Northern Climate Preservation Test Sections Placed in August By Buzz Powell, P.E.

Pavement Preservation Journal
Winter 2016, Vol. 9, No. 4
By Buzz Powell, P.E.

After months of preparation, northern climate pavement preservation sections were placed on Minnesota highways in late summer 2016.

The northern sections were placed to complement southern climate sections in Alabama being quantified by the National Center for Asphalt Technology, as part of the National Long-Term Pavement Preservation Benefit Experiment, funded in part by FP2 Inc. and its partners in the private sector, and state DOTs.

Full-scale accelerated pavement testing has been conducted at the NCAT Pavement Test Track since 2000. Practical research in surface mix performance, structural pavement design, and pavement preservation has been cooperatively funded in three-year research cycles by state DOTs located primarily in the southeastern United States.

In the meantime, the Minnesota DOT’s Road Research Facility (MnROAD) has been conducting research in these same focus areas for northern states since 1994. Now, the sixth research cycle at the NCAT Pavement Test Track and the third phase of MnROAD research are for the first time officially engaged in a research partnership that is cooperatively funded by numerous state DOTs from all over the country for the purpose of executing a national long-term pavement preservation benefit experiment involving both northern and southern U.S. climates.

For the first time, performance of a comprehensive selection of treatments and combinations will be related to varying levels of pretreatment pavement condition in both hot and cold climates. This will equip agencies from all over the country with the quantitative data needed to select future treatments that will provide the best life cycle investment for each individual roadway.

Funding is provided through the national Transportation Pooled Fund that supports the NCAT Pavement Test Track ( The objective of the preservation group (PG15) experiment, in which FP2 is an equal funding partner, is to quantify the benefits of pavement preservation on both low-volume and high-volume roadways with results that are implementable in both northern and southern U.S. climates.

In the southern sections of the experiment, low-traffic test sections were built on Lee County Road 159 (near the main NCAT location in Auburn, Ala.), and high-traffic sections were built on U.S. 280 (near the NCAT Pavement Test Track in Opelika, Ala.).

In the northern sections of the experiment, low-traffic sections were built on Mille Lacs County Road 8, and high-traffic sections were built on U.S. 169 (both about 45 minutes north of the main MnROAD facility in Pease, Minn.).

Field performance will be monitored with similar automated technologies at both locations, and data will be stored in a common database. It’s expected that sections that do not fail before the end of the current (2015) research cycle at the NCAT track will be monitored well into the future, as long as it takes to satisfy the stated research objectives to fully quantify life extending and condition improving benefits.

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