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Taking the Show on the Road—FHWA Promotes High Performance Materials Usage in Every State

The Grand Canyon. The Washington Monument. The Indy 500. The Bill Clinton Presidential Library. HPM?

Aside from being popular attractions to see while touring the United States, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Indiana, and Arkansas also were host to the Federal Highway Administration's High Performance Materials (HPM) Seminars this spring and past winter. With these seminars, FHWA would like to see these States known for more than just their famous tourist stops.

Whether exemplified by the FHWA Executive Director's challenge that "every State build at least one High Performance Concrete bridge by 2002," or FHWA's National Performance Plan performance measure to "increase the number of States that incorporate high-performance materials and use best practices in design, construction, and inspection of highway bridge projects," the word is out on HPM.

During the past 6 months, the FHWA's Structures Technical Service Team has answered that call and, in response, joined with a cross-section of industry specialists including engineers from the FHWA's Headquarters Bridge Office; Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center's Structures research team; Division Office experts; State DOT personnel; as well as practitioners from the industry and academia to spread the news about the time saved and cost-effectiveness of using HPM in the development of transportation-related structures.

Embraced as innovative technology by countries across the globe, the FHWA's goal is that the use of HPM will become the de facto standard in the implementation of its transportation projects nationwide.

Three main HPM components identified as "key" in the initial HPM informational rollout by the Structures Technical Service Team are Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites, High Performance Concrete (HPC), and High Performance Steel (HPS). These components were the main topic areas of the five seminars delivered in States across the country this fiscal year.

All in all, more than 200 participants from various State DOTs, counties, consulting firms, and the industry attended.

Indiana-Fall 2004

Indiana logoThe tour kicked off in late November 2004, when the Structures Technical Service Team traveled to Indiana where it conducted the HPS seminar for the Indiana Department of Transportation. The seminar had the largest number of attendees, and was considered an overwhelming success based on the number and cross-section of participants, the enthusiasm and quality of information exchanged during question-and-answer periods, and the follow-up actions taken by the Indiana DOT.

In addition, a FHWA survey was given to participants at the conclusion of the seminar, who rated the session a "4" out of a possible "5" measure of excellence.

District of Columbia-Early Winter 2005

Washington Monument Washington, DC, was the next stop on the HPM tour, where the key topic area was FRP Composites Technology.

The 1-day seminar, conducted on January 28, 2005, provided information on FRP materials and rebar issues; FRP mechanics and general design issues; State DOT experiences with FRP bridge deck and superstructure projects, with wrapping/strengthening projects, and other construction issues; and other innovative infrastructure applications. The seminar targeted State, Federal, and local agency DOT personnel who have responsibility for either bridge design, construction, materials, specifications or research; as well as personnel from the contracting and consultant engineering industries, materials suppliers, and academia.

The FHWA's Structures Technical Service Team was pleased that the seminar earned an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 for excellence and generated some significant follow-up discussion regarding the applicability of FRP composites as the State DOT prepares for a congressionally earmarked pedestrian bridge and subsequent bridge projects.

Arizona-Late Winter 2005

Arizona photoArizona was home to the third HPM seminar held this year, and offered two different sessions, including FRP Composites on February 1 and HPC on February 2, 2005.

The FRP composites seminar closely mirrored the session offered in DC a week earlier and was met with great enthusiasm and interest.

The HPC seminar provided information on HPC definitions, benefits, costs, and case studies; HPC materials components including fly ash and silica fume mineral admixtures, and ground granulated blast furnace slag; HPC mix design and construction practices; prescription to performance specifications and quality control/quality assurance provisions; and HPC implementation and experiences by specific State DOTs.

The seminar was intended for State, Federal, and local agency DOT personnel who have responsibility for either bridge design, construction, materials, specifications, or research, as well as personnel from the contracting and consulting industries, materials and concrete ready-mix suppliers, the precasting/prestressing industry, and academia.

The FHWA's Structures Technical Service Team was pleased that attendees surveyed gauged their competencies of HPC issues as raised significantly following their participation in the session.

"Our goal is to have the State DOTs utilize High Performance Materials whenever and wherever possible. Incorporating HP Materials in structures and highway applications will help to ensure a longer-lasting infrastructure with the best utilization of federal dollars."

Joseph E. Chilstrom
Connecticut Division Structural Engineer

Arkansas-Spring 2005

Arkansas was home to the last HPM seminar held this year. Building on the HPC seminar offered earlier this year in Arizona, the session instructors strove to reinforce the FHWA HPC Technology Delivery Team's goal to promote the "full utilization of HPC in all appropriate concrete bridge components, as it becomes part of all States' standard bridge design practices and construction specifications."

Well on its way of achieving the goal of promoting the use of HPM at the State level, the Structures Technical Service Team is looking forward to continuing its mission of informing the FHWA's State, local, and private-industry partners of the benefits of HPM and is eager to offer its services via a visit to any of the States to provide mini-showcase presentations on HPM topics and/or to participate in roundtable discussions of HPM experiences.

For more information, contact:

Lou Triandafilou, P.E.
High Performance Structural Materials Engineer
FHWA Structures Technical Service Team
(410) 962-3648