News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Wayside Furniture

Hennes Paynter Communications


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio: The quest for perpetual pavement
Engineers are testing roads built to lasts more than 50 years, and the design seems to be working
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
This stretch of I-77 is the northern edge of an experiment in perpetual pavement highway design. The technique is now a dozen years old, and data shows that so far, it's living up to its name.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

As the winter of our discontent continues, potholes and road conditions are forefront in people’s minds.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at road construction research and the quest for perpetual pavement.

 

Exploradio: Perpetual pavement

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:39)


North Canton's model expressway
The six mile stretch of I-77 from around the Pro Football Hall of Fame north to just beyond the Akron-Canton Airport is arguably one of the best segments of pavement in Ohio. 

A dozen years ago, engineers laid down a strip of what is called perpetual pavement, and so far it seems to be living up to its name, according to Shad Sargand.

He's director of the National Asphalt Laboratory at Ohio University and knows as much about pavement as perhaps anyone in the country.

Sargand helped design the experimental stretch of I-77, which includes pressure sensors to measure traffic load and a mini weather station to map freeze and thaw cycles.  Sargand says, so far the concept is working, “and the pavement is just perfect, and after 12 years we haven’t had even a quarter inch rutting on that pavement.”

Sargand is expected to report his final report on perpetual pavement to the FHA later this year.


Making pavement perpetual
But what’s different about this road?  And what makes it perpetual?

Cliff Ursich is president of the Flexible Pavements of Ohio trade group. He says the difference is a crack resistant layer underneath the asphalt you drive on.  

Perpetual pavement is like an 18-inch layer cake. On top is a thin layer of polymer reinforced blacktop called SuperPave; next comes a hard, rut- resistant layer. Then comes the crucial crack-resistant asphalt Ursich’s talking about.  

He says when a pavement cracks at the bottom and the crack works its way up all the way through the top, "you’re going to end up with a pavement that you’re going to have to rebuild, and that’s what we want to avoid.” 

Ursich says, when properly done, perpetual pavement should last 50 years or more with just an occasional resurfacing.  Engineers are monitoring three experiments with the new formulation, the one on I-77, plus a 10-year-old stretch of Route 30 near Wooster, and part of Route 23 in Delaware, Ohio.


Pepper Pike's perpetual pavement
The only city street in Ohio built of perpetual pavement is a one-mile section of Cedar Road. along the northern edge of Pepper Pike.

Brian Driscoll, former chief highway engineer for Cuyahoga County, says as recently as six or seven years ago, cities rarely used the construction techniques and asphalt formulations highway engineers were developing.

But in 2008 he decided to try it.    

Pavement consultants taught Driscoll and his crew to pay close attention to the bottom layers of the 18-inch thick roadway.

He says the pavement experts, "were a lot more particular [about ] the density requirements than we would have with for a conventional asphalt pavement.”  So he says the rollers were kept busy going back and forth compacting the bottom layer.

Driscoll also topped the road with the more expensive polymer reinforced blacktop, also rarely used in urban settings.

But he says for the overall project, the perpetual pavement added only 2 percent to the total cost, which he says, "was not that big of a jump.”


Better highways, but big problems in city streets
Perpetual pavement, however, can only be installed as new construction.  So pothole-plagued city streets require other solutions.  But Driscoll says when repairing damaged streets, the same principle applies as when building perpetual pavement, pay attention to the bottom layer.

He says in the typical 'mill and fill' repair where the top layer of asphalt is ground off, it's vital to take time to fix the base layer, which he says, "goes a long way.”

And while you may have a bumpy ride on many city streets, the Ohio Department of Transportation has a pothole hotline on its website.  And ODOT stands by the quality of its highways. 

The agency last year paid out about $1.2 million in claims to people who said their car was damaged on state roads.  But despite advances in highway design, on many city streets, it’s still driver beware.

 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

The generation gap in care for developmentally disabled Ohioans
I don't understand how a few hours a day of caregiving can possibly help a person who lives with complex/multiple disabilities. Many waiver recipients totally d...

Marijuana referendum may change more than pot's legal status in Ohio
If our representatives would act in accordance with the will of the people things like this wouldn't happen. They dragged their feet and blocked discussion on t...

Area pastors and congregation members protest justice system
I live in Cleveland. trust me when I say the high incarceration rate is due to the high crime rate.

Ohio's attorney general rejectsthe latest proposal to legalize marijuana
i think the ag launguage is money hes talking about drug companies must pay him more than responsible ohio can

PBS documentary chronicles the fall of Saigon through new footage and stories
Hi, Does anyone know the number - in the pbs special "Last Days of Vietnam" documentary, of how many Vietnamese were evacuated? Please e-mail me the answer. T...

Protest planned at tomorrow's FirstEnergy meeting
The problems of the poor and downtrodden have nothing to do with First Energy. They are the result of Republican legislators who consistently reduce taxes on th...

Ohio bill would help smaller communities with LGBT discrimination laws
Do we not try and have rights for all individuals equally? On the HUD list of "preferred" candidates who get "special consideration" it states that: For purp...

Ohio likely will continue with two types of police academies
Wake up people your wanting a Harvard law school education for a job that may pay a little over the poverty level. I don't know anyone who could support a wife ...

Police Week's ties from NE Ohio to D.C.
The men and women in blue who risk their lives everyday to serve and protect us....and this is as much recognition and appreciation that NPR/WKSU feels to offer...

First in a Series: How charter schools got a foothold in Ohio
If the interest where in education and there would be oversight of taxpayer dollars, charter schools would be okay. However, Charter School in Ohio are purely f...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University