Industry News

Advancing ME Design Implementation

The fourth AASHTO Pavement ME National Users Group Meeting last week provided engineers and other stakeholders the opportunity to discuss issues related to mechanistic-empirical (ME) pavement design. 

Key topics include the long-standing ME Pavement Design Guide as well as the AASHTOWare Pavement M-E Design program. Eric Ferrebee participated in the meeting and had the opportunity to talk with designers and key officials about ACPA’s perspectives on highway pavement design. ACPA has long advocated for the use of AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME for highway pavement design. We have also encouraged designers to make the transition from older AASHTO design programs.  

This meeting, which drew close to 90 participants representing 35 State DOTs and Canadian Provinces, is the largest gathering for state DOTs, AASHTO and FHWA to focus solely on AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME Design tool. 

“The design tool is the most advanced tool for designing and analyzing pavements that exists,” Eric says. “This has led to more realistic designs for concrete pavements.” Currently, because of complexity of the tool, many agencies are still working toward implementation, he says. 

“While there are quite a few agencies that have implemented it for concrete, others are still working through calibration efforts to ensure designs match with local performance,” Eric says. “For concrete pavements, we’ve seen that the lack of calibration can result in increased pavement thicknesses, sometimes between 0.5 in. to 1.0 in.  Even so, this is a significant decrease over the earlier empirical versions of the AASHTO design guide (i.e., AASHTO93, AASHTO86 and even AASHTO72). Those versions could result in variations that could add 2 to 3 in. to thickness designs.”  

“Moving toward Mechanistic-Empirical design is a big step for DOTs, but it can help create realistic and competitive designs for concrete,” he adds.

ARA has developed a new Calibration Assistance Tool (CAT), which many participants expressed interest and excitement about.  The tool should help ease some of the issues with calibrating the tool for local use. Designers and others a chance had an opportunity to see CAT demonstrations and to discuss issues with the tool, as well as overall implementation.

Workshop Emphasizes QA/QC Roles

The Southwest Concrete Pavement Association (SWCPA), an ACPA affiliate, along with the FHWA and Caltrans, presented a two-day workshop this week to provide concrete pavement QA/QC information to contractors and agency personnel. 

The “Caltrans/FHWA/Industry Workshop: Quality in the Concrete Paving Process,” detailed the benefits of a good QA/QC program and the impacts on longevity of concrete for pavements and other applications. The training emphasized the individual roles among stakeholders and how contractors and agency personnel affect quality, both personally and in a “global” project sense. 

The FHWA Mobile Concrete Technology Center (MCTC) tested concrete on two active paving projects in California and collected data prior to the workshop. The data sets were included in the workshop to further illustrate the role and importance of QA and QC. 

Experts representing the FHWA, Caltrans and the Southwest Chapter provided technical expertise and facilitated discussions and questions & answers. Scott Mueller of ACPA also participated in the workshop in support of the SWCPA. Held in McClellan (near Sacramento), the workshop concentrated on stakeholders in Northern California. 

FHWA Group Focuses on Sustainability Resources

The 18th meeting of the Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group (SPTWG) gave stakeholders the opportunity stakeholders to provide technical input on sustainability and environmental aspects of pavements and pavement materials. The meeting, which began with opening remarks by Heather Dyllla, FHWA Sustainability Program Manager, also created a forum to share information and discuss resources.

Held in Detroit last week, the two-day meeting covered a wide variety of topics, including streets and urban sustainability, innovations by the Michigan DOT, and product category rules (PCRs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). The meeting also addressed life cycle analysis data issues and included a demonstration of the FHWA’s LCA tool.

Participants also heard a presentation on pavement vehicle interaction (PVI) by Karim Chatti, Michigan State University; Imad Al-Qadi, University of Illinois; and Jeremy Gregory, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (and CS Hub). A PVI panel discussion followed and addressed timely questions about PVI, including gaps in modeling, as well as implementation steps for using PVI models in the short term. Technical updates presented by the FHWA included an update on the FHWA PVI study and sustainable pavement studies. 

Facilitating and participating in the discussions were Kurt Smith and Prashant Ram of ApTech, an ACPA member. Leif Wathne participated in the meeting, representing ACPA and the concrete pavement industry’s perspectives. 

Final Days to Register for AM56

The final days for hotel room and online event registration are rapidly approaching. The room block for ACPA’s 56th Annual Meeting is scheduled to expire on November 11, followed by the November 15 deadline for online event registration.

If you have not finalized your plans, we encourage you not to miss the discounted rate of $189/night or the opportunity by following our reservation link or visiting the event website

When registering for the annual meeting, don’t forget to select the optional golf outing and other exciting and fun-filled excursions. ACPA will provide transportation to and from the event, so bring your sticks (or rent clubs onsite) and enjoy a great time with friends and industry colleagues! 

ACPA members are eligible to receive a 20% discount off any registration ticket type, including those for your spouse and guests for whom you are paying. To receive the discount, please enter the following promotional code at the top of the ticket selection screen before you proceed to checkout: member20. Our one-stop registration/information website is Scheduled for December 1 through 5, ACPA’s 56th Annual Meeting will be held at the New Orleans Marriott. 

FHWA Offers Workforce Insights in Partnership Meeting

A Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP) partners’ meeting provided insights into the solutions to federal programs aimed at addressing workforce issues, including shortages and developmental programs.  

The meeting began with opening remarks by Tony Furst, FHWA Chief Innovation Officer, and Nancy Rooney, U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary. Leif Wathne of ACPA and Jay Hansen of NAPA both had an opportunity to share comments with the group.

The meeting covered a variety of topics, including outreach/marketing, FHWA HCWP grants, and a notice of proposed rulemaking for an apprenticeship program. Participants also received a summary of HWCP activity in various states and cities.

The meeting was held on November 4 and was  hosted by the FHWA’s Center for Transportation Workforce Development and took place at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters in Washington, DC. In addition to the key agencies, other partners include AGC, ARTBA, AASHTO, the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, and NAPA.  

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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