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Environment, Science, State / Federal

Next Generation Concrete Surface – Another tool in the quiet pavement kit

Next Gen concrete is a relatively new tool that TxDOT is looking at for quiet pavement to abate traffic noise impacts on adjacent neighborhoods. This is a vicious impact for those who suffer it, but it is of little concern to those who cause it. Some at TxDOT like this measure because it keeps the money with the concrete industry and apparently involves less maintenance that asphalt pavement as a quiet surface. So it would be more durable.

Durability is an issue for quiet pavement. John Harvey, at UC Davis’ Pavement Research Center puts it this way: “If a road’s first enemy is trucks, its second is weather. Temperature changes from night to day, or summer to winter, cause roads to curl. And just like a paperclip, if you bend it enough, it breaks. “You get enough cracking, the cracks connect up. And so the piece is just sitting in there with no connection and it pops out under traffic.” Cities often fill potholes as a stop-gap, but Harvey says it’s a temporary fix. “Maximum life of a pothole repair: one year.”

Here is a link to a 43 page study describing characteristics and work plan: Evaluation of Long-Term Pavement Performance and Noise Characteristics of the Next Generation Concrete Surface.

As for claims that it is greener, that depends: concrete is NOT GREEN, nor is asphalt. Concrete is made in plants that emit more CO2 than anything except stationary power plants. Asphalt, of course, is made from asphaltic hydrocarbons, but nearly all asphalt is recycled at least once. TxDOT unfortunately is only thinking about this surface for mainlanes that are at grade (on built up dirt), which is not so many. Many of the mainlanes are elevated on piers, or what TxDOT calls bridges. All in all though, since it is strong, and concrete is not recycled like asphalt, it has a greener face than some things.

Here is a link to Minnesota DOT Next Gen concrete surface: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/materials/paveconf/Kramer_grinding.pdf

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