A University of South Carolina civil engineering expert is researching methods that could lead to better roads, finding improved solutions for a current 50-year-old paving method
Associate civil engineering professor Sarah Gassman told South Carolina Radio Network her research is studying the materials used to build roadways. “We certainly have a lot of deteriorating roads in our state,” she said. “Through this research project, we hope to improve their understanding of the materials properties and pavement performance so that in the long term we can have longer lasting roads.”
Gassman is part of a four-year, $1.76 million study funded by the state and federal government to collect new data on the state’s roadways. Her team is collaborating with Clemson University on behalf of the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
The research will determine how roads can better be constructed, fixed and maintained so that new pavement lasts longer. The pavement design method currently used by the state dates back to an original 1961 procedure. Gassman said the average truck weight and traffic volume is much higher than it was decades ago. In addition, there are additives for concrete and asphalt that either were not used or were not available in the 1960s and 1970s.