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Publication Number: FHWA-SA-97-026
Date: August 1997
After taking the LTPP program from its infancy through its adolescence, the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) program's regional engineers have decided to relinquish the reins. Over the past 9 months, three of the four regional engineers-Cal Berge, Ivan Pecnik, and Morris Reinhardt-have retired, and the fourth-Dick Ingberg-says he plans to retire next month. The four men were instrumental to the successful startup and operation of the 20-year study.
The position of regional engineer was created in 1988 when the LTPP program got under way as part of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). The job included recruiting sites for the LTPP experiments, assisting States in building those sites, and coordinating LTPP activities among State highway agencies, FHWA, and the LTPP regional coordination offices. The regional engineers also served as a sounding board for States on issues arising from the construction and monitoring of LTPP sites.
"We were the eyes and ears for the entire SHRP program, not just the LTPP program," says Berge, who became regional engineer for the Western LTPP Region in 1988.
Pecnik, who had served as regional engineer for the North Atlantic LTPP Region since the program's inception, says the program is in good hands. "The LTPP program is being driven by dedicated people who have their goals and objectives firmly in mind," he says. "I think we served our purpose."
Reinhardt, who became regional engineer for the Southern LTPP Region in 1994, agrees. "If we've done our job, the foundation of the program should be pretty well set," he says. "The key now is for all the FHWA field offices to continue this commitment and maintain those close relationships with the States. Because without the States, the program will not survive."
The engineers look back with pride on their time with the LTPP program. "Thanks to the LTPP program, people now understand the importance of research," says Ingberg, who is regional engineer for the North Central LTPP Region. "For example, as a result of this study, the United States has the best weigh-in-motion systems in the world. Although many people will say that this is a research tool only, developments like this have real-world applications that can improve pavements."
"The regional engineers have been the human face of the LTPP program," says Neil Hawks of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), who managed the LTPP program under SHRP and who now works closely with FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on its operation. "They have had to know everything, go everywhere, talk to everyone. They have been the interpreters to translate the needs of researchers into practical responses from agencies and to explain the limitations of agency reality to the researchers. It is testimony to their skills that 10 years into the program, participation is still at 100 percent and enthusiasm is still high."
With the retirement of the LTPP engineers and a growing need to deliver the findings of the LTPP data analysis, FHWA considered how to best serve this need in the future. With concurrence from the AASHTO Task Force on SHRP Implementation and the TRB-LTPP Committee, FHWA has decided that the regional engineers' duties will be assumed by two full-time FHWA engineers working in its regional field offices.
"A working knowledge of the LTPP program is certainly important, but so is extensive experience in developing and nurturing partnerships among highway agencies," says Charlie Churilla, head of FHWA's Pavement Performance Division, which oversees the LTPP program. "Their function will be to continue in the tradition of the four departing regional engineers and to foster the flow of information among the States and FHWA, to be a primary contact for the States, and to actively involve FHWA's division offices in the LTPP program."
Until the two new LTPP engineers are named, the project managers in the LTPP regional coordination offices will assume the duties of the regional engineers.
LTPP Regional Coordination Office Contacts
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