‘Editor’s Note: This is a recap of the second of two FHWA-sponsored, pavement resilience peer exchanges held in mid-December.  (See related story, “FHWA Presents Pavement Resilience Peer Exchange, October 28.)’

Following welcoming remarks by Kurt Smith of APTech*, Heather Dylla of FHWA explained this second peer exchange would be aimed at defining more resilient pavements to help meet sustainability requirements.

Jim Mack Director of Market Development at CEMEX* and ACPA past-Chairman (2019); John Adam, Program Manager with the CP Tech Center; and Eric Ferrebee, ACPA Technical Services Director; and Brian Killingsworth, Executive Vice President at NRMCA, represented the concrete pavement industry.

Steve Gaj of FHWA covered asset management and resiliency, focusing mostly on the TAMP and AM rule.  He noted the work on the next TAMPS is due in the summer of 2022.

In a technical session moderated by Steve Muench, University of Washington, Dr. Bart Nijssen of the University of Washington addressed the extreme events and effects on pavements. He reminded the group that models are showing climate is changing, but cautioned that climate change is not the only “stressor.” He added that population increase, lack of funding and other variables affect planning for extreme events.

Dave Kriebel of the US Naval Academy presented on Transportation Impacts of High Tide Coastal Flooding.   In addition to describing the impacts on streets and roads, he also provided some good ways to estimate the number of flood events and mitigation strategies.  He also emphasized the importance of making design changes.

As with the first peer exchange, there were breakout sessions aimed at identifying issues and challenges among state roadbuilding agencies represented at the meeting, including those from Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, Hawaii, and Maryland.

“We think we have a good pavement system to address many resilient issues. Concrete pavements are inherently stiff and reliable for the long term,” Jim commented.  “We are educating more people about the versatile solutions we have, including overlays, full-depth pavement reclamation with cement, etc., and as we do, we are looking at all potential resiliency needs from flooding, fires, etc. We’re trying to get research done – and recognition that both immediate and secondary impacts, while at the same time looking at climate change overall.  One example is with CO2 reduction, where we are looking for quicker adoption of technologies such as portland lime cements (PLC), which are reducing our carbon footprint.  We need the DOTs to be receptive to those technologies.”

A second breakout group was led by Steve Muench and Tom Van Dam of NCE*, officials from Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia described challenges they are facing. Topics ranged from permafrost melting in Alaska to the severity and frequency of major flood events, which was a common theme among many of the state agencies.

John Adam said there is a need for increased communication so we can “restore” operations.  “Essentially, when can we reopen and what are the options, so the procedures are in place to respond rapidly.  There’s a need to be proactive so don’t have to make up procedures on the fly.”

The first day ended with a wrap-up and look ahead to day two.

The second day of the two-day event began with a welcome and recap of the first-day session by Tom Van Dam and Steve Muench. Technical presentations included a Framework for Introducing Climate Resiliency into Pavement Management by Jo Sias, University of New Hampshire and Jayne Knott, JFK Environmental Services, and Resiliency of Major Freeway Sections in the Houston Area by Andrew Wimsatt, Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

A breakout session led by Steve Muench and Tom Van Dam covered the Role of Pavements and Prashant Ram of APTech facilitated small group exercises.  A session on breakout group reports was led by Steve Muench and Tom Van Dam.  The meeting concluded with a summary and Wrap-Up by Steve Muench and Tom Van Dam and discussion of available FHWA Resources and Initiatives – Elizabeth Habic, FHWA.

Throughout the meeting, there were concerns expressed about thin, flexible pavements and their performance in disaster situations. There’s a need to communicate more and ensure resilience is factored into design. There was also much discussion about predictive modeling, but it’s important not to rely too heavily on models when there are improvements that can be made by working with key DOT officials on implementing existing technologies and practices. Finally, funding is a key consideration that needs to be addressed as flooding responses and other disaster recovery methods become more important.

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* An ACPA member.