Researchers in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department received over $400,000 in grant awards by the New England Transportation Research Consortium (NETC). The grants were administered through the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) for projects to further study and develop innovative technologies in the area of pavement material construction and sustainability.
Professor Walaa Mogawer, Director of the UMass Dartmouth Highway Sustainability Research Center (HSRC), received a total of $393,067 for two projects, one on pavement preventative maintenance strategies and another on reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) mixtures. Professor Heather Miller also received funding in the amount of $26,900 for a project to study pavement recycling methods and materials.
The focus of the pavement preventative maintenance project is to research existing best practices and adapt them to the unique variety of road conditions in New England (different traffic volumes, pavement materials, and northern climates). Additionally this research will attempt to outline pavement maintenance techniques and the inter-relationship with the timing of their application in New England.
The RAP project will investigate the potential of using higher contents of readily available recyclable materials, like Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP), to address the continuous price increases of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA). RAP has been used successfully in surface HMA mixtures since the 1970's at percentages generally around 20%. The concern associated with the use of higher RAP contents is that the resulting mixture might be unworkable and too stiff. However, new technologies have been introduced that may help improve the workability and performance of mixtures incorporating larger amounts of RAP and concurrently make them more environmentally friendly. These technologies permit production and placement of HMA mixtures at lower temperatures than conventional mixtures, producing more environmentally friendly mixtures since plant and field emissions are reduced. The lower production temperatures may also decrease the amount of mixture aging.
"This funding will allow us to further explore how we can improve the roads, bridges, and highways we drive on every day," said Professor Mogawer. "The future of pavement construction must be attained through sustainable, eco-friendly, and economical means. The work of HSRC is committed to that future."
Dr. Mogawer brings more than 20 years of experience in pavement design, maintenance, and rehabilitation to the lab alongside numerous students from the Civil and Environmental Engineering program. In addition, the lab is equipped with the latest asphalt and pavement testing equipment and technology. Established in 2001, the lab has helped establish a working partnership with local and state agencies, and private companies.