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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / November 1999

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-109
Date: November 1999

Superpave Software Workshop Plays to Good Reviews from Contractors

In July 1999, the Maryland State Highway Agency (SHA) presented a 1-day workshop on the use of the Superpave 2 mix design software, scheduled for release in January 2000 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). To prepare participants for the day of intensive training, the Maryland SHA sent each of five invited asphalt contractors an advance copy of the software.

The contractors were asked to load data on their materials and projects into the software before the training and to bring the software file to the course. This allowed Chuck Schwartz, from the University of Maryland team that refined the software, to provide a step-by-step demonstration of the software using data from actual projects.

Marshall Klinefelter, of David A. Bramble, Inc., found the tutorial a positive experience. "We reviewed the Superpave 2 mix design module, and then we stepped through the mix design process. Using our own data worked out well. I'm already using the software for mixes and quality control."

Klinefelter's response is not isolated, says Larry Michael of the Maryland SHA. The chance to learn while using familiar data, he says, "helped the contractors overcome a lot of doubts. There has been a lot of skepticism about the Superpave software, but the contractors at this workshop gave it a universally favorable response. I would recommend conducting future training in the same way." Saying that the workshop will likely be held again, he adds that the Maryland SHA is incorporating the Superpave software training into the agency's 3-day Superpave mix design training, as well.

Right up to the time of the workshop, reports John Bukowski of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), adjustments were being made to the Superpave 2 program, which is based on the original Superpave software developed in 1993 under the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). AASHTO recently released more than 50 changes to 4 Superpave mix design standards (see "Changes Makes Superpave Mix Design Easier To Use"), and both the workshop and software reflected these changes. With funds provided through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, these changes were incorporated into the software. "Once the software is available to all of the highway community," adds Bukowski, "it will be a big help to State agencies and contractors. It will eliminate much of the paperwork and hand calculations they had to do in the past."

Klinefelter says, "Earlier versions of the software had been cumbersome to use, but it's becoming more flexible now that parameters are being developed into storable templates." He also anticipates "real savings from transmitting the data to the Maryland SHA via the Internet."

Brian Dolan of the Maryland Asphalt Association agrees. "A good many of the software's former problems have been worked out, and it's become contractor friendly. Having a program of software and training that's nationally accepted means we're all using the same language. I'd like to see the Superpave software adopted across the entire country."

For further information on Maryland SHA's software review, contact Larry Michael at 800-477-7453 (fax: 888-678-6243; email: lmichael@sha.state.md.us). For further information on the Superpave 2 software, contact John Bukowski at 202-366-1287 (fax: 202-493-2070; email: john.bukowski@fhwa.dot.gov).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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