MassDOT has been leading the charge with innovative infrastructure improvements for many years; focusing on preservation, safety, the environment and efficiency. We reached out to our One Center Research Affiliate, Dr. Walaa Mogawer, a Professor at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Director of the Highway Sustainability Research Center to discuss the current research in Massachusetts. Dr. Mogawer has collaborated directly with MassDOT’s pavement management section, on developing asphalt mixtures that could extend the service life of pavements and reduce costs. We spoke with Dr. Mogawer and the Pavement Management Engineer for the Highway Division, and MassDOT Project Champion Ed Naras to discuss how this research is being implemented. Here are some questions that were asked:
How are the results of your recent MassDOT research project being implemented in Massachusetts?
Dr. Mogawer’s most recent research entitled Field Monitoring of Experimental Hot Mix Asphalt Projects Placed in Massachusetts involved evaluating numerous field trials of experimental mixtures placed by MassDOT since 2000. Dr. Mogawer stated that, “the results of this study are a good first step in evaluating these experimental mixtures. With this data, MassDOT can refine specifications and implement the mixtures on a broader scale. Utilizing these mixtures will help improve the infrastructure health in Massachusetts.”
These experimental mixtures included several pilot projects using the superpave mixture design methodology, utilization of warm mix asphalt technologies, asphalt rubber mixtures, latex or polymer modified asphalt mixtures, and reflective crack relief layer mixtures. All these types of mixtures were placed to achieve a longer service life and specific outcomes in terms of performance of the pavement. A total of 12 field projects were identified for inclusion in the study. For each project, a plan was developed to monitor the experimental mixture performance using condition data (distresses, rutting, cracking, roughness, etc.) that would be measured periodically over the duration of this project. The rehabilitation process of Massachusetts aging bridge infrastructure has been complimented by this research.
Generally, based on the monitoring plan and associated thresholds for condition indices, the experimental mixtures placed at the selected projects have provided acceptable performance in terms of cracking, rutting, and ride quality. Furthermore, the results suggest that the experimental mixtures are ready for further implementation by MassDOT.
Has this new method, practice, policy or material reduced the cost or improved safety or efficiency at MassDOT?
Speaking with Ed Naras, he indicated that the collaboration on pavement management between MassDOT and UMass Dartmouth Highway Sustainability Research Center, has been successful over the years. Ed Naras, who works directly with Dr. Mogawer, indicated that the focus of each project is to improve the functional and structural capabilities of the roadways and bridge decks with consideration to make them more cost effective and environmentally friendly.
What are Massachusetts future priorities for implementing this research?
MassDOT will focus future research efforts on building on this work, improving paved roadway sustainability through increased recycling use, using environmentally friendly technologies, increasing pavement preservation activities, designing resilient roads that can withstand the effect of climate change, and designing asphalt mixtures that have balanced performance.
Interview conducted by Matt Mann, Research Program Coordinator with Dr. Walaa Mogawer and Ed Naras.