In 1987, Congress established the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), a long-term, $150 million nationwide research effort to improve the performance of highway pavements and bridges. As part of their contribution to the SHRP, the Ohio Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, agreed to construct a three-mile-long test pavement on U.S. 23 north of Delaware, Ohio. This project encompasses four experiments spread over 19 asphalt concrete and 21 Portland cement concrete pavement test sections containing different pavement thicknesses, base types and thicknesses, and drainage provisions. Thirty-three sections were instrumented with sensors to measure the dynamic response to traffic loads and 18 sections were instrumented with environmental sensors to measure temperature, moisture, and frost depth in the pavement structures. A weather station was installed to monitor climatic conditions at the site and a weigh-in-motion system counts, classifies and weighs truck traffic. Six universities in the state of Ohio received contracts from ODOT to install the pavement instrumentation and four universities monitored the environmental sensors and weather station. ORITE was charged with coordinating the consortium. Results from this test road have provided ODOT and the nation with valuable information on pavement performance. Test sections have periodically been replaced with new experimental sections for ongoing projects, the most recent being four sections using varying thicknesses of a perpetual pavement installed and instrumented in August 2012.
ORITE faculty and staff were invited to play a major role in this SHRP project by developing a comprehensive plan for instrumenting the pavement and coordinating the efforts of five other universities in implementing the plan. ORITE personnel were responsible for selecting and purchasing the proper sensors and data acquisition equipment, and developing innovative techniques for installing the sensors during construction with minimal disruption to the contractor, pavement, and sensors. The successful completion of this project resulted in the gathering of data never before available to the pavement community and positioned ORITE as a leading resource for pavement instrumentation in the country.
Data acquisition procedures were customized for this SHRP facility to permit the simultaneous monitoring of up to 18 pavement sections during controlled vehicle tests. Up to 250,000 data points were obtained each second as trucks having various axle configurations, loads, and types of tires, and traveling over a range of speeds, passed over specific test sections. Data obtained during these tests permit researchers and engineers to assess the effects of these vehicle parameters and the numerous structural parameters contained within the pavement structures on the overall performance of the pavement.
ORITE personnel obtain environmental data periodically throughout the year to characterize the effects of seasonal variations on pavement structures, and continuously during the controlled vehicle tests to help interpret the response of pavement sections under actual truck loading.
Environmental sensors were installed in 18 pavement sections to monitor seasonal variations which severely affect highway pavements, including:
- average temperature and temperature gradients within the pavement layer
- moisture in the subgrade
- depth of frost within the pavement structure
In addition, 33 pavement sections were instrumented with dynamic sensors to monitor:
- strain in the pavement
- vertical deflection of the pavement and subgrade
- pressure on the subgrade
Controlled vehicle tests featured ODOT dump trucks and a Canadian National Research Council customized tank truck. Results from this test road have provided ODOT and the nation with valuable information on pavement performance. Test sections have periodically been replaced with new experimental sections for ongoing projects. The most recent include four sections utilizing varying thicknesses of a perpetual pavement installed and instrumented in August 2012.