Renewal: Accelerating the Renewal of America’s Highways
Overall research program goal: To develop a consistent, systematic approach to performing highway renewal that is rapid, causes minimum disruption, and produces long-lived facilities.
Challenge of Highway Renewal
America’s highway system comprises more than 3.9 million miles of highways, arterials, local roads, and streets (FHWA 2001, Table VM-2). These roads are critical to meeting the mobility and economic needs of local communities, regions, and the nation as a whole. They carry more than 90 percent of passenger trips (BTS 1999b, p. 14) and 69 percent of freight value (BTS 1999a, Table 1-43). In additional to commercial and private vehicles, they accommodate buses, bicycles, and pedestrians. They also provide vital links to all other modes of transportation, so that the influence of their physical and operational condition extends well beyond the impacts experienced directly by highway users.
The Interstate highway system—which accounts for about 2.5 percent of total lane-miles (BTS 1999a, Table 1-5) but 23 percent of vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) (BTS 1999a, Table 1-29)—was built primarily during the 1960s and 1970s and is approaching or has exceeded its design life. Significant portions of the system are carrying traffic well in excess of their design capacity. Other classes of roads, particularly urban street networks and urban arterials in heavily congested areas, face a similar predicament. Therefore, the renewal of roads so that the highway system can continue to provide its intended economic and social benefits is a pressing local and national concern. As noted, however, it is
precisely because of the important role of the highway system that renewal work must usually be done while facilities remain in use or with as little closure as possible. In the short term, while critical renewal activities are being carried out, users will experience disruption. The challenge is finding a way to achieve the much-needed infrastructure renewal with as little disruption as possible. Examples of the criticality of this issue exist throughout the country; Box 4-1 describes one example—the southeast freeway system in Wisconsin.
The challenge of highway renewal has been the subject of a number of workshops and industry task forces. Among the most notable are the 1998 Workshop on Pavement Renewal for Urban Freeways, sponsored by FHWA, the California Department of Transportation, and TRB, during which workshop participants developed alternative approaches to a real urban freeway renewal project on California’s Interstate 710 (see Box 4-2), and the TRB Task Force on Accelerating Opportunities for Innovation in the Highway Industry, which has chosen accelerated highway construction as the first focus of its efforts.1
Renewal is not limited to restoring roads to their original design characteristics; it frequently means meeting even higher customer demand. Although demands on the highway system have grown significantly, very little new capacity has been provided. VMT on the nation’s highways increased by 76 percent between 1980 and 1999 [FHWA 2001, Tables VM-202 (1980–1995) and VM-2 (1996–1999)], whereas the capacity of the system in lane-miles increased by only 3 percent [BTS 1999a, Table 1-5 (1908–1995); FHWA 2001, Table HM-60 (1996–1999)]. While relatively little additional capacity is planned for the next two decades, significant growth in highway demand is expected to continue. As mentioned in Chapter 1, VMT is projected to increase 50 percent by 2020. In the same time frame, truck volume is projected to double from 8.0 billion tons in 1998 to 16.8 billion tons.2 Not only has highway demand increased quantitatively, but customer expectations have changed in nature during the last several years. The public wants roads that not only are smooth and safe, but also support community goals, enhance the
This task force was formed in response to a recommendation in Special Report 249: Building Momentum for Change (TRB 1996). The purpose of the task force is to accelerate opportunities to implement innovations in the highway industry by advocating continuous improvement, facilitating removal of barriers to innovation, encouraging development of beneficial strategies, and creating a framework for informed consideration of innovation. The task force’s first workshop, on the topic of accelerated construction, was held November 16–17, 2000.
Results of FHWA study, presentation available at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/wefa.ppt (Slide 18).
Southeast Freeway System, Wisconsin
The freeway system in southern Wisconsin represents only 8 percent of the state’s road miles, but 36 percent of weekday vehicle-miles traveled. Most of the system was built 30 or more years ago and is very much in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction. However, it is critical to keep this system operating: almost 60 percent of Wisconsin’s residents live in eastern counties served by these roads; 65 percent of the state’s manufacturing jobs are in the area; and southeastern freeways provide intermodal connections to General Mitchell International Airport, the Milwaukee Amtrak depot, and the Port of Milwaukee, while also serving as an important tourist connection. The Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee, a particularly important component of the freeway system, is deteriorating as a result of high traffic volumes, today’s heavier vehicles, road salt, and studded tires. An outdated design, ill-suited to the current types and volumes of vehicles, has led to serious safety concerns. However, the interchange links three Interstate highways and carries more than 300,000 vehicles per day. This kind of situation is found throughout the country and calls for serious attention to new ways of providing for freeway renewal.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Transportation (2001).
Get In, Get Out, Stay Out! Workshop on Pavement Renewal for Urban Freeways, California
In February 1998, 44 highway system experts—designers, contractors, construction managers, maintenance engineers, traffic managers, and senior engineering officials—gathered in Irvine, California, to develop innovative approaches to urban freeway renewal. Workshop participants were presented with a real renewal project: the Long Beach Freeway (Interstate 710) in southern California. Each of four teams had to develop a renewal plan that met the following criteria: long service life, minimal traffic disruption, a safer environment for workers and highway users, minimal short- and long-term user costs and life-cycle costs to the agency,
and minimal community and environmental impacts. In addition, participants were asked to identify research and technology development needs. All teams produced innovative and realistic approaches to renewing the Long Beach Freeway. Workshop participants identified research and technology needs in the following areas: highway materials, pavement design, traffic management, traffic operations and work zone traffic control, economics and finance, nondestructive evaluation, construction equipment, and approaches to dealing with overpass structures.
Ideas from this workshop are being employed in several projects in California:
A more subtle but significant change inspired by the workshop has also taken place. The California Department of Transportation now considers the needs of an entire freeway corridor, rather than project-by-project needs, for renewal of urban freeways in southern California.
Sources: TRB (2000) and Neil Hawks, personal communication.
aesthetics of the built environment, and reflect high standards of environmental responsibility. Highway renewal affords an opportunity to provide structures specifically designed to carry higher volumes and heavier loads, extend service life, and meet increased customer expectations in these other areas.
Highway agencies have achieved these objectives on isolated, high-profile projects, with tremendous expenditure of effort and resources. This approach
is consistent with the traditional project-oriented nature of new highway construction. However, individual renewal projects are part of a much larger system, and one that must function 24 hours a day. As more and more of this system requires the same treatment as these special projects, the highway industry will need to approach infrastructure renewal in a radically new way. It will be necessary to use a wide variety of technologies and strategies, assess the appropriateness and trade-offs of each for a given situation, and analyze the impacts of renewal work on both the facility in question and the system as a whole. And facing larger workloads without commensurate increases in staff, agencies and their consultants and contractors will need to be able to do all of this in a reliable, systematic, financially and human resource–efficient manner so that the new way of doing business can be applied effectively in a greater number of situations.
The struggle in which highway agencies are engaged is manifested in the way they are currently investing their financial resources. On the basis of 1999 obligations (FHWA 2001), “system preservation” (primarily resurfacing) is being performed annually on 20,586 miles (12.85 percent) of the 160,000-mile National Highway System. This amounts to a 7- to 8-year resurfacing cycle. On the other hand, in the same year only 3,200 miles was scheduled for reconstruction, yielding a replacement cycle of exactly 50 years. These statistics imply a demand for 50-year service lives. The difficulty is the huge backlog of older highways within the system that were only designed for 20-year service and the present inability to design and construct with confidence highways with much longer lives. At the same time, the cost of keeping the system intact is escalating. System preservation represented 37 percent of the total federal-aid budget in 1993, affecting 9,574 miles, compared with 52 percent affecting 20,586 miles in 1998. The bulk (more than 15,000 miles) of this latter amount is devoted to resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation. This work has the salutary impact of restoring a smooth riding surface and providing much-deferred maintenance, but it is really only buying time. In sum, agencies are faced with rapidly escalating maintenance costs but are making relatively small reinvestments in physical plant to meet the increasing demands described earlier.
Renewal of Urban Street Networks
The challenge of highway renewal as described here exists for all classes of roads. However, urban streets have unique needs that merit particular focus in a future strategic highway research program. In many ways, renewal of
urban streets is a more complex issue than Interstate and freeway renewal, with a more immediate and more regular impact on the public. To begin with, urban street renewal affects not only motorists and truckers, but also pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit vehicles. Disruption of urban roads for construction activities can have detrimental effects on adjacent businesses, especially small, local establishments. Users of city streets experience frequent disruption from utility cuts, which in turn accelerate the degradation of pavements that must be patched and repaired prematurely. Identification and relocation of utilities can add significantly to delay and disruption in urban roadway renewal projects. Innovative treatment of utilities is needed to address these concerns.
Renewal activities themselves encounter unique situations on urban streets. Frequently, there are severe space limitations due to the proximity of buildings and private property. Noise is a concern for nearby residents and businesses. Special materials, construction techniques, and approaches to traffic operations may be required to deal with these issues. Cultural, historical, and aesthetic considerations may be more exacting in cities, where historic sites and cultural activities may also be a source of economic sustenance. Special design considerations are required in these cases, and strict requirements may dictate the construction schedule. On the positive side, renewal of urban streets can provide opportunities to improve safety and traffic flow and to promote designs that are more aesthetically pleasing, more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and more accessible to persons with disabilities.
Meeting the Highway Renewal Challenge Through a Future Strategic Highway Research Program
In the preceding section a description was given of how highway renewal meets the first of the criteria set forth in Chapter 1 for selecting the strategic focus areas for F-SHRP: it is an issue that bears on national transportation goals and is of continuing concern to highway agencies. The other two F-SHRP criteria—appropriateness for a SHRP-style program and the effectiveness or expected impact of the research—and how the proposed program of highway renewal research meets these criteria are addressed in this section.
Appropriateness for a SHRP-Style Research Program
The proposed program of research to achieve highway renewal that is rapid, long-lived, and minimally disruptive is appropriate for a SHRP-style pro-
gram. The achievement of this objective requires significant resources and continuity over several years. Delivery of needed research products on a schedule that can meet growing needs requires a coordinated, systematic approach. Multiple types of research—including work in materials, construction methods, equipment, financing and management approaches, operations, safety, and design—must be performed and integrated into useful tools. Numerous players—including federal, state, and local road agencies; the construction and supply industries; the financial community; and others—must be actively engaged throughout the program. Institutional constraints affecting existing research and technology programs (such as the need to compete annually for scarce research and technology funds with many other, sometimes shifting, priorities) make this integrated, systems approach very difficult to carry out in the time frame dictated by the urgency of the issue. The continuity and clearly defined scope of a SHRP-style approach can overcome this barrier, freeing researchers to focus entirely on achieving the desired outcomes. In addition, past experience with individual projects performed using a rapid, minimally disruptive approach indicates significant potential for success of this research under F-SHRP. Examples are provided in Boxes 4-3 and 4-4.
The specific subject matter of the proposed research is not notably different from much related work being done within existing research programs. The scope and scale of this work, however, are insufficient to move the industry toward widespread and effective application of a rapid, long-lived, minimally disruptive approach to renewal. Furthermore, if the research is pursued independently, suboptimal results are likely. An integrated program can exploit synergistic relationships among materials, equipment, construction methods, nondestructive evaluation, work zone traffic analysis, and other aspects of this research area.
Effectiveness or Expected Impact of the Research
Several benefits can be expected from the consistent application of an approach to highway renewal that is rapid, causes minimal disruption, and produces long-lived facilities. Improved roadway conditions would translate into savings for users since rough, pothole-covered roads cause vehicle wear and tear and increased fuel usage. Commercial and community savings could be expected from a reduction in temporary loss of or restricted access to commercial and residential areas affected by renewal projects. Rapid, less-disruptive renewal techniques also mean less delay from work zones. The reduced delay would be achieved not only during renewal activities, as a
Interstate 15 Reconstruction Project, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah, is the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. I-15, a freeway that runs along the Salt Lake Valley and will play a critical role in transporting millions of international visitors, was in need of significant rehabilitation because of its deteriorating condition. The renewal work involves approximately 17 miles of highway, with up to 12 driving lanes, and 144 bridges. The work needed to be done in time for the Olympics and with minimal disruption to current users. The Utah Department of Transportation employed a suite of innovative techniques—including partnering, design–build contracting, incentive payments for early completion, innovative construction methodologies and materials (wick drains, lightweight fill, innovative structural designs, high-performance concrete)—to create a high-quality facility on a tight schedule with minimal user disruption. In this case, users indicated in a public survey that they would prefer “a lot of pain for a short period of time” instead of having the project last longer. Consequently, total facility closures were used at scheduled intervals to accomplish work rapidly and thoroughly before the facilities were opened to traffic. The use of these approaches allowed the I-15 Reconstruction Project, a $1.325 billion undertaking that would normally have required 10 years of construction, to be completed in 4.5 years with $500 million of savings in construction costs and $500 million in economic benefits as a result of the shorter construction schedule.
Source: AASHTO Success Stories website: www.transportation.org/aashto/success.nsf/homepage/overview and www.i-15.com.
consequence of better management of work zones, but also over the life of facilities through the use of long-lived materials and methods. Delay can be quite costly to users. One study revealed that highway delay in just 68 urban areas was estimated to cost users about $78 billion in 1999.3 Approximately 54 percent of this delay was due to nonrecurring incidents, such as construc-
See Schrank and Lomax (2001). That study defines travel delay as the amount of extra time spent traveling due to congestion. The cost of delay includes the value of lost time in passenger vehicles and increased operating costs of commercial vehicles in congestion. Details on how the delay costs were derived are documented in Appendix B of that report.
Whittier Access Tunnel, Alaska
Whittier, Alaska, is an important cargo port and recreational and tourist destination, responsible for about 20 percent of Alaska’s revenue. Until recently, however, Whittier had no highway access because of the barriers formed by lakes, glaciers, and mountains. The only surface transportation link was a rail line with a 2.5-mile tunnel through the mountains; cars had to be carried into Whittier by train. Direct highway access would benefit the area economically, but an overland route or a new tunnel would be prohibitively expensive and raise significant environmental and aesthetic concerns. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities therefore decided to convert the rail tunnel into a dual-use rail–highway tunnel. The work had to be done rapidly, without disrupting rail traffic. The use of nontraditional work schedules (most construction was performed during the winter) and innovative methods and materials—such as constructing highway pavement from precast concrete panels in which track was embedded and using a rail-mounted gantry crane that allowed excavation, grading, and panel placement to occur simultaneously—permitted the work to be completed ahead of schedule, in 40 days. There were only nine track outages, which were scheduled to be compatible with barge traffic at Whittier. The project increased the automobile capacity of the tunnel by a factor of 25. Other innovative technologies—computerized traffic management, video monitoring, emergency response, and ventilation systems—were installed during construction to support the operation of the facility. The project also included two bridges, a 500-foot highway tunnel, 2.6 miles of roads, and various support facilities.
Sources: American Society of Civil Engineers (2001) and presentation by Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities staff at AASHTO Spring Meeting, Wichita, Kansas, May 20, 2001.
tion work, disabled vehicles, and crashes. If implementation of the results of this program, together with the results of the travel time reliability research described in Chapter 6, reduced such incident-related delay in these urban areas by just 5 percent, the result would be annual savings of about $2.1 billion for these areas.
There are prospects for achieving significant improvements through the proposed research program. Focused research in some of the specific areas described later, integrated with products of established highway research and technology programs, can revolutionize the way highway renewal work is done. Using an integrated, systems-oriented approach such as that proposed here will help overcome implementation barriers by addressing them up front, with the input of all relevant stakeholders. Since much related work has been performed for many years, the highway research community should be well equipped to carry out the proposed program. Those involved will, however, need to become quickly acclimated to the integrated, implementation-oriented approach being taken and may need to develop some additional expertise in the areas of work zone operations and urban street networks. State agencies are immersed in the issues surrounding highway renewal, and the need for progress in this area is so pressing that it is reasonable to expect their active participation in the proposed program. It is also reasonable to expect that agencies will rapidly adopt the findings of the research. Local agencies, also faced with urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation needs, may be less able to participate because of greater resource constraints. However, their involvement from the beginning of the program is so crucial that its achievement will need to be a priority of the research team.
Proposed F-SHRP Research
Major Research Objectives
The proposed research program has two major objectives:
To achieve renewal, that is performed rapidly, causes minimum disruption, and produces long-lived facilities.
To achieve such renewal, not just on isolated, high-profile projects, but consistently throughout the highway system.
In this section a review is given of what is entailed in and currently known about achieving these objectives, as well as areas in which additional knowledge and development are required.
Achieving Rapid Renewal
Rapid renewal, for purposes of the proposed research, refers to the duration of renewal activities on the facility itself: the time during which renewal
activities are taking place on the roadway should be dramatically reduced. However, many stages of the effort, including planning and community involvement, environmental analysis, facility design, and work zone traffic operations and safety analysis, take place before the field work begins. Decisions and plans made during these earlier stages can have significant impacts on the rapidity of construction and therefore are also important areas in which to focus research and technology. Moreover, shortening the preliminary engineering phase will accelerate the resolution of existing deficiencies or disruptive elements. Development of improved remote sensing and rapid, nondestructive testing techniques for planning and design would be particularly useful.
To meet the need for rapid renewal work, existing research programs have developed paving materials that set up quickly, allowing traffic to resume soon after paving. Some research has also been done on innovative contracting procedures that include incentives and disincentives aimed at encouraging contractors to find faster ways of performing renewal work. Additional research and development is needed in the following areas: performance-related specifications for new technologies; efficient construction equipment and methods; nondestructive, real-time sensing to determine readiness for traffic; use of modular or prefabricated construction to speed renewal and minimize disruption; and use of advanced computing technologies, such as web-based management, that could speed up renewal projects by providing for better coordination across disciplines and project stages.
Another area in which there is a particular need for additional research is rapid, long-lived renewal of bridges. Bridge renewal can have a significant impact on time, budget, and highway design. Advanced materials and construction methods, including prefabrication and automation, can help reduce the impact of bridge renewal on highway renewal projects and reduce the frequency of bridge deck replacement activities.
Achieving Long-Lived Renewal
Producing a reconstructed or rehabilitated infrastructure that is long-lived means reducing the frequency and severity of future interventions on the same segment of infrastructure. Facility life requirements depend on facility class, usage, and customer expectations. An agency needs to identify how frequently it can intervene or allow maintenance activities to take place from community, operational, and financial points of view. Decisions about facility life will in turn influence decisions about materials and design, as well as
operational and possibly aesthetic characteristics. Facilities that are going to be used for a long time without opportunities for modification may be expected to meet higher standards and to be more flexible. Decisions made concerning such facilities must generally take into account a wide variety of possible future scenarios regarding demand, environmental impact, and contribution to the local community and economy.
Existing research programs have addressed the long-lived objective through the development of materials and designs for longer-lived pavements and bridge elements (particularly bridge decks). Critical to meeting the long-lived objective are performance measures and performance models for long-lived materials and designs. For pavements, the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program is collecting data to validate and enhance such models; however, models are generally lacking for other materials and elements of highway facilities. Designs are needed for site-specific applications (based on traffic composition and behavior, environmental conditions, and evolving land use). Early indicators of long-term quality and non-destructive means of measuring these indicators during construction are also needed.
Achieving Minimally Disruptive Renewal
The objective of minimum disruption encompasses a number of concerns. Disruption can refer to operational characteristics of a facility, as well as to economic, environmental, social, and aesthetic impacts. The actual renewal work should create as little disruption as possible while it is being carried out. It should have the minimum possible impact on surrounding facilities. And it should provide for minimal future disruption from additional maintenance and renewal interventions, according to the determination of facility life discussed above.
Among the three objectives of rapid, long-lived, and minimally disruptive renewal, the last is perhaps the most neglected in existing research—especially in combination with the other two. The ingenuity of the contractor is often relied upon for achieving minimal disruption on individual projects (for instance, responding to the incentive–disincentive clauses mentioned earlier). Little research has been done on the effectiveness of these means or on the impact of project-focused methods on the entire highway system. For example, contractor ingenuity cannot be relied upon for the development of ways to perform selected improvements on other roads so they can be used as alternate routes or bypasses while renewal work is being done. In addition, disrup-
tion is usually defined in terms of lane closures and delay, with little attention to environmental, community, economic, and operational disruption—all areas in which research is needed.
Research is needed as well in the areas of robotics and automated equipment that can reduce the amount of work space required, especially for lane closures; preconstruction work zone analysis to assess impacts of renewal activities on other roads and other transportation modes in the corridor; work zone safety considerations and countermeasures to minimize hazardous situations for the public and highway workers; innovative work schedules (long shifts, night work, weekend work, off-season construction) and their impact on both workers and the quality of the work; improved management methods for affected areas and work area traffic management and construction staging; improved work zone traffic information systems and advanced traveler information systems that would allow users to make informed decisions about alternatives and decrease travel through work areas to the extent possible; methods of utilizing capacity improvements on adjacent roads or in other modes during highway renewal; innovative approaches to dealing with hydraulics, storm water management, and urban utilities to minimize disruption from repeated entries into the roadway; public involvement and communication methods, such as design workshops and use of visualization technologies; alternative approaches to meeting mobility needs during renewal activities, such as providing more transit or promoting carpooling and telecommuting; and planning and design of work zones to accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, persons with disabilities, transit, and goods movement safely and efficiently.
Integrating Renewal Objectives and Methods
Clearly, the objectives of rapid, long-lived, and minimally disruptive renewal cannot be entirely independent of one another on major renewal projects. Sometimes they reinforce each other, and sometimes they conflict. For example, a long-lived facility will decrease future disruption in the vicinity of the facility. Likewise, rapidly performed construction must still produce a high-quality, long-lived facility. In addition, minimizing the immediate operational disruption of a renewal project could cause the project to extend over a very long period of time, while extremely rapid renewal could cause significant disruption for a short period (for instance, if a facility is fully closed). One of the key challenges of the proposed research, then, is to achieve an integrated approach to these three objectives. Integration in this respect
means pursuing all three objectives in a simultaneous and balanced manner, evaluating the trade-offs and possible impacts of advances in one objective on the others.
There are many potential means of achieving this integration, using materials, equipment, management and contracting methods, communications and sensing technologies, and traffic operations. Existing research programs are addressing each of these topics and more. A unique contribution of F-SHRP will be integration of the various means: bringing the tools and techniques together; evaluating them with respect to the three renewal objectives; performing selected research and development to address unmet needs; and developing integrated, implementable systems. Certain areas of research, such as constuctibility analysis, work zone operations, and project review, can be particularly helpful in the development of more integrated approaches.
Developing a Systemwide Approach to Renewal
Achieving rapid, long-lived, minimally disruptive renewal through a systemic approach introduces additional considerations. The need to look beyond individual projects to the overall highway system derives from the fact that so much renewal work will be required during the next two decades. Multiple work zones within a region or corridor will not be unusual. Impacts of renewal work will have to be evaluated over the entire transportation network. Highway agencies will not be able to apply extraordinary resources for performing rapid, long-lived, minimally disruptive renewal on a few, high-profile projects; such renewal will be expected on most projects. In both the development of implementable strategies and the performance of targeted research, the F-SHRP infrastructure renewal program will focus on tools and techniques that reflect consideration of the entire system or corridor in which the renewal work is to take place. The concept of a systemwide approach to renewal has begun to take root in some states. Yet very little research has focused on the impacts of particular renewal projects on the entire highway system or the overall transportation system and its many customers.
There are numerous specific areas in which systems-oriented research and technology are needed. Examples include planning to address other required work in an area (such as utility work, bridges, and safety appurtenances) when major renewal work is scheduled; traffic control technologies, including intelligent transportation systems (ITS) (both using such technologies during renewal and keeping them in place afterward to contribute to the operation of the system); innovative contracting and financing approaches
and their impact on construction speed and quality, private-sector innovation, and risk allocation; life-cycle cost models that include delay and detour costs, vehicle operating costs, costs of future maintenance interventions, and impacts on businesses dependent on the facility; methods of reflecting these costs in specifications and performance measures; impacts of innovative contracting and construction practices (including performing the work during nights and weekends) on the level of innovation, the quality of the work, personnel, and safety; analysis of the impacts of renewal work on the performance of highway corridors and networks; development of models to predict these impacts and to determine the effectiveness of various traffic management strategies prior to project execution; and assessment of the effects of these analyses and strategies on the timing, size, and duration of projects when the projects are viewed as part of a corridor-level program.
Proposed Research Tasks
F-SHRP will produce a systematic method for analyzing renewal needs and evaluating alternative strategies and technologies, thus allowing highway agencies to design approaches tailored to their particular circumstances. To achieve this objective, F-SHRP will focus on the following tasks:
Synthesize existing solutions. Much research and technology work has already been done in a number of areas relevant to highway renewal. F-SHRP will produce syntheses of this work, assess the resulting techniques and technologies, and develop guidelines for applying them. Examples of possible synthesis topics include traffic control technologies for work zones, contracting methods, and nondestructive evaluation methods. These syntheses will provide opportunities for early application of improved methods before the full research program is completed.
Conduct original research and development for unmet needs.4 F-SHRP will include research in selected areas, outlined in the previous section. The results of this research will be incorporated in F-SHRP’s systematic method for approaching infrastructure renewal projects. Box 4-5 lists some potential research topics under this task.
Integrate syntheses and results of research to develop a systematic method with appropriate decision support tools. The final product of the F-SHRP efforts is
Potential Research Topics Addressing Unmet Needs
The following specific research topics would address important unmet needs:
intended to integrate the findings of the syntheses of existing work and of F-SHRP’s original research to produce a repeatable, systematic process for analyzing, planning, designing, and carrying out rapid, long-lived, and minimally disruptive highway renewal projects. The process will include appropriate decision support tools and guidelines for analyzing the needs and characteristics of projects, evaluating various techniques and technologies, assessing trade-offs and impacts of these techniques and technologies on the parameters listed below, improving public communication and involvement, planning highway renewal work, and designing work zones.
The analysis and evaluation method to be developed under F-SHRP will include assessment of a number of important parameters and how they are affected by the choice of strategies and technologies applied to a project or corridor. Among these parameters are the following:
Agency and user costs, including life-cycle costs;
Project and corridor or network traffic impacts;
User requirements for information and travel time reliability;
Human resource needs and impacts, including special training needs;
Work zone safety for workers and users of the facility;
Impacts on other modes of transportation and possible use of other modes to mitigate the effects of renewal work; and
Effects of renewal work on access and on the economy of an area.
Relationship to Other Work
Other Research and Technology Efforts
Several existing highway research and technology programs are addressing important aspects of the infrastructure renewal issue. The success of the infrastructure renewal activities proposed for F-SHRP will depend on the continuation of these highway research programs, since an important part of the proposed F-SHRP is integration of the results of these other programs into a comprehensive and systematic approach to highway renewal. Some of these programs are listed below with examples of their current or planned activities:
FHWA performs research and technology activities in several areas related to infrastructure renewal: high-performance materials, accelerated pavement testing, highway structures, nondestructive evaluation techniques, and work zone analysis.
Work under the LTPP program, originally part of the first SHRP and now administered by FHWA, includes determining the long-term durability of pavement materials and providing data that can be used to validate long-term performance models and develop performance standards.
NCHRP includes research in many areas related to infrastructure renewal, such as materials and design for pavements and structures, and innovative contracting.
State DOTs conduct a wide variety of highway research and technology activities in such areas as materials, bridge inspection, accelerated pavement testing, maintenance and preservation strategies to reduce rehabilitation and reconstruction, and work zone safety and operations. For the most part, these activities are directed at the specific needs of the state performing the research, although some findings and techniques can be applied more widely.
Industry organizations, such as the National Asphalt Paving Association and the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation, sponsor or perform research in pavement materials, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation. Construction equipment manufacturers develop improved equipment.
Universities contribute to virtually all areas of highway research and technology since they frequently conduct the research and development funded by the above groups. University programs tend to focus on specific areas such as materials, ITS applications, construction management, and public policy implications.
The interim work stage between publication of this report and initiation of F-SHRP (described in Chapter 8) will include a thorough review of the above efforts to ensure that F-SHRP does not duplicate those efforts, but integrates their results into its final products. Throughout the conduct of F-SHRP, close communication, and cooperation where appropriate, will take place with these other highway research and technology efforts.
Other Strategic Focus Areas in F-SHRP
While this research program is oriented in particular toward meeting the strategic goal of accelerating the renewal of America’s highways, it can also contribute to addressing F-SHRP’s other strategic focus areas if renewal activities are used to implement the outcomes of those other research efforts. For example, reconstructed highways could incorporate the results of safety research (by reflecting knowledge about driver behavior in work areas, geometric design, roadside hardware, pavement marking, and signage), travel time reliability research (by using designs that better accommodate incident management or reduce other impacts on travel time), and research aimed at improving the environmental and community compatibility of highways. In particular cases, renewal activity could provide an opportunity to improve facility design in such areas as aesthetics, safety, and environmental or community impacts. Rapid, long-lived, minimally disruptive construction technologies could also contribute to new capacity objectives discussed in Chapter 7.
Administrative and Implementation Considerations
The very nature of the proposed program—taking an integrated, systems-oriented approach—requires active coordination and collaboration be-
tween F-SHRP and existing highway research and technology programs from the outset. One or more formal partnership agreements may be appropriate to outline the respective roles, activities, and expected products of the programs so that implementable, customer-oriented products can be delivered on a reasonable schedule. Potential members of such partnerships could include FHWA, NCHRP, industry research and development programs, individual states or groups of states, and universities or university consortia. The objectives of the partnerships would be to leverage financial, material, and intellectual resources at various institutions and to ensure that certain research and development activities would be carried out according to mutually agreed-upon schedules, budgets, and intended outcomes.
The success of the highway renewal portion of F-SHRP will be measured by how quickly and extensively accelerated renewal strategies are implemented effectively by state and local highway agencies. As mentioned earlier, particular effort should be made to facilitate local government participation. Implementation, however, must include more than just public-sector agencies; the highway contracting and supply industries must also be involved. The participation of all stakeholders must be secured from the initiation of the project. The formal partnerships mentioned above will assist greatly in achieving this goal, but stakeholders that are not formal partners in specific research and technology activities must also be engaged. An appropriate program of outreach, information sharing, and technology transfer will therefore be important. Partnerships with technology transfer entities (such as FHWA Resource Centers and Local Technical Assistance Program Centers) could be developed to help meet this need and leverage available resources.
One of the advantages of the proposed approach is that it will not only promote the use of new technologies developed under F-SHRP but also will foster the use of existing technologies by demonstrating their effectiveness as part of an integrated package tailored to specific needs.
Highway renewal will ultimately be a joint endeavor of the public and private sectors, and private-sector innovation will be critical to achieving F-SHRP’s research goals. The private sector has some incentive to undertake research and technology related to two elements of the overall highway renewal problem (equipment development and construction management), but most of the individual research areas have been largely the domain of the public sector because of public ownership of the highway system and a lack
of economic incentive for private-sector innovation. Traditional procurement practices offer little if any reward for private innovation. In addition, the volume of this type of work has been so small to date that it has not justified capital investment on the part of the private sector. F-SHRP research could include some focus on improving incentives for private-sector innovation. More important, perhaps, development of a systematic process that would allow a greater number of projects to be handled consistently with a rapid, long-lived, minimally disruptive approach could help promote a larger and more stable market for such work and thereby provide the market incentive required for private-sector innovation.
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