National Pavement Summit Tackles Alaska’s Toughest Transportation Challenge
November 02, 2011
This two-day national summit is the only forum of its kind where such highly-specialized state and international specialists collaborate to address ways to make pavement last longer and cost less in Alaska and other cold regions. Few places in the United States pose the unique combination of transportation challenges involving permafrost, frozen ground, extreme ice and moisture erosion, and rapid surface deterioration due to harsh climates.
Attendees and presenters included engineers, planners, researchers, government officials, contractors, scientists, crew bosses, private industry, and technology experts from Alaska, the lower 48, and foreign countries dealing with similar cold-climate issues.
“This event is about leveraging the diverse expertise of many different fields to try and solve our pavement preservation challenges,” says Billy Connor, Director of the Alaska University Transportation Center.
The event took place at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage (located at 600 West 7th Ave.).
Presentations addressed topics such as methods of making stronger warm mix asphalt, recycled asphalt applications, and the use of thermal imaging on the Seward Highway. Innovations like these are helping improve asphalt in ways that help save costs and protect the environment. In Alaska, for example, warm mix asphalt is used to reduce the mix temperature of asphalt, thereby lowering emissions and fuel costs needed to produce it.
“Together we can figure out how to make longer-lasting pavement to reduce maintenance costs, and improve safety,” says Angela Parsons, Research and Development Engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
As the U.S. Congress debates versions of the upcoming transportation bill in tight budgetary times, Alaska is figuring out how to do more with less under major challenges:
The State of Alaska spends up to $140 million a year on surface maintenance. This figure does not include the costs local municipalities spend on road upkeep. (Source: ADOT&PF)
On average, Alaska drives up to 4.9 billion miles per year, and average Alaskans per capita drive 7,600 miles in a single year - many drive much more. (Source: FHWA)
For every dollar the state doesn’t spend to fix a road, each member of the public will pay an estimated three dollars as poor pavement brings on issues like vehicle damage and maintenance, insurance claims and raised premiums, and wasted gas from congestion. (Source: AUTC)
“With Asphalt in Alaska, the dollar you spend today on maintenance is ten dollars you will save down the road on repairs, replacement, or safety issues,” explains Mike Coffey, Statewide Maintenance and Operations Chief for ADOT&PF.
The Summit’s primary sponsors were the Alaska University Transportation Center and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
The next step for many professionals attending the summit will be Wednesday's kickoff meeting for an innovative research partnership evaluating methods of crack sealing on Alaska’s asphalt pavements.
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