The National Academies

NCHRP 10-124 [RFP]

Development of a Field Test to Determine Chip Seal Aggregate Embedment

Posted Date: 12/9/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 36 months
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/24/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Roberto Barcena
   Phone: 202/334-2544
   Email: rbarcena@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/25/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023


Chip seal aggregate embedment has a significant influence on chip seal performance. Too little embedment can cause raveling and too much embedment can lead to bleeding. In both situations, safety and performance are compromised. Proper aggregate embedment shall be evaluated as a critical factor when considering a chip seal treatment's design, construction, and performance.

Research is needed to develop a field test method(s) to measure chip seal aggregate embedment rapidly and accurately.


The objective of this research is to identify, adapt, or develop a rapid field test method(s) to determine the percentage embedment depth of a uniformly placed chip seal of known aggregate gradation.

The term “rapid” for this project refers to a test method(s) that can be used as part of the quality control (QC) process, and can provide its results after the initial chip seal sweeping, allowing for real-time adjustments during the construction process.


The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective.  Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished with the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

The research plan will be divided into phases and each phase will be divided into tasks.

At a minimum, the anticipated tasks include:


·      Conduct a critical literature review of relevant research, methodologies, tools, and technologies (henceforth “tests”) that have been used or could be used in determining the actual percent embedment of chip seal aggregate. Conduct a preliminary evaluation of the tests listing pros and cons and recommend tests that could potentially meet the project objective. Submit Interim Report No. 1 with a synthesis of the critical literature review and the preliminary evaluation.


·      Based on Interim Report No. 1 and the proposer’s experience and knowledge, develop a detailed work plan to further evaluate the recommended tests to meet the project objective. Submit Interim Report No.2 with the detailed work plan, including proposed evaluation criteria and rationale supporting the work plan. The proposer shall give a high priority to the simplicity and practicality of the tests. The proposer will need NCHRP approval of Interim Report No. 2 before proceeding with the project.


·      Execute the approved work plan and determine tests that best accomplish the research objective. Develop documents with draft language for the test procedure(s) and supporting construction recommendations. Consider that the rapid field tests could be used to address contractor workmanship issues for real-time adjustments and also can complement performance assessment relative to the chip seal embedment. Submit Interim Report No. 3. Interim Report No. 3 must document the research work thus far and present a detailed outline of the final deliverables.

 Note: Allow for a 1-month review of the Interim Reports by the NCHRP panel. For each review, the research team will meet virtually or in person with the panel to discuss the interim reports. For budgeting purposes, the proposer shall plan on having one in-person meeting in Washington, DC with the panel. Costs for the in-person meeting venue and travel costs for NCHRP panel members to attend the meeting will be paid separately by NCHRP. The proposer must be available for other virtual meetings as requested by the NCHRP panel.

Anticipated final deliverables will include:


1.    A conduct of research report documenting the project activities.


2.    Based on the research results, prepare draft language describing in detail the selected test procedure for review and consideration by the AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements (COMP). The draft language must include a recommended methodology to determine the aggregate’s least common dimension to reference the percent embedment depth.


3.    Based on the research results, prepare draft language with the supporting construction recommendations to determine the embedment depth of chip seal aggregate for review and consideration by the AASHTO COMP.


4.    Develop a framework based on field aggregate embedment as measured by the selected tests for developing an incentive and disincentive program to maximize the performance of chip seals.


5.    A technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note J). Additionally, include a roadmap for collecting data to support the incentive/disincentive framework and provide guidance on how project-level conditions and percent aggregate embedment relate to the expected performance of chip seals.

Note: Proposers may recommend additional deliverables to support the project objective.

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.


A. The contract for NCHRP Project 10-124 will be awarded for a fixed price of $400,000; this amount will not be subject to any adjustment by reason of the contractor’s cost experience in the performance of the contract. In addition to providing a detailed budget, the proposer should provide a proposed schedule of project milestones, deliverables, and progress payments that is tied to the detailed budget and schedule.

B. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2022. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.

C. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 45 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

D. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

E. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://www.mytrb.org/OnlineDirectory/Committee/Details/6753. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

F. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

G. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

H. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

I. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

J. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf

K. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

L. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs.

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/23QsS8S0x0HfpUXt0iUN 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 1/25/2023.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5336