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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / March 2002

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-02-008
Date: March 2002

Midwestern States Partner to Preserve Pavements

Pavement Preventive Maintenance (PPM) is getting a Midwestern twist, as highway agencies, trade associations, and members of academia in the region unite to find new ways to apply PPM techniques to roads subject to the freezing weather conditions common in their States.

While transverse cracking, moisture-induced damage, and other cold climate pavement distresses occur to some degree in other parts of the United States, Midwestern States are particularly hard hit because of their climatic conditions. To address these common problems, highway agencies in the region formed a partnership last year to improve the technical aspects of PPM application in their States. PPM is defined as a planned strategy of applying cost-effective treatments to a structurally sound roadway to preserve the system and retard future deterioration.

The founding meeting of the Midwestern Pavement Preservation Partnership was hosted in Grand Rapids in April 2001 by the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT). Participants came from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin to summarize the status of PPM in their respective States and share the techniques that work for them. The 60 attendees formed work groups and identified and ranked issues of importance to them in the areas of preservation policy, construction specifications, research, materials, and training. These high-priority issues include developing performance standards for preservation treatments, determining the proper timing of treatments, improving pavement performance predictions using mechanistic parameters, and implementing ongoing training for workers.

Enthusiasm for what the partnership will bring to States was voiced by participants. "I feel the pavement preservation partnership can become as beneficial to States in the future as the asphalt user-producer groups were during the implementation of Superpave," said Nebraska highway engineer Wayne Teten, whose own Department of Roads began formally implementing a preventive maintenance program in 2001.

Some of the specific goals suggested for the partnership relate to the PPM techniques of microsurfacing and crack sealing. Although the process is becoming more popular among State highway agencies, microsurfacing specs vary from State to State. If the partnership, along with suppliers and contractors, is able to agree on a uniform standard, a more economical and consistent process could be developed. Similarly, with crack sealants, there are small variations among States in the application criteria, field performance criteria, and in the product itself. Having a uniform standard would yield a more cost-effective use of resources and lower bid prices for work, according to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) pavement engineer Keith Herbold.

Another potential benefit resulting from the partnership's work, says Herbold, is that by broadening the exposure of members of academia to the practicalities of implementing a PPM program, universities will be able to better prepare the highway engineers of tomorrow.

Initial funding for the partnership's organizational work and first meeting came from FHWA's Midwestern Resource Center and the Foundation for Pavement Preservation. The partnership has proposed that subsequent funding come from State highway agencies, with in-kind support provided by vendors, consultants, and universities.

The partnership will hold its second meeting in Minneapolis from August 19-21. For more information on the partnership or to participate in its next meeting, contact Keith Herbold at FHWA, 708-283-3548 (email: keith.herbold@fhwa.dot.gov).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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