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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / July 2007

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-015
Date: July 2007

ProVAL Produces a Smoother Ride in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) optimized its diamond grinding strategy and achieved a smoother ride on a highway construction project recently by using the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Pavement Profile Viewing and Analysis (ProVAL) software. ProVAL allows users to view and analyze pavement profiles collected by inertial pavement profile measurement equipment. It is currently the only software application that can read data from numerous inertial pavement profilers and standardize the data using a common format (see November 2006 Focus). ProVAL's data format was recently adopted as an ASTM International standard, "E 2560-07: Standard Specification for Data Format for Pavement Profile." The new standard will be included in the 2008 Annual Book of ASTM Standards.

ODOT had resurfaced the asphalt pavement on U.S. 23 in southern Ohio and put a new deck on a bridge but the ride was found by its area engineer to exceed the State's acceptable levels. "We decided to diamond grind to correct the problem. We used the diamond grinding simulator in ProVAL to optimize our grinding strategy and help us determine where to grind. It made us smarter about what we were doing," says Brian Schleppi of ODOT. ProVAL's simulation was right on target with the independent calculations performed by ODOT's contractor, Safety Grooving and Grinding, and the actual grinding that was ultimately done for the project.

"I had been introduced to the program but we had never used it before," says Duff Parker of Safety Grooving and Grinding. "It could definitely help you pinpoint areas that needed corrective action. We will be using it in the future."

Diamond grinding for ODOT's U.S. 23 project was performed on June 13, 2007. "Everyone was very pleased with the result," says Schleppi. "We were able to remedy the rideability issues." For the section of the bridge that had the worst ride problem, the International Roughness Index (IRI) calculation was 152. A lower IRI means a smoother ride. The ProVAL simulation predicted an IRI of 108 after grinding, with the actual result being 70. Similarly, the bridge's left wheel path had an IRI of 324, with a predicted result of 208 after grinding. The final result was 128.

ODOT is requiring all of its contractors this year to use ProVAL to calculate pavement smoothness indices.

ProVAL, which traces its origins to FHWA's Long-Term Pavement Performance Program, was first introduced in 2001 as a tool for processing and analyzing pavement profile data. Road profilers use lasers and other technology to measure pavement smoothness, as calculated using indexes such as IRI. ProVAL's new 2.72 version, developed by the Transtec Group, Inc., in Austin, Texas, reflects user requests for new features. Features first introduced in version 2.7 include the ability to customize the software to reflect user preferences. Users can change the main screen, for example, so that it displays the features they use and removes those not needed. Users can also customize the data input and automate the setup selections, as well as define and save specific settings that comply with agency specifications. Another new feature is the Profile Editor. Using this tool, users can edit and filter data sets instantly and export the results to other software programs such as spreadsheets. Version 2.72 has further improved the reporting and table exporting features and enhanced the ability to customize ride statistics.

"ProVAL has gone a long way in optimizing diamond grinding," says John Roberts of the International Grooving and Grinding Association. "Whether it be a bridge deck or pavement, it removes the guesswork and produces a far better product at a far more inexpensive cost. It is a very innovative piece of software."

To download a free copy of ProVAL or to learn more about the software, visit www.roadprofile.com. The Web site also features a list of frequently asked questions on using ProVAL, resource documents, links to more information on pavement profiling and pavement smoothness, and a user forum.

To learn more about ODOT's use of ProVAL, contact Brian Schleppi at ODOT, 614-752-5745 (email: brian.schleppi@dot.state.oh.us). For more information on ProVAL, contact George Chang at Transtec, 512-451-6233, ext. 227 (email: gkchang@thetranstecgroup.com); Mark Swanlund at FHWA, 202-366-1323 (email: mark.swanlund@fhwa.dot.gov); or Bob Orthmeyer at FHWA, 708-283-3533 (email: robert.orthmeyer@fhwa.dot.gov).

Figure 7. Photo. Diamond grinding on U.S. 23. Diamond grinding is performed on the longitudinal construction joint in the left wheel path of a bridge deck on U.S. 23 in southern Ohio. Two trucks and a traffic cone are visible. Figure 8. Photo. Bridge deck on U.S. 23. A view of the bridge deck after diamond grinding was performed.
Left: Diamond grinding is performed on the longitudinal construction joint in the left wheel path of a bridge deck on U.S. 23 in southern Ohio. Right: The bridge deck after diamond grinding was performed, greatly improving ride quality.

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