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Industry leaders form committee to research concrete joint sealing

BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. — A group of pavement industry professionals joined forces to form a Seal/No Seal (SNS) Industry Research Committee to respond to a long-standing question about the value of sealing concrete pavement joints. The committee is working in cooperation with a large number of contractors and manufacturers responsible for the sealing and maintenance of pavement joints and cracks across the nation.

“As cost pressures continue, there is increased interest in eliminating transverse joint sealants as a means of lowering the cost of concrete pavements,” said Committee Co-Chair Scott L. Eilken, owner of Quality Saw & Seal of Bridgeview, Ill. “However, there is a lack of data in the industry to help guide owners about sealant effectiveness and the long-term impact of using or not using such sealants. Our role is to gather the necessary information to help owners make informed decisions that will ensure long-term effectiveness and best use of their concrete pavements.”

The committee is comprised of academic and transportation specialists with extensive experience in the design and construction of joint sealant systems. Committee members are the following:

• Co-Chair Scott Eilken, owner, Scott L. Eilken, Quality Saw & Seal;
• Co-Chair Charley Grady, director, International Group, CRAFCO;
• Dan Zollinger, Ph.D., P.E., professor of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University;
• Robert Rodden, E.I.T., director – Technical Service and Product Development, American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA);
• Michael Darter, Ph.D., P.E., director – Pavement Research Institute, principal – Applied Research Associates, Inc.;
• Larry Scofield, P.E., director – Pavement Innovation, ACPA;
• Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., P.E., consultant;
• Mark Snyder, Ph.D., P.E., vice president – ACPA Pennsylvania Chapter;
• Larry Lynch, P.E., division chief – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers; and
• Wouter Gulden, P.E., director – Engineering and Training, ACPA Southeast Chapter;

The key priorities of the SNS Committee are to raise the necessary funds to conduct testing, as well as secure partnerships with other agencies to pursue the necessary research. Key objectives include:

1) Develop a framework of test sections that can be evaluated for long-term performance to address the seal/no seal question for both dowelled and undowelled pavements in all environmental zones. This effort will consist of two major aspects. The first is developing new test sections, as necessary, and the second, to continue evaluation of the test sections evaluated in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study on Sealant Cost-Effectiveness. The SNS contracted with Soil Mechanics Engineers to conduct profile testing of several of the FHWA sites. In addition, the states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Minnesota have agreed to conduct profile testing of the FHWA sites constructed in their states. By conducting the 2009 profile testing of the FHWA sites, the performance period of the sections has been extended approximately 40 percent over the evaluation period possible during the FHWA study. Establishment of new test sections allows evaluation of different features and also provides additional data for analysis.

2) Obtain state and local transportation authority partners in conducting evaluations of existing sites. This approach leverages needed researchers and provides additional expert knowledge and ownership in evaluating test sections.

3) Conduct a literature search and document abutment movement and slab growth issues related to unsealed joints.

4) Document findings and educate the marketplace.

As part of the effort to construct new test sections, the first project is underway on State Route (SR) 59 project near Joliet, Ill. The project consists of constructing a four-lane facility through an urban area with curb and gutter. Intersections are prevalent within the project limits. The project, comprised of a 9.75-inch-thick dowelled portland cement concrete pavement placed on a 12-inch base, involves construction of eight sealed and two unsealed sections. Joints are spaced at 15-foot intervals. The two southbound lanes will be constructed first and are the location of the sealant experiment. The research project design consists of sealing the longitudinal and transverse joints with hot pour and silicone sealants. The transverse joint sealants will be installed in two joint geometries — a single saw cut and reservoir cut. The longitudinal joints will only use a narrow joint geometry. Construction of the test sections began in August and will soon be complete. The northbound lanes, which are not part of the sealant experiment, will be constructed during 2010. Walsh Construction is building the roadway and Quality Saw and Seal is constructing the joint experiment.

To learn more about the SNS Committee and its findings, contact Eilken at 708-728-1895 or Grady at 602-363-5519.