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UTEP Center Signs Interagency Cooperative Contract with TxDOT to Develop Sustainable Street Surfaces

The University of Texas at El Paso’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems recently signed a $600,000 interagency cooperative contract with the Texas Department of Transportation. Photo courtesy of Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications.
The University of Texas at El Paso’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems recently signed a $600,000 interagency cooperative contract with the Texas Department of Transportation. Photo courtesy of Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications.
EL PASO, TX — The University of Texas at El Paso’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CTIS) recently signed a $600,000 interagency cooperative contract with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to implement the concept of balanced mix design (BMD) in the construction of flexible street surfaces throughout the state.

The contract’s co-principal investigators include Soheil Nazarian, Ph.D., Professor of Civil Engineering; Imad Abdallah, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and CTIS Executive Director; and Victor Garcia, CTIS Research Associate. The trio are joined by doctoral student Prathmesh Jickhar, master’s student Denis Vieira and 14 undergraduates who are gaining firsthand experience on the implementation of BMD, which develops asphalt using performance tests on appropriately conditioned specimens that address multiple modes of distress that consider aging, traffic, climate and location within pavement structure.

“The main outcome is not only envisioned to be a new generation of high-quality pavement materials but also young civil engineering students who are currently being exposed to challenging concepts,” Abdallah said.

TxDOT and the Texas Asphalt Pavement Association are engaged in a cooperative effort to actively implement the BMD concept on street surfaces.

Several sites will be selected from participating TxDOT districts to validate the testing requirements and design specifications for BMDs recently developed through an ongoing research project at CTIS. The test sites will be comprehensively investigated and monitored by UTEP, and the Center for Transportation Research from The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute for at least three years.

“This effort is a great opportunity for DOTs, industry and academic institutions to engineer innovative and sustainable solutions for providing more durable and long-lasting pavements,” Garcia said.

TxDOT is currently responsible for maintaining approximately 197,000 lane-miles of highway infrastructure. With the implementation of the BMD concept, a cost-savings of approximately $75 million annually is expected if the performance of the roadways and mix design process is improved by 5 percent.

“This work is expected to revolutionize the design and construction process of flexible pavements,” Nazarian said.

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