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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / February 1997

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-97-020
Date: February 1997

States, Industry Pledge Continued Support for SPS Experiments

Representatives of highway agencies and industry recently pledged to continue their support for the ongoing long-term pavement performance (LTPP) program and to seek additional project sites for the program's Specific Pavement Studies (SPS) experiments. The pledge came at a meeting initiated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Task Force on SHRP Implementation.

The Task Force had invited representatives of State highway agencies, industry, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and FHWA to discuss the LTPP program and the 35 additional projects needed to complete the 6 SPS studies on structural factors, environmental effects, and rehabilitation techniques. Because the SPS findings will be used in the development of new design guidelines for constructing and rehabilitating pavements, performance data must be collected from SPS experiments in all regions of the country; this will allow the design guidelines to take into consideration varying climates, soils, and other conditions.

The representatives prepared and endorsed a memorandum of understanding, which was later signed by senior representatives of AASHTO, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Trucking Associations, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Stone Association, TRB, and FHWA.

Until now, SPS projects have been constructed solely by State highway agencies. The memorandum of understanding expands the focus to include private-sector organizations and trade associations. For example, access roads to commercial plants, corporate headquarters, universities, and other facilities could serve as sites for SPS projects.

The application process is straightforward. A detailed description of the location, layout, and traffic load of the proposed project site; a project design meeting the SPS experiment criteria; and a construction plan are submitted to the regional LTPP coordination office. The coordination office reviews the application and reports its recommendations to FHWA's Pavement Performance Division, which is responsible for managing the LTPP studies. The Pavement Performance Division then decides whether the project meets the criteria for inclusion in the SPS experiments.

The deadline for SPS applications has been extended to June 30, 1997. To allow sufficient time to collect data before the LTPP program comes to an end, all projects must be constructed and open to traffic by December 1998.

The original plans for the 6 SPS experiments on structural factors, rehabilitation techniques, and environmental effects called for 106 projects spread throughout the 4 climatic regions of the country. Currently, only 26 projects are still needed.

At their meeting, the representatives recommended an end to recruitment of sites for the SPS-7 experiment, which studies bonded portland cement concrete (PCC) overlays on concrete pavements. The SPS-7 experiment has generated little interest on the part of highway agencies and industry. Only 3 of the 12 projects called for in the experiment plan have been built. Nonetheless, FHWA expects the experiment to yield important information on constructing bonded PCC overlays.

Charlie Churilla of FHWA's Pavement Performance Division says the memorandum makes industry a much more important partner in the LTPP program. "In the past, the principal participants in the dialog on the LTPP program have been States, Provinces, and FHWA. Industry has always been invited to the table, but this recent meeting was the first time that industry was a key part of the dialog. This partnership will be very useful as the LTPP program moves from conducting research to producing products."

Bob Templeton, chairman of the AASHTO Task Force on SHRP Implementation, notes that the memorandum strengthens the partnerships that are at the heart of the LTPP program. "It furthers the work begun by the National Quality Initiative in 1992, which focused attention on the benefits to be gained from industry-agency partnerships, and it reinforces the need for State highway agencies, FHWA, and industry to partner in order to deliver the best products for the taxpayers."

For more information on the memorandum of understanding, contact Bob Templeton at Texas DOT (telephone: 512-305-9504; fax: 512-463-0283; email: btemple@mailgw.dot.state.tx.us) or Charlie Churilla at FHWA (telephone: 703-285-2355; fax: 703-285-2767; email: charles.churilla@fhwa.dot.gov).

For more information on participating in the SPS experiments, contact your local LTPP regional coordination office.

The LTPP program is a 20-year intensive study of in-service pavements across North America. Its purpose is to provide information on the long-term performance of various pavement structures under different maintenance programs, loads, climatic factors, and subgrade soils.

The SPS experiments of the LTPP program focus on the effects of selected maintenance, rehabilitation, and design factors on the performance of specially constructed test sections.

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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