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Team modernizes quality control for pavement construction


May 18, 2009

Modernized guidelines for asphalt pavement construction recently developed by a team of Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering faculty members are gaining attention throughout the country and beyond.

More than 300 transportation officials in government, research and industry recently participated in an online seminar about the guidelines presented by Matthew Witczak, a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, and Mohamed El-Basyouny, an assistant research professor in the department.

In a project for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a division of the National Academy of Sciences, Witczak led an ASU team that has developed algorithms and models for advanced quality assurance and control processes for pavement construction projects.

The guidelines enable construction managers to judge the quality of pavement construction based on processes that assess how well the pavement will hold up over time.

Witczak explains: “The significant difference between this approach and all other quality assurance and control methodologies currently available, is that the ‘as constructed/ plant produced’ properties are used directly to predict the lifespan of the actual pavement structure. This prediction, in turn, is compared to the design life specified by the agency. Thus, the contractor penalty/bonus dollar amounts are developed from a truly rational set of life-performance predictions between the design and the as-built condition.”

The seminar audience included representatives from transportation departments in about 35 states, as well as officials with the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Asphalt Institute and at least 15 construction industry consultants.

In addition, participants included pavement construction professionals from five Canadian provinces, Fiji, Puerto Rico, Vietnam and Sweden.

Based on the progress of Witczak’s team to date, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is providing funding through the NCHRP to continue the research for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.