It was no easy task reformatting an event as large and important as the Transportation Research Board’s 100th Annual Meeting to a virtual event, but the event was held successfully for four weeks in January.

Eric Ferrebee and Leif Wathne participated in the meeting throughout the month and offered some insights:

The first two weeks of the events were focused on committee meetings. ACPA participated in several of these meetings.

Eric provided updates at the Design and Rehabilitation of Concrete Pavements Committee (AKP20) and the Concrete Pavement Construction Committee (AKC50). At both meetings, Eric highlighted ACPA’s new committee structure including the Research, Technology, and Innovation Committee, which will better allow for our members’ research needs/concerns to be voiced which can help inform TRB.

Leif Wathne presented at the Sustainable and Resilient Pavements Subcommittee AKP00(2). He covered sustainability, discussing key initiatives such as Life Cycle Assessments, portland limestone cements, performance-engineered mixtures, and carbon neutrality.  He added that the cement and concrete sector (led by PCA) is developing a roadmap by the end of 2021 to facilitate achieving carbon neutrality across the concrete value chain by 2050.

He also spoke about resilience, emphasizing inundation, designing for resilience, rehabilitation. One of the key points he made about designing pavements for resilience is that past assumptions are no longer valid and need to be adjusted. He also talked about “armoring” the critical network with concrete overlays to make it less susceptible to loss of structure related to inundation.

Leif also presented an overview of the CP Tech Center and ACPA’s partnership in delivering monthly webinars, emphasizing that more than 12,000 professionals have participated in the program since its inception last April.

The second two weeks of the TRB centennial meeting featured 350+ sessions, including workshops, lectern and poster sessions, as well as virtual exhibits. A few notable ones are below:

  • Workshop 1007 – Emerging Sustainable Technologies for Cement and Concrete, including a presentation by Dr. Tyler Ley on “The Future of Reclaimed Fly Ash.”
  • Lectern Session 1056 – Where Concrete Performance-Engineered Mixtures (PEM) Meet the Road – States’ experience with PEM. Kevin McMullen of the Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association participated and gave the Wisconsin experience in a session that included DOT reps from Michigan and Minnesota.
  • Lectern Session 1194 – Resiliency and Concrete Pavement Rehabilitation Design – Jim Mack, CEMEX (and 2019 ACPA Chairman) discussed resiliency and concrete pavements. Jim highlighted the resilience benefits of concrete pavements and cement-stabilized bases. Wouter Brink of ARA discussed how AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME can be used for concrete rehabilitation design and how it can incorporate resilient concepts. He also covered some hurdles they are addressing to improving resilience design. Nancy Beltran, Cement Council of Texas, discussed a new finite element design tool for designing concrete pavement for resiliency.

“TRB is the intersection of agency, industry, and academia,” Eric said, adding, “Participating in the TRB annual meeting allows us a seat at the table to help shape the national research agenda. Our participation also allows us to discuss issues we see from the industry side as well as to observe what DOTs and other agencies are experiencing. This allows us to work together to improve concrete pavements.”