Reflecting on ACPA’s VISION2040 initiative during the Mid-Year Meeting last week, David Howard, Strategic Advisory Committee Chairman (and ACPA 2nd Vice Chairman of the Board), led a discussion to draw on the experience and expertise of the committee and others in attendance.  

The fast-paced roundtable discussion offered additional insights on the direction of infrastructure.  Here’s a recap of the important characteristics of pavement and pavement design or construction that may likely be demanded of us by 2029 (10 years out). The brief, fast-paced discussion was aptly called the “10-minute pulse.”

The ideas are presented as recorded and do not suggest a prioritized order:

  • Lower tire-pavement noise (demand driver is quieter e-vehicles)
  • Surfaces that are optimized for smoothness (demand driver is high-speed – 150 mph – autonomous vehicles)
  • Improved sustainable footprint (demand driver is increased awareness and demand for sustainable infrastructure)
  • Pavement surfaces that help improve vehicle fuel efficiency (demand driver is societal desire for energy efficiency and independence)
  • Pavement structures resilient to inundation and more extreme weather (demand driver is climate change consideration and building code improvements)
  • Pavement structures that can be heated to melt snow/ice (demand driver is improved safety and reduced snow/ice removal costs at critical locations)
  • Pavement structures to accommodate heavier truck axle loads (demand driver is dedicated truck corridors and/or increased legal load limits for freight movement efficiency)
  • Concrete mixture design and specification system for consistently durable concrete mixtures (demand driver is higher expectation of concrete performance for interstates, critical corridors and airfields, as well as more limited virgin material availability)
  • New concrete mixtures that will work effectively for thin overlays (demand driver is to develop competition for pavement resurfacing market)
  • Reuse/repurpose of all on-site materials during pavement rehabilitation/reconstruction (demand driver is circular economy considerations and more limited virgin resource availability)
  • Increased use of geosynthetic materials in pavement layers (demand driver is resource efficiency and more limited virgin resource availability)
  • Construction methods using automated equipment requiring fewer skilled/trained workers (demand driver is fast construction and limited workforce availability)
  • Slipforming or other construction methods that accommodate embedded sensors within the pavement or inlaid striping (demand driver is movement to intelligent vehicle/pavement interaction)
  • Efficiently constructible pavements allowing faster speed of construction and opening to traffic (demand driver is traffic volume and congestion)
  • Real-time quality assurance and quality control testing and evaluation (demand driver is continuing shift away from traditional construction inspection)

In addition to these pavement, construction and design characteristics, in 10 years it was opined that the industry will need to be responsive to a larger number of owners as the states sell off parts of their systems to private owners. It was also noted that resource allocation between rural and urban area/development will be a factor influencing pavement product demand.