MnROAD Partnership

NCAT has partnered with MnROAD, a pavement test track owned and operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, for a parallel study in both northern and southern climates. NCAT and MnROAD are the nation’s two largest full-scale pavement testing facilities where using real construction methods and live trafficking under actual climate conditions provides an authentic environment for researchers to study and evaluate the performance of materials used in roadway construction. The primary research efforts in the partnership began in 2015 and focus on two important national issues: pavement preservation and cracking test validation.

Pavement Preservation Experiment

Many of the same pavement preservation treatments installed in Alabama are being investigated in Minnesota using MnDOT materials and construction methods. The northern pavement preservation experiment sections are located on U.S. Route 169, a high-volume road, and County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 8 in Mille Lacs County, a low-volume road. This study includes treatment selection, test site selection and layout, scheduling, construction, performance monitoring, and data activities to quantify the life-extending benefits of pavement preservation treatments.

Cracking Group Experiment

The aim of the cracking group experiment is to develop and implement asphalt performance tests to predict cracking for common pavement distresses found in North America. There are several lab tests that claim to relate to one or more modes of cracking. However, most of these tests lack robust validation outside of the state where the method was developed.

Both MnROAD and NCAT have developed test sections to validate laboratory cracking tests by establishing correlations between test results and measured cracking performance in real pavement test sections within a very short timeframe. This research will provide much needed data on where to set criteria for specifications.

Test sections with differing asphalt mixtures that have a range of expected cracking susceptibilities have been constructed at MnROAD. A suite of laboratory cracking tests conducted on the mixes will identify which test results best correlate with field cracking as well as consider their variability, utility and practicality of implementation for both mix design approval and quality control testing. A crucial component of the study is regular performance monitoring of the pavement test sections for ride quality, distresses, strength and response.

Related Links

NCAT/MnROAD Partnership

MnROAD Pavement Preservation Experiment

MnROAD Cracking Group Experiment