BACKGROUND: The transportation industry will continually face emerging and new challenges that may influence transportation priorities and needs, particularly with regard to the preservation, maintenance, and renewal of the highway infrastructure. These challenges will result from long-range changes in many areas, including the following:
- Technology and innovations (e.g., high-performance materials, construction equipment and methods, and information and monitoring systems);
- Environment (e.g., climate change and sustainability);
- System performance (e.g., accelerated deterioration and accountability);
- Safety and security;
- Natural resource availability;
- Finance and budget (e.g., global economy, contracting methods, and costs);
- Human resources (e.g., education and training);
- Coordination (e.g., among transportation modes and related industries);
- Regulations and policies (e.g., environmental regulation and changing role of governmental identities);
- Demographics (e.g., population characteristics, including urban/rural differences);
- Customer expectations; and
- Traffic (e.g., loading and volume).
There is a need for a research effort to anticipate future issues; explore the potential role of new materials, tools, approaches, and technologies in developing and preserving highway infrastructure; and develop guidance on how such materials, tools, approaches, and technologies can be used to provide a means for enhancing system preservation, maintenance, and renewal in response to anticipated challenges. This guidance will help highway agencies be better prepared to anticipate and deal with the implications of the future.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research is to develop guidance for transportation stakeholders on emerging materials, tools, approaches, and technologies that could be used to deal with long-range (30 to 50 years) highway infrastructure maintenance, preservation, and renewal needs and ensure satisfactory system condition and performance.
PHASE I – Scenarios and Impacts: This phase will identifiy the factors and future trends that could influence infrastructure maintenance, preservation, and renewal and assess the likelihood and impact of various scenarios on future needs.
PHASE II – Vision Development: This phase will (1) identify and examine potential of new materials, tools, approaches, and technologies for meeting future needs for maintaining, preserving, and renewing the highway infrastructure and (2) develop a vision for a future, sustainable highway infrastructure. Potential barriers to the identified materials, tools, approaches, and technologies will be discussed.
PHASE III – Guidance and Communication: This phase will develop (1) guidance for transportation stakeholders on the use of potential materials, tools, approaches, and technologies for enhancing system maintenance, preservation, and renewal consistent with the described vision and (2) communication packages to convey the vision, objective, and products of this research to current and future transportation stakeholders. This phase will also identify future research efforts that are required to expand the findings of this project and to serve as a guide for further research opportunities.
PHASE IV - Deliverables: This phase will prepare and submit project deliverables, including a final report that documents the entire research effort, communication packages, and other items identified in the research plan.
Status: Project is complete. Work included Phase I and a part of Phase II; no further work wil be done in this project. The interim report on Phase I and a report on one of tasks performed under Phase II are available at