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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > March 2007 > Materials Reference Library Provides Aid to Researchers
March 2007Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-011

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Materials Reference Library Provides Aid to Researchers

A wide variety of highway materials are available to State transportation departments and other highway researchers through the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Materials Reference Library (MRL). Maintained by FHWA's Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program, the MRL is a storage facility for loose and core forms of highway materials, including asphalt cement, portland cement, natural aggregates, or a combination of materials. A climate-controlled room at the MRL also houses images of the LTPP test sections on 35-mm film.

"The most common reason for requesting materials is ongoing research projects with FHWA, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and State agencies."

The original MRL facility opened in Austin, Texas, in the late 1980s as part of the first Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). "The purpose of the MRL was to create a storage or warehouse facility for many of the pavement and subsurface materials that were being sampled during the General Pavement Study (GPS) and Specific Pavement Study (SPS) experiments of the LTPP program," says Jack Springer of FHWA. Seeking to avoid the shortage of materials available for future research that occurred after the American Association of State Highway Officials Road Test in the late 1950s and early 1960s, FHWA sought to preserve materials from SHRP for subsequent research.

In 1993, the LTPP program moved the MRL facility to Reno, Nevada. The collection has since expanded to include samples of pavement and subsurface materials from FHWA's WesTrack road test project in Nevada and Crumb Rubber Modifier projects, as well as additional samples from the GPS and SPS test sections.

All of the materials are available to researchers who receive approval from FHWA. "The most common reason for requesting materials is ongoing research projects with FHWA, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and State agencies," says Sirous Alavi of Sierra Transportation Engineers, the contractor that manages the MRL.

Materials can be obtained by completing the MRL Inventory Request Form, which is available on the MRL Web site at www.ste-group.com/mrl.htm. The Web site also includes a detailed listing of available materials. For more information on the MRL, contact Sirous Alavi at Sierra Transportation Engineers, 775-827-4400 (email: sirous@ste-group.com), or Jack Springer at FHWA, 202-493-3144 (email: jack.springer@fhwa.dot.gov).

FHWA's Materials Reference Library in Reno, NV, can provide researchers with a wide variety of highway materials.
FHWA's Materials Reference Library in Reno, NV, can provide researchers with a wide variety of highway materials.

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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