The National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) just outside of Auburn, Alabama, is a world leader in asphalt research. Their aim is to perform “research on pavement thickness design, mix materials/methods, and pavement preservation” with the goal of “reducing the life cycle cost of flexible pavements.” NCAT is most commonly known for their renowned test track that utilizes accelerated pavement testing (APT). During each testing cycle 10 million ESALs (about 10 years worth of traffic) can be applied to the track in only 2 years. There are 46 different test sections on the track and each one is accurately monitored using temperature probes, a wireless mesh network, and strain gauges and pressure plates where applicable.
The FORTAfied Section
FORTA-FI® is featured in a Porous Friction Course (PFC) mix in section E9B which was sponsored and funded by the Alabama Department of Transportation when it was placed in 2012. This section had excellent performance through the first testing cycle and was therefore kept in place for an additional testing cycle of 10 million ESALs. As of April 2017, the FORTA-FI® section has been exposed to approximately 17 million ESALs and is showing no cracking, minimal signs of rutting, and a lower and more consistent International Roughness Index (IRI) than the PFC mix without FORTA-FI®.
In March 2018, NCATs Assitant Director, Buzz Powel, presented during the finale of the NCAT Test Track Conference regarding FORTA-FI®s’ section on the test track. After 6 years down and 20 million ESALS, the fiber reinforced section has no noticeable cracking, .01 in. of rutting, and no raveling with no changes in macro texture.
Due to this success, NCAT and the Alabama Department of Transportation have decided to test this section through another cycle consisting of 3 more years and 10 million more ESALS.