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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / March 1996

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-96-014
Date: March 1996

Superpave Centers Meet to Define Roles

Now that the five regional Superpave centers are outfitted with the full range of Superpave test equipment, how will they be used to jump-start the move to the next phase of Superpave implementation? What will their roles be? How will they be financed?

These questions were among those discussed at a coordination meeting held in January for the Superpave regional centers. The meeting, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and held at the National Asphalt Training Center in Lexington, Kentucky, brought together representatives from State highway agencies, FHWA field offices, and the universities hosting the Superpave centers.

The regional centers were established through a government-industry partnership. Their initial objective is to test and evaluate the Superpave shear tester and the indirect tensile tester, which are used to predict the performance of Superpave mixes.

"The performance prediction aspects of the Superpave system lie on the cutting edge of the asphalt research area, and the Superpave centers will be instrumental in helping us analyze the Superpave shear tester and the indirect tensile tester," says FHWA's John Bukowski. "The data from the centers will enable us to answer questions about how various materials can be used."

The centers will offer technical assistance, training, and laboratory testing on a regional basis. They will also support the ongoing long-term pavement performance (LTPP) studies.

To help get the centers up and running, FHWA lent each center a complete set of Superpave test equipment. Each center is, however, autonomous and must provide its own funding. The training and laboratory assistance programs will generate some funding. Other strategies include soliciting support from the States served by each center; setting up mutually beneficial programs, such as a loaned staff program; and establishing pooled-fund mechanisms.

The success of the regional Superpave centers hinges largely on the degree of cooperation between the State departments of transportation, the asphalt user-producer groups, the universities, and industry. The centers are intended to create regional partnerships and a sense of ownership among all who have a stake in the Superpave system.

"One of the biggest things a Superpave center can do is serve as a clearinghouse and be a source of information for the States and industry," says Rebecca McDaniel, technical director at the North Central Superpave center in West Lafayette, Indiana.

In one example of the growing partnerships between the centers and State agencies, the centers in Texas and Nevada will jointly present a Superpave training program for the Wyoming Department of Transportation in April.

Such partnership ventures should increase as the centers become more firmly established. "The meeting was a good starting point for encouraging dialogue between top management of the host States, FHWA division administrators, Superpave center staff members, asphalt user-producer groups, and industry," says Bukowski. "Most people left the meeting with plans to enter into an intra-State discussion to come up with answers as to what steps to take next."

For more information contact John Bukowski at 202-366-1287 (fax: 202-366-7909).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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