Over 250 Attend NCAT Test Track Conference

With over 20 speakers, the conference delivers attendees the tools needed to make positive and innovative changes to improve their asphalt pavements.

NCAT hosted its sixth Test Track Conference March 27‐29, 2018, at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center in Auburn, Alabama. Held every three years, the symposium is an opportunity to present research findings from NCAT’s previous cycle of accelerated pavement testing. The primary areas of focus of this cycle were the pavement preservation studies and validating asphalt cracking performance tests, which include experimental test sections at NCAT and the Minnesota Department of Transportation's MnROAD facility.

During the two-and-a-half-day event, participants learned about cost-effective and performance-improving innovations in the design, construction, preservation, and maintenance of asphalt pavements. Representatives from sponsoring agencies also offered testimonials about how implementing Test Track research has helped their states build safer and longer lasting asphalt pavements.

The conference opened with a welcome by John Mason, vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University. Dr. Mason remarked on the example that NCAT has set for successful collaboration and interdisciplinary work and the continuing need for developing and strengthening partnerships between the university and industry. Kevin Hall, Hicks Endowed Professor of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Arkansas, followed with a keynote on the importance of achieving and maintaining balance in current and future asphalt pavement research and development needs.

John Mason
John Mason welcomes conference attendees and provides an overview of the research happening at Auburn University.

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall discusses the possibility of preventing rather than predicting pavement distress.

The remainder of Tuesday’s presentations focused on studies for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Georgia DOT, Florida DOT, and the cracking group, an experiment funded by nine state agencies and the Federal Highway Administration. The presentations were followed by transportation to the Test Track, where attendees were able to get an up-close look at numerous test sections, high friction surfaces, track instrumentation, falling weight deflectomer (FWD) testing, and profiling equipment. Events later resumed at the conference center with an evening reception.

Dave Timm Leads Tour on Test Track
Dave Timm describes how FWD testing is conducted on the Test Track.

Pavement preservation was a central theme of Wednesday’s presentations. The most complex range of experiments to date, this research includes test sections on Alabama’s Lee Road 159 and US 280, and Minnesota’s CSAH 8 and US 169. Jerry Geib, Minnesota DOT research operations engineer, shared preliminary observations and described how this study will quantify the life-extending benefits of pavement preservation treatments. NCAT researchers also presented on thinlays, open-graded friction courses, and high friction surface treatments. Afterward, participants had the opportunity to tour the local pavement preservation sites before returning to the conference center for a reception and dinner with comedian Rik Roberts.

Lee Road 159 Tour
Participants take a walking tour of NCAT’s pavement preservation research on Lee Road 159.

Rik Roberts
Comedian Rik Roberts entertains the crowd while providing insights into increasing productivity and customer service.

Thursday morning’s session consisted of a presentation of lab results from the cracking group experiment, as well as findings from the Delta STM rejuvenator study and an open-graded friction course study for Alabama DOT. The conference closed with remarks from NCAT Director Randy West and MnROAD Operations Engineer Ben Worel regarding the next research cycle and future sponsorship meetings and opportunities.

Test Track Conference Attendees
The conference provides a valuable networking opportunity and sets the stage for further cooperation.

NCAT would like to thank the Test Track sponsors as well as conference attendees, exhibitors, and reception sponsors. All presentations can be viewed online at http://ncat.us/pavetrack/conference.

There are various public and private sponsorship opportunities remaining for the seventh Test Track research cycle. For more information, contact Buzz Powell