PAVEMENTS, MATERIALS & GEOTECHNOLOGY & INFRASTRUCTURE ASSESSMENT

The foundation of any soundly implemented highway project is quality materials, superb engineering, and a forward-looking maintenance strategy. Without these, even new roads can quickly fall into a state of disrepair, causing transportation agencies to shoulder immense costs to preserve their operations. KTC’s Pavements, Materials, Geotechnology, and Infrastructure Assessment group oversees a sweeping research program dedicated to improving the durability, resiliency, and service lives of roadways, highways, and bridges. Researchers work on numerous projects focused on pavement preservation, adding additives to asphalt mixes, and infrastructure assessment. The group has been at the forefront of the movement to leverage new and emerging non-destructive technologies such as LiDAR, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and drone inspection.  On behalf of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the group has undertaken many projects that used GPR to inspect bridge decks, pavement condition, and tunnels, and is currently investigating how LiDAR can facilitate highway resurfacing projects and determine bridge clearance heights along busy roadways. The development of guidance for pavement design is currently underway, which will help to improve road construction practices throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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Emerging Technologies

KTC researchers gather forensic analysis data on pavements, bridges and other structures with mobile test equipment, some of which offer non-destructive methods of diagnosing pavement and structure issues. Compared to conventional techniques, these methods require less time to find the solution to the problem and often prove to be more cost-efficient. Because much of the test equipment is vehicle-mounted, gathering data does not disrupt traffic and information is collected in a safer environment.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR): topographically maps pavement surfaces and analyzes water flow, measures bridge and overpass heights, inventories current conditions and detects changes in bridge decks and tunnel structures.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR): maps the subterranean cross-section of pavement, measures the pavement layer thickness, and identifies voids and possible areas with low sub-grade strength.

Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD):  collects pavement stiffness/modulus in multiple areas along a length of pavement.

Video and Drone Inspection: diagnoses issues in pipelines, bridges, or other locations where it is unsafe for workers to inspect.

AI/Machine learning: scans stock photos of roadway networks and learns to recognize and pinpoint features such as guardrail and other highway assets.

To offer clients real-time project results, researchers developed a secure ArcGIS project tracking database that geolocates projects, overpasses and bridges, active landslides, and other historical geologic information. When the user clicks on points on the map, a project information file opens, allowing engineering results to be delivered to the project team quickly and in the field, if needed. Click on the map to the left for a demonstration of the database functionality.

To offer clients real-time project results, researchers developed a secure ArcGIS project tracking database that geolocates projects, overpasses and bridges, active landslides, and other historical geologic information. When the user clicks on points on the map, a project information file opens, allowing engineering results to be delivered to the project team quickly and in the field, if needed. 

Click on the map to the left for a demonstration of the database functionality.

Research in Progress

Pavements, Materials, Geotechnology & Infrastructure Assessment Faculty & Staff

Brad Rister

Program Manager

859-257-7331

brad.rister@uky.edu

Kean Ashurst

Research Engineer

859-257-7319

kean.ashurst@uky.edu

Jamie Creech

Engineering Technician

859-257-7208

jamie.creech@uky.edu

Levi McIntosh

Engineering Technician

859-257-7307

lmcintosh@uky.edu

Tim Jones

Engineering Technician

859-257-7381

tim.jones@uky.edu

Tim Scully

Engineering Technician

859-257-7224

tim.scully@uky.edu

Charlie Sun

Senior Research Engineer

859-257-7330

charlie.sun@uky.edu