In a step to play a larger role in pavement research, a newly formed partnership with MnROAD is a centerpiece of the National Center for Asphalt Technology’s (NCAT) upcoming research cycle. The combination of traffic loading types and the range in climate conditions will provide unique opportunities for this partnership to address important national needs such as pavement preservation and performance issues.
NCAT and MnROAD are the world’s two largest full-scale pavement testing facilities using real construction methods and live trafficking under actual climate conditions. This provides an authentic environment for researchers to study and evaluate the performance of materials used in roadway construction.
“Both facilities and organizations have a great track record of completing applied research that gets implemented and pays off,” said Randy West, NCAT director. “These are the only pavement testing facilities in the world that use realistic climates, axle loads and speeds. Developing experiments to answer needs about pavement preservation options and validating asphalt mix cracking tests will help us more effectively utilize asphalt pavements, especially those containing innovative and recycled components.”
Owned and operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation since 1994, MnROAD is a real-life accelerated pavement testing facility located approximately 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis that’s committed to providing safer, smarter, and sustainable pavements through innovative research.
NCAT’s Pavement Test Track is located 15 miles from Auburn’s campus, where research is conducted on a 1.7-mile oval track comprised of 46 test sections. Sponsored on three-year cycles, the track recently completed its fifth cycle of accelerated pavement testing, which included the incorporation of pavement preservation research on Lee County Road 159. NCAT’s sixth research cycle will expand to include a section of westbound lane of U.S. 280 near the pavement test track.