: Civil Engineering Ph.D. Candidate Abdalla Al-Rawashdeh (R) demonstrates the use of the asphalt pavement analyzer to Rep. Stivers. L to R: Stivers, ORITE Director Gayle Mitchell, Deputy Chief of Staff Adam Kuhn, APLF Operations Manager Mike Krumlauf, Ohi

Photographer: Issam Khoury

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Pavement engineering facilities hosts congressman

Ohio University's Accelerated Pavement Load Facility (APLF) and National Asphalt Laboratory (NAL) welcomed a special guest on Wednesday – Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio's 15th Congressional District.

Stivers and staff, including Deputy Chief of Staff Adam Kuhn and Press Secretary Courtney Whetstone, visited the facilities -- part of the Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment (ORITE) -- to learn firsthand about the group's research and the key role it can play in a time of shrinking state budgets.

"This is an outstanding facility and program that we need to leverage for use across the nation," Rep. Stivers said. "Most importantly, the research conducted at the facility helps provide the best return on investment of taxpayer dollars that go toward road construction."

An indoor pavement test facility with full environmental control, the APLF features a full-scale two-lane test road that can be built from the soil layer up – inside the building. Temperature can be controlled from 10°F (-12°C) to 130°F (44°C), along with humidity and moisture.

"We can test road materials and construction techniques on a small scale with a full-width installation under extreme conditions, without having to risk building an actual road open to actual traffic," explained ORITE director and Neil D. Thomas Professor Gayle Mitchell, who is also chair of the Department of Civil Engineering.

The NAL is dedicated to the research, testing, and technology transfer of asphalt – including the design and construction of longer-lived asphalt "perpetual pavement" that requires less maintenance. Asphalt mixes developed at the NAL are then placed into the APLF for full-scale verification under various loads and environmental conditions.

On the visit, Stivers saw an experimental pavement installation that included four different thicknesses of perpetual pavement and four different asphalt surfaces, including three types of innovative warm mix asphalts that are produced at reduced temperatures and create lower levels of chemical fumes. 

"These are unique facilities in the United States," Mitchell said. "Data can be obtained to improve pavement performance in a few months what would take several years in the real world without inconveniencing the traveling public."

Ohio University-Lancaster Dean Jim Smith concurred on the value of the facilities. 

"This world-class facility is capable of collecting a large amount of test data that is important to sustaining our highway transportation system."

ORITE is a research unit within the university's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology.