For almost 30 years, extensive research conducted at MnROAD has provided a vast number of benefits to the state of Minnesota and other state agencies. Aside from these quantifiable and invaluable benefits, MnROAD has had a great impact on educating future pavements engineers—learning what not to do and demonstrating and highlighting technologies that can be used today on our roads.
For the 2022 MnROAD construction effort, research projects will be constructed on the I-94 mainline and are related to flexible and rigid pavement materials as well as geosynthetics, preventive maintenance, and recycling and rehabilitation techniques. These studies align with the goal of the National Road Research Alliance’s (NRRA) focus of sustainability and resiliency as the world moves toward reducing the impact on the environment.
In the vast majority of state agencies, asphalt construction is performed as an overlay or mill and inlay. MnROAD test sections will be used to further understand the performance of hot mix asphalt (HMA) surface mixes in new construction and in reflective cracking scenarios. Understanding HMA surface mixes performance under this scenario will lead to improved design tools. This research project is conducted utilizing asphalt mixes with different asphalt additives that include plastics, crumb rubber, and fibers.
Perpetual pavements sections will be constructed to provide state agency guidance on this type of design by developing/updating the fatigue transfer function for the PerRoad software and validate the software design philosophy under freeze-thaw conditions. Tests sections that will be built next year in Wisconsin will help in this effort and highlight the importance of collaboration between agencies. Half of the section for this research study will be used to install a wicking geotextile with the purpose of improving drainage and stiffness of road foundations. This study will allow us to evaluate short- and long-term performance benefits of recently developed, single-layer wicking geotextiles, and identify best practices for placing wicking geotextiles in roads and improved related specifications.
Reclamation and recycling techniques research study will identify the recycling strategies for repairing existing, stabilized, full-depth reclamation pavements sections at MnROAD. Cold-In-Place Recycling (CIR), Cold Central Plant Recycling (CCPR), and Full-Depth Reclamation (FDR) techniques are great tools for distressed pavements and pavements that need a full-depth repair. These are also great sustainable practices as they reuse the material that is already in place.
Three research studies on Portland Concrete Cement (PCC) pavements will use test sections to develop innovative concrete pavement mixes in collaboration with the concrete industry. These innovative materials include alternative cementitious materials, alternatives pozzolanic materials, and carbon dioxide. Some of these materials have not been tested on real scale projects, and MnROAD will serve as the place where field production, placement, and performance of these materials can be evaluated when exposed to traffic and extreme climatic conditions.
Accelerated pavement testing facilities (APT) provide a breaking ground to try innovative, sustainable materials and technologies while reducing risks. These research studies and corresponding test sections at MnROAD will provide performance test data that will allow engineers and scientists to develop the most economical pavement system, determine the best way to build it, and ascertain how to make it more sustainable.
About the Author:
Dr. Emil G. Bautista, PE is a Civil Engineer with over 10 years of experience in research construction materials with a special interest dealing with highways design and construction and the use of sustainable materials such as Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) and Coal Combustion Products (CCP) in pavement structures. He is currently working as one of MnROAD Project Engineers for the Department of Transportation of Minnesota (MnDOT). He is responsible for working on contracted research with major pavement research partnerships that MnDOT is leading or participating in. These research efforts include many research partners national, regional, and Minnesota research efforts going on in MnDOT’s Road Research Section at the Maplewood Lab. These partnerships include the current National Road Research Alliance (NRRA), National Center of Asphalt Technologies (NCAT), Minnesota DOT, and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) and new partnerships in the future. He provides support to research contracts with NCAT related to asphalt mix and pavement preservation and takes an active role in the leadership and support of these initiatives. He also provides an expert level of knowledge on concrete/asphalt mixtures, performance testing, construction, and pavement performance as it relates to the research efforts going on with each partnership that typically relates to the MnROAD research facility and assist in the review of MnROAD database, providing input on future development and implementation of data quality checks to insure the data being shared with research partners is of the research quality expected from the MnROAD facility.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post by guest author Dr. Emil G. Bautista, PE. If you’re interested in your firm possibly joining the Civil Engineering Collective, please contact us here or call us at 800-920-4007.
I hope you’ll join us.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success