InTrans / Dec 31, 2019

Best practice guidelines for real-time smoothness technology now available

Even as practitioners work to design and build pavements that can last 100 years with little maintenance, road users will continue to judge the finished surface by its smoothness and their overall ride quality.

Thus, one of the most impactful technologies for concrete pavement construction quality control is real-time smoothness (RTS) technology. However, as agencies began to implement this new technology to evaluate the concrete surface during construction, it became clear there was a need for guidance on best practices.

The National Concrete Pavement Technology (CP Tech) Center recently completed a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) field trial project demonstrating RTS technology in an effort to assist with implementation. Through the project, their lessons learned enabled the research team to develop the much-needed specifications and guidelines.

The document, Implementation of Best Practices for Concrete Pavements: Guidelines for Specifying and Achieving Smooth Concrete Pavements, is now available from the CP Tech Center’s curated RTS resource page available here. It provides general best practices along with key recommendations for quality control processes specifically as they relate to pavement smoothness.

Implementation of RTS technologies not only improves the road users’ experience but researchers also now recognize that pavement smoothness has an impact on the structural performance of pavements. For instance, roughness can exacerbate dynamic loading from heavy vehicles that significantly increases stresses in a concrete pavement, resulting in distresses and ultimately failure.

With this recognition, agencies have sought a balance between producing pavements that are “smooth enough” and ensuring that the contractor can achieve the smoothness requirements. The CP Tech Center has responded to those needs by identifying a number of best practices to ensure agencies achieve their smoothness requirements. In addition, the Center will continue to provide guidelines for implementing RTS technologies.

The curated RTS page is one of several resource pages the CP Tech Center provides on key topics that include concrete overlays, concrete recycling, geotextiles, pavement preservation, and performance-engineered mixtures.