A Conversation with Larry Galehouse, Founder of NCPP and TSP2

Larry Galehouse, founder of NCPP and TSP-2

By Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Larry Galehouse, the founder of the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) and the Transportation System Preservation Technical Service Program (TSP-2), has been a champion for infrastructure preservation throughout his career.

He worked for 29 years at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), where he developed specifications, guidelines and processes aimed at extending the service life of highway pavements.  In 1996, he was appointed by MDOT to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) original Lead State Team to share Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) technologies.  At that time, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, and Wisconsin were the leading states for pavement preservation.  This appointment was the start of Larry Galehouse’s long-lasting collaboration with AASHTO.

In 2003, he founded NCPP based on a collaborative agreement between Michigan State University and the Foundation for Pavement Preservation (FP2).  This effort was funded by many donors within the pavement preservation industry, the FHWA Office of Asset Management, and the University.  Under the AASHTO umbrella, Larry was instrumental in establishing the TSP-2 program, which is administered by NCPP.  The goal of both TSP-2 branches, Pavement Preservation and Bridge Preservation, is to disseminate information to AASHTO member agencies for preserving their highway infrastructures.  It essentially serves as a clearinghouse for comprehensive and up-to-date information focusing on preservation measures that can extend the service life of highways and bridges.  TSP-2 is organized through separate regional partnerships that draw professionals from state DOTs, local agencies, private industries, consulting firms, academia and FHWA.

I spoke with Larry about a variety of issues, ranging from his current commitment with NCPP to his vision for the future of TSP-2 Bridge Preservation.

As a leader with NCPP and TSP-2, could you provide an overview of your current responsibilities with these organizations?

I am the founder and Director Emeritus of NCPP.  Since I stepped down as the Executive Director and relocated in my home state of Michigan from East Lansing to Traverse City, I have been working for the Center remotely, on a half-time basis. This has allowed me to remain involved in several activities that I enjoy.

During my tenure as Executive Director, I founded a number of Pavement Preservation Councils that are designed to serve local road agencies.  To date there are Pavement Preservation Councils in Florida, Georgia/Carolina, and Missouri. There is a growing interest to establish additional councils soon (see LINK).  Each Council has Director that helps organize its activities.

Currently, I am providing webinar trainings on pavement preservation to the Florida Pavement Preservation Council (FPPC – See LINK).  Webinars are given on the last Wednesday of every month. Last year there were over 2,000 attendees that registered for these webinars.  The training sessions are organized through the Florida Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) located at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  Most recently, I have invited Brian Mintz with Phoscrete Corp. to organize a couple of bridge preservation webinars in collaboration with FPPC and Florida LTAP.  The webinars were very well received, and more should be offered in the future.

I am also providing webinar training to the Missouri Pavement Preservation Council on the third Tuesday of each month, and to the Georgia/Carolina Pavement Preservation Council on the second Tuesday of each month.  Once the COVID pandemic fades away, pavement preservation in-person trainings will be offered again.

In addition to the training, do you do any other activity for the Center?

I administer the AASHTO TSP-2 Emulsion Task Force (ETF – See LINK).  Prior to the formation of the ETF, there were no standard specifications that were nationally recognized for pavement preservation treatments.  The ETF has developed AASHTO approved material and design practices for a number of surface treatments, such as chip seal, micro-surfacing, tack coat, fog seal, slurry seal, scrub seal, sand seal, ultra-thin bonded wearing course, and cold mixes.  In addition, the ETF has developed construction guide specifications and quality assurance guide specifications for chip seals, slurry systems, and fog seals.  This is a herculean effort from an all-volunteer workforce that gathers 61 members representing experts from agencies, industry, and academia.

Last year, the NCPP was awarded the NCHRP Project 20-44(26) for implementing construction guide specifications for chip seals, micro surfacing, and fog seals.  I am the project PI (Ed Note: Principal Investigator) and Neal Galehouse, my son, the Co-PI.  The project’s goal is to develop and execute an implementation plan that creates awareness of the construction guides.  This effort includes outreach, training, and demonstration projects.  To date, 24 agencies have committed to at least one demonstration project using the new construction guide specifications.  The interest from the agencies has really exceeded our expectations.

What is your leadership style? What is important for you as a leader?

I treasure my employees and trust them to do their job properly.  I follow their progress and, if necessary, assist them to overcome any barriers they may encounter. I’ve always believed the leader sets the tone and should lead by example.

I don’t like micro-managing.  I am convinced that professional people should be able to do their job without interference.  Everybody can see the outstanding job that Ed Welch and John Hooks have done for TSP-2 Bridge Preservation. They are true professionals.  It was important to stay out of their way and let them express their full potential.

Can you speak of the evolution of NCPP and TSP-2 from the beginning to today?

The NCPP was founded in 2003 as a not-for-profit organization under the umbrella of Michigan State University. We began with seed money from the pavement preservation industry, Michigan State University, and the FHWA Office of Asset Management.  The initial money was spent in the necessary update of our office with new plumbing, drywall, paint, carpet, and furniture.  After that, we had to generate revenue on our own since NCPP is not funded by the University. Revenue was initially generated from contracts and training as it continues to this day. We also get an annual stipend from FP2.  Michigan State University provides the IT support network and covers utility expenses.

The concept of a preservation partnerships was hatched while I was with the Michigan Department of Transportation after the year 2000 final meeting of the AASHTO Lead State Teams.  At the end of that meeting, Roger Olson of Minnesota DOT, Keith Herbold of FHWA, and I met, brainstormed, and agreed that the best way to move pavement preservation forward would have been to regularly exchange ideas between agencies, industry, and academia.  It was in that instance that the idea of a partnership was born.

To verify whether this idea would have worked, a partnership meeting was planned in April 2001 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The meeting attendance from the DOTs and industry was beyond our expectations. There was tremendous enthusiasm to continue with more partnership meetings.

After forming NCPP, the first Midwestern Pavement Preservation Partnership meeting was held in 2004 in East Lansing, Michigan.  The meeting was an overwhelming success.

With help from Jim Sorenson of FHWA, a meeting was held with Ken Kobetsky of AASHTO to establish TSP-2 Pavement Preservation.  After approvals were received from the AASHTO Board of Directors, the program was launched in 2006 and TSP-2 annual pavement partnership meetings started in 2007.

Once the pavement preservation partnerships were rolling, discussions began to expand the program to bridge preservation. In 2010, the TSP-2 bridge preservation program was officially launched.  I met with Ed Welch, who proved to be the ideal professional to lead the bridge preservation effort.  Ed, who came from New Hampshire DOT, worked tirelessly along with Steve Varnedoe, who was director with North Carolina DOT, to establish the bridge preservation partnerships.  We owe both men our thanks for building the bridge preservation partnership into a successful program.  A few years later, John Hooks and Darlene Lane joined the NCPP staff to continue building on the success of the program.

NCPP and TSP-2 are intertwined so that the success of one depends on the success of the other. Our staff is dedicated to the success of both programs, which can be measured through technical exchanges, enthusiasm, and meaningful deliverables.

What is the role of industry in NCPP and TSP-2?

The success of NCPP and TSP-2 is reliant on industry support.  Industry plays a major role in providing technical expertise and delivering innovative products.  Obviously, there are organizational differences between the pavement preservation and bridge preservation industries.  The pavement preservation industry is represented by associations, such as ARRA, AEMA, and ISSA (Ed Note: See below under Acronyms), that when combined, provide a strong voice on technical and policy issues.  On the other hand, there is not a dedicated industry association for bridge preservation, even though I believe the bridge preservation industry has matured enough to be represented by their own association.  It’s crucial that the bridge preservation industry establish an association, thus having a place at the table and its voice heard on national transportation policy.  It is in the national interest to preserve both our roads and bridges.

What is at the core of TSP-2?

I would say that networking and getting to know your peers is at the core of TSP-2.  When agencies, industry, and academia work together, a synergy emerges that better defines common needs and identifies solutions.  The progress made by the TSP-2 partnerships to advance the state of practice has been tremendous.

Are the partnerships the driving force behind the success of TSP-2?

Absolutely!  Maybe we should say that people are the driving force behind the partnerships and the partnerships are behind the success of TSP-2.

What is the major accomplishment that these two organizations, NCPP and TSP-2, achieved under your leadership?

The major accomplishment was actually starting these two organizations.  Both NCPP and TSP-2 were established from scratch with a huge investment of my time and money.  I did not have a playbook, only a vision.

In the process of establishing the NCPP, it took time and effort to build a collaboration between Michigan State University, the Michigan Legislature, FP2 representing the pavement industry, and the FHWA Office of Asset Management.  In order to start the TSP-2 program, a pivotal role was played by the Subcommittee on Maintenance that provided a tremendous support and was instrumental in getting the program’s approval from the AASHTO Board of Directors.

Would it be correct to say that you acted as if you were launching a startup?

Establishing NCPP was similar to starting a small business. Running the Center is still a little frightening because you’re always going forwards or backwards. Things never stay the same.  It’s important to transition into an entrepreneur role by relentlessly looking at opportunities for growth.

In 2023, in a little more than one year, NCPP will celebrate 20 years from when it was established. I think this is a huge satisfaction for you.

Yes, I feel good about it and I’m very proud of what’s been accomplished.

What do you envision for the future of TSP-2 bridge preservation?

I envision a bright future for bridge preservation program. I say this based on the enthusiasm I can experience at the partnership meetings and on conference calls.

In the next future I think it is important for the bridge preservation community to develop national standards to establish a common reference between the different types of treatments and repairs that can be used by bridge practitioners.  This would require the development of treatment/repair specifications for materials, design procedures, construction guides, and quality assurance guides through the AASHTO approval process.

I also think it is important for the bridge preservation community to continue its outreach to local agencies.  Many local agencies lack the expertise required for preserving their bridge investments through timely and cost-effective treatments and repairs.  I believe the partnership members have made great strides by creating awareness among local agencies of the importance of bridge preservation.

Training is a significant aspect of the outreach effort to local agencies. I think that the partnership members can fill the knowledge gap by offering their time and expertise to teach local agencies.  The NCPP is able to provide PDH/CEU credit through Michigan State University to structured training courses offered through the partnerships.  Training courses should be reasonably priced, but not free.

When you speak of national standards, do you refer to something similar to the pocket guides that the FHWA Expert Task Force Group has developed for a number of bridge preservation activities, or do you have something else in mind?

It’s my understanding that the FHWA Pocket Guides are a series of notes and checklists for a specific treatment or repair.  These should not be confused with national standards.

There have been national standard specifications for the construction of highway bridges for many years, but very little is available for bridge preservation.  AASHTO is the body that sets standards for roads and bridges by approving and publishing specifications and construction guidelines.  The importance of standards cannot be overstated.  These are formal technical documents that establish uniform methods, processes, and practices.  Standards are written by a professional group of subject matter experts familiar with the technical field.

Who should lead the development of AASHTO standards for bridge preservation?

I believe expertise exists within the ranks of the TSP-2 Bridge Preservation Partnerships. Some members have significant knowledge and experience with certain treatments, while others possess expertise with alternative types of treatments.

Creating standard specifications for a bridge preservation treatment, such as bridge deck coating, includes the development of several standards, such as the material specification, the design practice specification, the construction guide specification, and the quality assurance specification.

The approval of a new standard specification by AASHTO is a long and laborious process that sometimes takes several years.  As soon as a specification is written, it goes through a series of reviews and resolution of reviewer comments until it is voted on for approval by the 50 states. A standard specification is approved if it receives 2/3 affirmative votes. Because of the strenuous approval process, AASHTO standards have considerable credibility.

Once AASHTO standard specifications for bridge preservation are available, states may choose to adopt a complete standard or incorporate portions of it in their state specifications.  In both cases, adopting an AASHTO standard establishes uniform engineering and technical criteria for methods, processes, and practices.

Bridge preservation standard specifications by AASHTO would definitively give a lot of credibility to the bridge preservation community.

Who should write the AASHTO national standard specifications for bridge preservation?

It should be a collaborative effort by experts from the bridge preservation community representing agencies, industry, consultants, and academia.  It’s critical that the drafting of standard specifications run smoothly.  To do so, I recommend appointing two champions, one from an agency and the other from the industry, who would be responsible for keeping the project on track.

Creating national standard specifications for bridge preservation would literally plant the flag for the work of future generations of bridge preservation practitioners.

Could you share something about your personal life? What you like to do in your free time? And what is your favorite book, and film?

I’m married with two grown sons and one grandson.  Obviously, family is an important part of my life. I thoroughly enjoy travel both domestically and internationally.  Whenever the time allows, I enjoy hunting, fishing, and boating.  I find the Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Series books very interesting and educational.  The only movies that interest me are based on true stories.


Pavement Preservation Councils
Florida Pavement Preservation Council
Missouri Pavement Preservation Council
Georgia Carolina Pavement Preservation Council
AASHTO TSP2 Emulsion Task Force

ARRA (Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association)
AEMA (Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association)
ISSA (International Slurry Surfacing Association)

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