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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > October 1998 > Long-Term Pavement Performance Program: Learning Why Pavements Perform as They Do
October 1998Publication Number: FHWA-SA-98-026

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Long-Term Pavement Performance Program: Learning Why Pavements Perform as They Do

In its first decade, the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) program developed a solid, working knowledge base of information on how asphalt and portland cement concrete pavements perform. Pavement engineers and managers are now using that information to replicate past successes and avoid recreating past failures.

As it enters its second decade, the LTPP program intends to build on this knowledge base–to learn why pavements perform as they do. Pavement engineers and managers will thus have the information they need to correct the causes of pavement failures and to improve on past successes. The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Pavement Performance Division, which manages the LTPP program, recently developed a plan that charts the LTPP program's course for further developing this knowledge base over the next decade.

The plan has three interrelated elements. The first is the strategic analysis plan, which establishes a clear focus for analytical activities and drives the data collection activities. Analysis efforts over the next 10 years are laid out in four stages:

  • Assess the quantity, quality, and completeness of the LTPP data.
  • Analyze the cause-and-effect relationships between pavement performance and the site and design characteristics of pavement projects.
  • Assemble performance prediction models by calibrating existing models and developing new models where necessary.
  • Use the performance prediction models to develop practical guidelines and procedures for pavement design and management.

The second element is the data resolution effort (see June 1998 Focus), which seeks to fill gaps in the LTPP database. The effort is nearly completed.

The third element is the monitoring adjustments effort, in which FHWA will work with States and Provinces to adjust the scope and frequency of data collection at LTPP test sections. The need to obtain necessary data will be balanced with the finite resources available for collecting the data. This element will be completed by mid 1999.

The plan was developed with input from the Transportation Research Board LTPP Committee, which advises FHWA on the LTPP program. "We needed something that explained what has happened over the last 10 years, particularly for CEOs and chief engineers," says Committee Chairman Allan Abbott of the Nebraska Department of Roads. "We also needed to show where we were going and how the LTPP program will enable the States to do better pavement design."

For more information, contact Charlie Churilla at FHWA (phone: 703-285-2355; fax: 703-285-2767; email:

FHWA's plan for the LTPP program is described in LTPP: The Next Decade (Publication No. FHWA-RD-98-109).

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Updated: 02/20/2015

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