Testing Center Helping Reshape Texas Roads

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Highways may soon be a lot more recyclable. Civil engineering Associate Professor Stefan Romanoschi is working with the Texas Department of Transportation to determine the durability of recycled materials for use in road construction.

Dr. Romanoschi will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of asphalt mixes containing recycled asphalt pavement and roof shingles. While TxDOT currently permits the use of both materials, there is little proof that they yield a better or longer-lasting road.

In preparation for the project, Romanoschi built an accelerated pavement testing machine that will be housed in the University’s new pavement testing center in Fort Worth. The portable machine, which resembles a truck trailer car with an enclosed axle and wheels, can run a full-sized truck axle back and forth over a pavement test section every six seconds. It allows researchers to simulate road stress and measure durability more efficiently than with current methods.

TxDOT is constantly searching for ways to improve or lengthen roadway life,” Romanoschi says. “Seeing how the recycled asphalt performs and how long it lasts could help them change the way the agency maintains roads.”

The pavement testing center is the first of its kind in Texas and likely will attract new industry partners for University-led research, says College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet.

We are seeing much more private sector involvement in highway construction,” he says. “This center is the perfect way for businesses to determine which road materials work best and how long those materials will last.”

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