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HOTLINKS to download PAVE reports, review upcoming NCAT training courses, query historical weather data, view current color radar or preview local forecast.

18,798 ESALs on the Track as of 2300 hours on October 8, 2015 (0.2% of the 10,000,000 ESAL goal). For the 2012 research cycle, final wire line rut depths averaged 5.6 mm (from a low of 1.1 mm to a high of 19.1 mm), while roughness averaged 118 inches per mile (from a low of 34 inches per mile to a high of 283 inches per mile).  The first full post-traffic pavement condition assessment for the 2015 research cycle will be conducted on 10/12/2015.

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NCAT_Pavement_Test_Track 1600_Lee_Road_151    Opelika,_AL_36804_USA 334.844.7304            

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Track Aerial

Aerial of 309 acre site (click here for photo album, or click web camera to see all views)

2015 RECONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE - Click here often to view the best projection we currently have for a reconstruction schedule in the summer of 2015.  This is provided in order to help state DOTs plan for out-of-state travel and to help those who are providing materials, manpower, and equipment to know when we think various aspects of the work will be completed.  Note that this schedule only shows paving.  Placement of preservation treatments could begin as early as the first week of August.

TRACK CONFERENCE - At the end of each 3-year research cycle, NCAT hosts a Track Conference in order to promote implementation of research findings.  This event was hosted March 3rd through the 5th of 2015.  Presentations and recordings from this event are available for download.

NCAT + MnROAD PARTNERSHIP - NCAT is partering with MnROAD in the 2015 research cycle to execute a study to quantify the benefits of pavement preservation in both hot and cold climates on both flexible and rigid pavements.  A webinar promoting the partnership was hosted and recorded on January 8th.  A copy of the slides is also available for download.

WELCOME to the home page for the NCAT Pavement Test Track.  The primary objective of this site is to effectively communicate our experiences to the world as we administer research designed to reduce the life cycle cost of flexible pavements.  Experimental mixes on our 1.7 mile oval (located about 30 minutes from the campus of Auburn University) are installed in 200 ft test sections that facilitate meaningful field performance comparisons, and laboratory testing is conducted on plant-produced material to facilitate practical lab to field performance correlations.   Anyone interested in test section sponsorship (which is open to both public and private participation) is encouraged to contact either Randy West (westran@auburn.edu) or Buzz Powell (buzz@auburn.edu) for additional information.  The fifth research cycle, for which the initial construction effort was completed in the summer of 2012,  is advertised on pooledfund.org.  The planning process is underway for the sixth (2015) research cycle, which will again include research on pavement thickness design, mix materials/methods, and pavement preservation.  We appreciate your interest and value your feedback.

CONSTRUCTION - Test sections will be rebuilt for the sixth research cycle in the summer of 2015 in a consensus experiment designed using a series of web meetings that began in the spring.

INSTRUMENTATION - Multidepth temperature thermister probes are installed in all 46 sections on the Track.  Paired with data from an onsite automated weather station, these data are used to precisely characterize the performance environment for each experimental section.  Additionally, the sections that make up the structural experiment have high speed instrumentation arrays consisting of strain gauges and pressure plates installed at select depths.  Measurement data generated by these devices are used to quantify the pavements' response to passing loads, which is useful in validating pavement analysis and design methodologies that are mechanistically based.  A wireless mesh network has been deployed along the entire length of the Track to facilitate high speed data transfer in a safe and efficient manner.

TRUCKING - This type of research is known as accelerated pavement testing (APT) because a design lifetime of truck damage (typically 10 to 15 years) is compressed into 2 years.  Trucking operations began in the fall of 2012 on October 23rd after the completion of construction, finish work (e.g., shoulders, striping, marking, etc.), and baseline data collection.  While the fleet is operational, an AM driver shift runs from 5:00 AM until approximately 2:00 PM, and a PM driver shift runs from 2:00 PM until approximately 11:00 PM.  Each rig in the 5 truck fleet targets running 680 miles per day (340 miles per driver) in order to damage experimental pavements.  Since all sections are subjected to identical and precisely monitored levels of traffic, it is possible to complete meaningful intrasponsor and intersponsor field performance comparisons.  Running so many miles in a controlled manner creates a great opportunity to conduct heavy truck research, and we are working closely with the trucking industry to meet their research needs in a manner that complements the work we do for the paving industry.  Select reports from the Program for Advanced Vehicle Evaluation (PAVE) are available for download.

FIELD PERFORMANCE - Every Monday, trucking is suspended so that vehicle maintenance can be performed and pavement performance can be quantified.  An inertial profiler equipped with a full lane width dual scanning laser "rutbar" is run weekly around the entire Track in order to determine individual wheelpath roughness, right wheelpath macrotexture and individual wheelpath rutting for every experimental section.  Additionally, 3 random locations were selected within each section in a stratified manner to serve as the fixed test location for nondestructive wheelpath densities.  Transverse profiles are measured along these same locations so that rutting may be verified using a contact method.  Falling weight deflectomer testing is typically run weekly, which is also the case with high speed structural response data collection and surface crack mapping.  Every month, wet ribbed surface friction testing is run with a full scale friction trailer.  Sound and permeability testing are run quarterly in order to characterize how the pavement surfaces are changing over time.  Cores are cut each quarter from the wheelpath of every section so that densification of each layer can be considered.

LAB PERFORMANCE - To facilitate lab to field performance correlations, a very large amount of actual plant run material is sampled at the time test sections are constructed.  This material is placed into climate controlled storage and used to fabricate specimens for many different types of laboratory performance characterizations.  Mix that was placed in the bottom of pavement test sections is subjected to beam fatigue and push-pull testing in order to characterize resistance to fatigue.  Mix that was placed in surface layers is subjected to dynamic modulus, flow number, APA and Hamburg testing in order to quantify resistance to permanent deformation.   Surface mixes are also subjected to overlay testing, semi-circular bending, IDT creep/strength testing and energy ratio testing in order to characterize each mix's cracking susceptibility.  Numerous other tests are run on mix constituents in order to asses their contribution to pavement performance.

COMMUNICATION - Representatives from each research sponsor are onsite while test sections are being built in order to provide oversight and ensure that as-built properties best meet their research needs.  Meetings of the entire sponsor group are hosted at the Track every 6 months thereafter in order to share preliminary results and plan for the future.  At each meeting, half of the time is invested in classroom presentations and discussions, while the other half is spent on the Track inspecting test sections.  The last 6-month sponsor meeting coincided with our end-of-cycle Track Conference that was held March 3-5, 2015.  Presentations and recordings from this event are available for downloadMany reports on Track research have been published and are also available for download.  Web meetings to define the new (2015) research cycle will begin in late March of 2015.

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Last updated: October 09, 2015.