pavement smoothness by using non-contract profile devices. The FHWA will partner with four to six State departments of transportation (DOTs) to field-test, evaluate, and document the effectiveness of lightweight profiling equipment to be used in quality control and acceptance of both asphalt and concrete pavements. Through these evaluations, the FHWA will facilitate the development of a technical guide that will include information on:

  • The costs and benefits of constructing smoother pavements,
  • The state-of-the-art technology of measuring pavement smoothness, and
  • Guidelines for smoothness measuring for both QC and QA.

Projects being submitted for consideration should be at least 1 mile in length. It is preferred that a curve be included in the 1-mile section. A 0.1-mile section will be selected and five passes will be made with each piece of equipment. This is being done to demonstrate repeatability. At least three non-contact profilers should be used for each evaluation. Proposals should identify type of pavement, specifications and profile devices to be evaluated. Several sample specifications can be made available if desired. Proposals should also note any joint activity with other DOTs or industry. Multiple State submissions are encouraged. State DOT proposals should be submitted by September 21 through the local FHWA Division Office for their review and recommendation.

It is estimated that each field test will cost about $15,000, with multiple State tests reducing the cost per State. Funds may be requested to support field test and evaluation and reporting of your results. Funds are not available for purchasing equipment or constructing a test project. Due to limited FHWA funding, please encourage the States to consider using their State Planning and Research funds to support this program. Please submit your cost estimate by fiscal year to support your request for funds.

Attached is a flyer for your distribution. If you should have further questions, please contract Mr. George Jones at 202-366-1554, by fax at 202-366-9981 or by e-mail at george.jones@fhwa.dot.gov.

/s/ original signed by
Henry H. Rentz


cc: Federal Lands Division Engineers

Updated: 06/27/2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000