Slide: illustrating the long life of concrete overlays in high water environments.

Earlier this month, ACPA and CP Tech Center hosted a webinar on pavement resilience. Attended by nearly 250 individuals representing agencies and academia, this month’s guest speaker, Greg Dean, Executive Director, Carolinas Concrete Paving Association, focused his presentation time on two topics: The need to design more resilient pavements; and the array of solutions that will help ensure longer pavement life.

As part of his presentation, Greg stressed that as a result of the increased intensity and frequency of storms, our pavements will likely be exposed to more rescue vehicles and clean-up-related loads during inundation that were not accounted for during initial design.

Greg noted that tools already exist that can help local agencies. While designing a new pavement, agencies can account for lower anticipated subgrade strengths by characterizing materials in a (longer) soaked state. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publications point to the use of stabilized subgrades and base layers when one is trying to boost resilience in a wetter climate. The latest FHWA Everyday Counts (EDC-6) Initiative identifies another possible solution –Targeted Overlays. Over the last decade, our industry has seen tremendous growth in the use of concrete overlays, and we expect that to continue as the importance of constructing long-life pavements in flood-prone environments increases. For example, at least ten airports within the FAA Southern Region have incorporated concrete overlays to improve pavement conditions and slow deterioration (see slide).

In closing, Greg emphasized that agencies can respond by 1) evaluating pavements that have been exposed to adverse climatic changes and then 2) be open toward using a “mix of fix” approach. No single strategy will improve the resilience of all our pavements, but we must stop repeating pavement designs that fail prematurely. The concrete paving industry offers grey solutions that will harden the system and spread the load. Engineering for anticipated conditions and the use of proven rehabilitation techniques can help ensure assets and limited resources are maximized.

Do you wish to learn more about the durability of concrete and the use of concrete overlays? Register for the 12th International Conference on Concrete Pavements and see the ISCP August 2021 article on EDC-6 Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions.