ODOT officials acknowledge that the future of long-life pavements will be more complicated than a mere black-or-white decision. “Some people might think the end goal is that one material wins over another,” says Brian R. Stacy, ODOT spokesman. “But we want to see how they perform and how we can apply lessons learned for other projects.”

The face-off started three years ago when the department initiated design work on a relocation of U.S. Route 30, an eight-mile trucking corridor between Wooster and Orrville in northeastern Ohio. The new four-lane highway was sited alongside its older two-lane counterpart. About 18,000 vehicles travel on the existing highway each day, and the number is expected to increase to 23,500 by 2026. Heavy trucks carrying freight make up about 21% of total vehicle traffic. Click here to view map

The original specification called for a long-life asphalt designed with “perpetual pavement” technology, a new design undergoing study in other states and at major universities. “This project started out to build and validate the perpetual-pavement concept,” says Fred Frecker, president of Flexible Pavements of Ohio, a local asphalt group.


ODOT was challenged by lobbyists who insisted that concrete pavement would save long-term maintenance costs. “The battle of supremacy between concrete and asphalt is in Ohio just like everywhere else around the country,” says Tom Norris, executive director of Ohio Concrete Construction Association.

The department turned the political conflict into a unique research opportunity. It challenged the two groups to “give us your best cross-section,” says ODOT Deputy District Director Tom O’Leary.

Consulting engineers at both pavement groups wrote the mix specifications. In March, a general contractor entered a low bid of $41.9 million, which was $7.4 million below ODOT’s estimate.

The new segment will include three new interchanges and 11 bridges. It is scheduled to open in late 2005 and wrap in mid-2006. Ohio University, Athens, will...

hio’s Dept. of Transportation hopes its unusual decision to pave one direction of a new eight-mile, four-lane highway in asphalt and the other side in concrete will help its engineers see through political shades of gray in their future studies of long-life pavement materials. The $53.6-million project, which broke ground on May 26, mirrors a national quest for highway pavements designed to last beyond typical 20-year life cycles with little or no maintenance.