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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-08-006    Date:  Sept/Oct 2008
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-08-006
Issue No: Vol. 72 No. 2
Date: Sept/Oct 2008


Guest Editorial

Infrastructure—The Backbone of America's Mobility

A photo of Gary L. Henderson A photo of Peter J. Stephanos
Gary L. Henderson Peter J. Stephanos

Over the past century, innovations have enabled transportation professionals to construct safer and better roads that last longer. This is no accident. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its partners in the transportation community use long- and short-term strategic planning and the development and deployment of new technologies to make improvements to the safety, operation, and construction of the highway system. Pavements and materials are two of the chief components that form the backbone of America's mobility—literally and figuratively.

The mission of the FHWA pavement and materials program is to provide for a safe and durable pavement network to support the Nation's need for mobility. To carry out this mission, FHWA concentrates on ensuring that the health of the Nation's highway infrastructure remains sound while the system is maintained, rebuilt, and expanded. FHWA is working to plan and deliver a national program that will provide for an infrastructure network that is safe, long lasting, cost effective, sustainable, and maintained effectively with minimal impact on the public.

To plan and deliver the national program, FHWA assesses the current state of the practice, recognizes best practices for advancement, identifies gaps where improved technologies or methods are needed, and defines and evaluates existing risks that need to be mitigated. From this assessment, FHWA develops strategies—including research and development (R&D), implementation, technology transfer, policy, and regulatory actions—to achieve performance objectives for the Nation's pavement network. Throughout this process, FHWA works closely with States, local highway agencies, industry, and academia to deliver the pavement and materials program.

The program focuses on providing innovative solutions that include implementing new, performance-based methodologies for pavement design, using new or alternative materials to achieve longer lasting solutions, developing tools to evaluate the economic benefits of different design solutions, developing advanced tools to better Infrastructure—The Backbone of America's Mobility manage the quality of pavement materials, and increasing use of recycled materials in pavements. Deploying these solutions will help address existing gaps that may be jeopardizing the short- and long-term health of the Nation's pavement infrastructure.

This issue of Public Roads contains two articles on fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP). One article, "Steel Versus GFRP Rebars?" discusses FRP used in a concrete pavement test section in West Virginia. The other article, "The Ongoing Evolution of FRP Bridges" reports on a Texas research project that explored the viability of custom FRP beams. Both approaches are innovative in that FRP technologies address corrosion of these highway elements and thus could extend the life of pavements or bridges. A third article, "Applying AQS in the Highway Industry", discusses total quality management and highlights quality assurance and corresponding measurements.

The need to test and deploy new solutions to managing the pavement network is increasingly critical as highway agencies are challenged today, more than ever, by funding limitations, rising material costs, material shortages, increasing congestion levels, and reductions in a qualified workforce.

Gary L. Henderson


Office of Infrastructure R&D

Peter J. Stephanos, PE


Office of Pavement Technology



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