This is a guest blog by Emil G. Bautista
Highways as well as road research are an important part of the infrastructure of every country in the world. They provide the framework to move people and goods from one point to another, and this makes them an important piece to our economy and quality of life. As of 2006, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were approximately 4.1 million miles (6.6 million kms) of roads in the United States, of which 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kms) were paved and 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kms) were unpaved.
Using a simple A-to-F school report card format, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides a comprehensive assessment of the United States infrastructure in their Infrastructure Report Card prepared every four years. For the year 2021, highways are graded as D with over 40% of the system in poor or mediocre condition. If we look into ways to improve the grade of our highway system, it is key to target investments and allocate funding — and for this, it is important that routine, reliable data becomes the standard.
For this reason, and looking into road research, it is important that decision-makers and engineers rely on accelerated pavement testing (APT) facilities to collect detailed performance data with the aid of different pavement sensors. Since APTs are considered large-scale, real-world laboratories, they allow us to conduct cutting-edge experimentation while avoiding the risk of failure on actual roadways.
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