Research Partnership Award: Better designs for Minnesota concrete pavements

Concrete is the material of choice for many roads. A team of experts recently created a new tool for designing concrete pavements that last longer and cost less—work that earned them the 2015 CTS Research Partnership Award.

The award, presented at the CTS Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon (see related article), recognizes research teams that have drawn on the strengths of their diverse partnerships to achieve significant impacts on transportation.

Professor Lev Khazanovich and research associate Derek Tompkins from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering worked in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Concrete Pavement Association of Minnesota to develop the new design tool—named MnPAVE-Rigid.

Before this project, MnDOT designed concrete pavements using a program based on a modified version of a national design procedure from 1981. It was based on outdated data, didn’t take several important factors into account, and produced very conservative designs, Khazanovich says.

The new design tool makes use of the latest design procedure from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and incorporates local climate and traffic data, along with calibration specific to Minnesota pavements. This produces a program that better models concrete pavements and ensures that road designs are suited to local conditions, Khazanovich says.

MnPAVE-Rigid, a standalone Windows executable program, was officially made the MnDOT concrete pavement design program in 2014. It’s now being used by MnDOT district personnel and MnDOT-contracted consultants. New designs are typically one to two inches thinner than the previous designs, which will significantly reduce construction costs.

More about the Research Partnership Award—including project team members and an enhanced PowerPoint, as well as information about two other projects that received special recognition—is available on the CTS website.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of CTS Catalyst, a publication of the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.