Civil engineering experts from the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing and Clemson University will begin researching and collecting data on the state’s roadways, thanks to the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Researchers will receive $1.76 million over the next four years to determine how roads can be better constructed, fixed and maintained to increase the lifespan of South Carolina’s roads. The first year’s research was completed last year and focused on examining preliminary data the state Department of Transportation had already collected on climate, soil, asphalt and traffic conditions.
The pavement design currently used across South Carolina is based on South Carolina-specific studies conducted by both universities between 1964 and 1973 and updates to an original 1961 procedure. This design doesn’t account for today’s increased truck weight and volume or material additives that weren’t available decades ago.
In the next phase, researchers will collect data unavailable from the state Department of Transportation by:
- Conducting field research and analysis on soil, concrete and asphalt; and
- Installing sensors in key current and future pavement section across the state to observe damage, wear and other impacts.
This new data and analysis will help researchers to forecast distresses to the infrastructure over the pavement’s lifespan using a state-of-the-art national computer model calibrated for South Carolina conditions.