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Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022 (2022)

Chapter: Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022

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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Long-Term Infrastructure Program Letter Report: January 31, 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26483.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

1 January 31, 2022 Ms. Stephanie Pollock Deputy Administrator Federal Highway Administration U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590 Dear Deputy Administrator Pollock: The Committee for the Review of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Infrastructure R&D Program met in person November 30 and December 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C., to review and discuss the progress of the Long-Term Infrastructure Program (LTIP). Although FHWA’s infrastructure research and development is considerably broader than the LTIP, the latter is the sole focus of this committee’s efforts. The LTIP collects long-term performance data on the condition of bridges and pavements that are valuable for guiding decisions regarding the maintenance, repair, and replacement of vital transportation infrastructure assets. The committee provides an ongoing review of the LTIP based on annual meetings with FHWA staff and stakeholders. Its specific charge is to “advise the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Infrastructure R&D Program regarding priorities in terms of the technical tools and products that state departments of transportation need to maintain and improve the performance of their pavements, bridges, and other structures.” The members of the committee are listed in Attachment A. The committee is supported by two Expert Task Groups (ETGs)—one each for the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program and the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) program components of the LTIP. Members of the two ETGs are listed in Attachment B. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and up until its most recent meeting, the LTIP committee met only by videoconference to receive brief updates on the program. During this period, however, the two ETGs have assisted FHWA’s LTBP and LTPP staff in conducting two significant virtual workshops, as described in more detail below. The ETG members have also participated in brief videoconference sessions since early 2020 for program updates and the discussion of specific topics. They relayed summaries of their meetings to the LTIP committee to inform its deliberations. The committee thanks Cheryl Richter, Director of the Office of Infrastructure Research and Development; Jean Nehme, Team Leader, LTIP Team; and all of the other FHWA staff who participated in and supported the meetings that led to this report. The staff have been consistently open and helpful in addressing the questions raised by the committee as it seeks to fulfill its charge. This letter report summarizes recent program progress, strategic issues, and committee recommendations for future actions. As described in the following section, the program has

2 produced some useful products and results over the past year and continued to improve user accessibility to data and information. In the second section, some strategic issues are identified with an eye to how the program can maintain future relevance to state departments of transportation (DOTs) and those who conduct research on their behalf. The final section offers the committee’s recommendations and next steps. PROGRAM UPDATES In this section the committee provides highlights from its November 30–December 1, 2021, meeting with the LTIP staff, during which time the committee received reports from the chairs of the Bridge and Pavement ETGs on their activities during the pandemic and updates from FHWA on a series of topics of interest to the committee. Bridge Deck Data Collection Experience in the field with equipment developed for collecting non-destructive evaluation (NDE) data, combined with the reluctance, at times, of state DOTs to close traffic lanes on high- volume bridges for traffic control during NDE data collection, caused the LTBP program to pause data collection in late 2019 in order to reconsider its approach. The committee supports and welcomes this reconsideration. During 2021, the LTBP program staff, with assistance from LTIP Bridge ETG members, organized and held a virtual workshop to gather input from state DOT experts, consultants, construction industry suppliers, and academia on the data needed to understand the performance of bridge decks, overlays, joints, coatings, and pretensioned and post-tensioned strands, along with the options for collecting the data needed for doing so. A report of the input received during the workshop is provided in a recently published LTIP report, which the Bridge ETG members have reviewed and found to be thorough and accurate.1 The LTBP staff are considering the stakeholder input received regarding decisions about future data collection, which would include gathering more data about state policies regarding deicing and maintenance and actual maintenance activities that several states have available in electronic records. Also included among suggestions for future data collection are making use of visual inspection and additional condition monitoring techniques beyond what the LTBP program has been emphasizing in the past. The Bridge ETG members have offered to assist the LTBP program in the development of its plan for future bridge data collection. Pavement Data Analysis Projects In late 2020, the LTPP program, with the assistance of members of the LTIP Pavement ETG, held a virtual workshop to re-evaluate the LTPP strategic data analysis plan. Invitees included experts from state DOTs, consulting, construction industry suppliers, and academia. Since the first version of this plan was developed more than 20 years ago, more than 100 data analysis 1 FHWA (Federal Highway Administration). 2021. Long-Term Bridge Performance Program Data Collection Workshop: Summary Report. FHWA-HRT-22-015.

3 projects have been completed, mostly by FHWA, but also with significant assistance from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) by approving projects undertaken by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). About 100 projects in the plan remain to be undertaken. Currently the LTPP program can only afford to begin one new data analysis project per year due to constrained funding. The program encourages other sponsors to fund other high-priority projects. Part of the rationale for the 2020 workshop was to update the priorities in the plan to better reflect the current and relevant interests of asset owners. The workshop consolidated nine objectives of the strategic analysis plan to five and increased the emphasis on asset management, as summarized in FHWA’s report on the workshop.2 The Pavement ETG members discussed the final report when it met in October 2021 and found it to be a good (a) summary of the stakeholder input received during the workshop and (b) overall update of priority projects developed during the workshop. Somewhat disappointingly, however, AASHTO’s Research and Innovation (R&I) Committee declined to adopt any of the projects in the revised plan to refer to NCHRP. Whereas R&I has approved six projects since 2018, none have been selected for the past 2 years. In general, whereas the committee is impressed that the LTPP program has an updated strategic plan for data analysis and by the conduct of the virtual workshop, it observes that the LTPP program lacks a compelling narrative that explains to policy makers and high-level DOT officials the importance of LTPP data to improved understanding of pavement performance and its successful applications to design, rehabilitation, and asset management–related activities. Many good technical documents have emerged from the program over the years, but their adoption and impact on the state of the practice have not always materialized and few asset owners in leadership positions appreciate the contributions the LTPP program has made in specific, tangible ways they value. Accelerated Bridge Testing At its recent meeting, the LTIP Main Committee received a briefing on the LTIP’s ongoing accelerated test of a bridge deck and superstructure at the Rutgers University Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing Laboratory, dubbed the “BEAST.”3 This enclosed laboratory can simulate extreme loadings and environmental conditions, including deicing treatments, of large bridge deck segments (50 by 25 feet) and accelerate deterioration by as much as 30 times compared to experience in the field. The committee was impressed with some of the interim results of this experiment that compared the ability of a range of NDE techniques to represent interior deck corrosion. Once verified and finalized, these results will be useful to asset owners and should be widely disseminated for that purpose. However, the committee noted that the results were influenced by inconsistent concrete cover, and the loading scheme did not appear to 2 FHWA. 2021. Long-Term Pavement Performance Data Analysis Plan. FHWA-HRT-21-088. 3 See https://cait.rutgers.edu/beast.

4 cause sufficient cracking or wear to accelerate deterioration. The committee looks forward to seeing the results of the analysis incorporating all of the data collected during the experiment. Information Portals The committee also received updates on the information portals (InfoPave™, InfoBridge™, InfoMaterials™, and InfoTechology™) that the LTIP developed and continues to enhance to better facilitate access to performance data and enable stakeholders to efficiently view, visualize, select, query, extract, and use the data for stakeholder-specific pavement and bridge engineering and management needs. In addition, the InfoTechology™ portal provides guidance on the latest techniques for measuring and monitoring asset conditions, primarily through NDE techniques. The committee continues to be impressed by what the LTIP has accomplished and provided to asset owners and researchers through these portals. In addition to providing data for analysis through the data portals, the InfoTechnology™ tool is providing information to keep practitioners up to date on current and best practices. Student Data Analysis Contest In 2021, the LTIP combined the previous student data analysis contest sponsored by the LTPP program with a new one sponsored by the LTBP program. Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to submit papers using LTPP and LTBP data. The papers are peer reviewed by FHWA subject-matter experts, members of the Bridge and Pavement ETGs, and others. Winners of the 2021 competition for pavement and bridge data analysis were invited and funded to present their results at the Transportation Research Board 2022 Annual Meeting. The committee views this activity as useful for attracting students to these topics early in their careers and for supporting training for the next generation of bridge and pavement professionals and researchers. STRATEGIC ISSUES Although the LTIP has had notable successes over the past 2 years, the committee believes that a range of issues stand before the LTIP program that need to be addressed. Perhaps the most significant issue is an apparent lack of commitment and involvement by state DOT leaders and other asset owners who should be the main constituency for a program of long-term data collection on infrastructure performance. A program with a timeline for collecting field data over decades can be difficult to sustain. The committee therefore applauds the efforts made by the LTIP program staff to consult state DOT pavement and bridge experts in their recent workshops. An important challenge that remains, however, is to gain the support of state DOT directors and the AASHTO state DOT leadership. This support is essential to inform the choices of policy makers in sustaining the program, whose funding level has declined considerably over the years. At the outset of the LTPP program in the early 1990s, the program had a strong constituency, including the leadership of state DOTs and AASHTO. This support helped sustain the program over its first 20 years, but even that support waned in later years as people rotated out of their

5 positions. The last significant LTPP effort to collect pavement performance data, on warm-mix asphalt, did not gain the level of state participation for data collection that had been desired. There are other probable contributors to the lack of awareness of and enthusiastic support for the program among state DOTs and AASHTO leadership:  The original purposes of the LTPP data collection achieved the primary goals of providing data for improving pavement design and understanding sources of pavement deterioration. The data still have value to states, but may not always be current regarding pavement materials (treatments and overlays) states are using or comprehensive, which diminishes the potential for program relevance, importance, and support.  Although every state DOT wants improved technical guidance on when to invest in maintenance or rehabilitation and what materials to use for asset management, their specific needs vary with traffic loadings, climate, soils, materials availability, and other regional considerations. It is difficult to design a national program that will serve the specific needs of asset owners across the full geographic span of the United States. However, clusters of states in different regions of the country do have shared interests and could be a basis on which to build constituencies. Even so, they need some results over a shorter time span (3–5 years) than the decades required for the LTPP program.  Asset owners are reluctant to close portions of bridges with high traffic volume for bridge deck NDE condition data collection, which can require closing lanes for several hours. Compared with the NDE techniques developed and relied on until recently by the LTBP program, technologies capable of collection without traffic control and with little disruption of traffic speeds are preferred. Beyond the issue of constituencies are the realities of resources. The LTIP has far fewer resources for data collection than the LTPP program had, which was in the range of $15–$20 million annually for data collection almost 30 years ago compared to about $8 million annually in today’s dollars for both bridges and pavements. This reality forces the LTIP to be more targeted in what it is trying to accomplish in the LTBP program and to define data collection in terms of specific goals that are backed by methodologies suited to those goals. Some goals may require research-quality data, others may not. States may be willing to collect some data following protocols the LTIP develops and some data may only be sufficiently consistent if collected by LTIP contractors. The LTIP cannot by itself meet all state needs for better guidance for bridge and pavement asset management decisions, but its data collection effort should fit within a larger FHWA–AASHTO infrastructure and research and development asset management strategy that includes the (1) necessary protocols and elements to monitor materials performance, (2) comparison of commonly used materials, and (3) development of predictive deterioration models. Such a strategy to improve condition assessment and prediction would encompass:

6  materials lab testing, including accelerated tests, to compare materials performance;  continued refinement of knowledge about non-destructive condition assessment technologies to assess asset condition, as being developed and shared through FHWA’s NDE lab;  long-term condition monitoring of asset performance when other approaches are inadequate; and  tool development. The committee is aware that broad elements of these activities are in place at FHWA and across the states, but is not aware if FHWA and the state DOTs have a common vision and are working toward specific agreed-upon objectives such as these. Strategic Plan for the LTIP The LTIP needs a strategic plan that addresses the important issues identified above. This plan should point to the benefits conferred from collecting the data and clearly explain, beyond generalities, where long-term data collection is essential and cannot be substituted by other methods. The plan should articulate a strategy for how the program can be sustained over time, which may require a rethinking and restructuring of the program. In this regard, the plan should be open to a combination of approaches, such as:  long-term federal field testing at selected bridges to meet specific objectives in the study of the performance of highway bridges, supplemented by accelerated testing or other means;  further large-scale accelerated testing for specific purposes, perhaps reliant on pooled- fund projects with clusters of states;  collaborations with clusters of states on shorter-term data collection in which states collect data following the LTIP protocols and that are partially supported by pooled funding;  further exploration of applying existing data, as elaborated further in the following sections; and  incorporation of unique bridge monitoring data sets already collected by individual states, modeled on what has been done in InfoPave™ for pavement data, such as the monitoring of pre-stressed tendons in segmental bridges by the Florida DOT and the collection of NDE data on seven bridges by the Idaho DOT. The plan should also include analysis of (1) the value of being a clearinghouse for the specific detailed bridge reports that were done for owners in the past and (2) the ways to extract and incorporate data (especially delamination, chloride, and corrosion potential survey data) from detailed bridge investigations that have been done on bridges that are in the InfoBridge™ database. The performance of latex-modified, low slump, and other bridge deck overlays after 20–30 years of exposure is of particular interest to states in northern climates.

7 The committee elaborates on specific potential elements of the proposed plan in the following sections. Regional Customers and Partners As noted above, the plan should recognize the problem of sustaining partners for a national program when these partners have different questions, concerns, and items to be monitored or evaluated based on local conditions, materials, climate, and so forth. One way to address this problem would be to explore regional partnerships and by collecting, or helping states collect, the data of specific near- and long-term interest to them. Doing so would build strategies with regional partners based on what they want, need, and are willing to help pay for. These might be collaborations relying on state-collected data over a few years for items such as deck overlays following protocols developed by the LTIP and funded through pooled-fund projects. Such strategies would define results that can be delivered in a time frame that will sustain interest in, and support for, the program. New Data Collection Focused on Specific Problems The committee starts with the recognition that the LTIP program’s constrained budget for data collection narrows what it can do on its own. It would be prudent, therefore, for the program to pick a limited set of problems to be addressed and make a careful selection of only those data that are needed and affordable to address those problems. Specific examples of problems to address include the lack of data needed for improved deterioration models and inspection intervals. For any federal long-term data collection on bridges, perhaps focused on bridge decks and overlays, joints, and coatings, the program may need to narrow its prospective long-term data collection to a small number of bridges for which more extensive monitoring can take place and do so in collaboration with state partners willing to assist and commit to the effort. Demonstrate the Potential of Existing Data The LTIP should consider how other data sources, such as Highway Performance and Monitoring System (HPMS) and National Bridge Inventory (NBI) and National Bridge Element (NBE) data, can be further mined and perhaps supplemented with condition assessment and lab testing to evaluate the performance of materials that states are already using. The LTIP role could be one of demonstrating whether and how retrospective analysis of existing bridge and pavement data can be applied in the near term to current real-world problems. For example, it may be possible to combine state data on bridge deck overlays with NBI data to gain insight on overlay performance over time for a sample of bridges in different regions of the country. Another possible demonstration would be on how the use of HPMS data, combined with the data states have on construction, traffic, and maintenance, perhaps supplemented with lab testing, could shed light on pavement overlay performance. It may take more years of NBE data

8 collection before these data would be suitable for analysis, but planning could begin for the types of analyses that might be done. The committee recognizes that some of the ideas suggested above may not turn out to be practical, but it also believes that the LTIP needs to develop a plan and strategy using concepts such as the ones outlined above that will further develop support among asset owner analysts and extend that support among the leadership of state DOTs and AASHTO. The committee would be pleased to assist in this activity, but would need a strong strategic plan to help in making the case for the program. RECOMMENDATIONS AND NEXT STEPS The committee recommends that over the next year the LTIP staff draft a high-level strategic plan for the committee to review. As part of this process, the LTIP should involve the Pavement and Bridge ETGs in ongoing discussions of more detailed considerations of data collection needs specific to pavements and bridges, including accelerated techniques. In addition to continuing to find ways to communicate completed research done by FHWA using LTIP data, the LTIP should develop a compelling narrative that explains the importance of the program and documents how it has paid off in specific and tangible ways. The committee also recommends that the LTIP program begin developing performance metrics by which annual progress can be assessed. The committee will be pleased to discuss and assist in these efforts. Sincerely, Paul C. Ajegba, P.E. Committee Chair and Director, Michigan Department of Transportation Attachments A: Committee for the Review of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Infrastructure R&D Program B: LTIP Expert Task Groups

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A January 31, 2022 letter report from TRB's Committee for the Review of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Infrastructure R&D Program's Long-Term Infrastructure Program (LTIP) summarizes recent program progress, strategic issues, and committee recommendations for future actions. The program has produced some useful products and results over the past year and continued to improve user accessibility to data and information.

Although FHWA’s infrastructure research and development is considerably broader than the LTIP, the latter is the sole focus of this committee’s efforts. The LTIP collects long-term performance data on the condition of bridges and pavements that are valuable for guiding decisions regarding the maintenance, repair, and replacement of vital transportation infrastructure assets.

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