Extending the life of the nation's roadways to save taxpayers billions of dollars and pothole-rattled drivers the cost of new shock absorbers is the challenge that UMass Dartmouth Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Prof. Walaa S. Mogawer is confronting in his laboratory.
"Road construction and maintenance is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States," said Mogawer, whose laboratory is located at the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center in Fall River. "Existing roads are deteriorating at an alarming rate and new cost-effective technologies are needed to provide solutions to save taxpayers a great deal of money."
Mogawer recently received two grants totaling $300,000 from the New England Transportation Consortium, a cooperative research effort comprised of the six New England state transportation agencies. With the grants, Mogawer and his colleagues will determine the best maintenance strategies to extend the life of roadways and evaluate new roadway materials that could last longer.
Dr. Jo Sias Daniel of the University of New Hampshire; Alexander Austerman, research engineer at UMass Dartmouth's Pavement Materials Laboratory; as well as undergraduate and graduate students will assist Mogawer on the projects.
Beginning March 1, an award of $200,000 will fund the research team's laboratory and field testing of roadway preventative maintenance strategies. The team will then develop a manual for the six states so the best practices are implemented. "Tests will tell us what the best treatment is and what time in the pavement's life you should apply it," Mogawer said.
Since November, researchers have been conducting seismic-based testing to evaluate new roadway materials technology. The $100,000 project involves studying the use of polymer-modified hot mixed asphalt versus surface treatments.
Both grants are two-year awards.
Mogawer has taught at UMass Dartmouth for 18 years, primarily in the transportation engineering field. He has served as a consultant for the Federal Highway Administration for the past four years.
"It's a hot topic, a national problem to address" Mogawer said of the effort to increase the service life of deteriorating roads. "Whether the fault is in the design, construction, high traffic volume or severe weather, pavements get damaged and we can't wait until they crumble to take action."
For more information on the Pavement Materials Laboratory, visit http://www.umassd.edu/engineering/cen/materials