Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC
Perspective of: Paul Vinik, Florida DOT
In my fifth and final conversation about NTPEP, I am speaking with Paul Vinik, State Structural Material Systems Engineer at the Florida DOT, a state that makes selective use of the NTPEP test protocol for the approval of bridge preservation products.
Could you speak of your role with Florida DOT?
- As the state’s Structural Material Systems Engineer, I lead the section dedicated to structures at the State Material Office for the Florida Department of Transportation. My responsibilities include managing our field approval inspectors as well as our corrosion, chemical, and physical labs. I also attend the NTPEP national meetings on behalf of the State Material Office.
From what I know, Florida does not require NTPEP testing data for the categories that entail bridge preservation, which are Polymer Concrete Overlays, Rapid Set Concrete Patch Materials, Structural Steel Coatings/Concrete Coating Systems and Hot Mix Asphalt Crack Sealant. Could you comment about it?
- In general, across the board, Florida DOT utilizes NTPEP testing on a lot of materials, way beyond the bridge preservation area. However, material producers are not specifically required to go to NTPEPOur specifications require independent laboratory testing and we recognize NTPEP as an independent laboratory providing testing to qualify products for use in highway construction.
So, do you use NTPEP as a source of independent testing?
- Yes, when our specifications overlap with the NTPEP work plan, then we accept NTPEP test results for those test parameters.
Industry representatives feel burdened by the fact that NTPEP is not accepted as a sole source of testing by the majority of the states. Duplicate testing is time consuming and costly. How do you respond to industry?
- I believe that if a state feels that additional tests are needed to prequalify a product, then those tests should be done. It is a prerogative of the states to specify suitable testing.Some states have special requirements. As an example, in Florida we have very high UV radiation and therefore we require materials that are resistant to UV degradation. We may want to have additional outdoor tests that are not required by states like Maine or Washington. Our goal is to use the highest quality materials that are likely to work in our climate for our applications.
What do you think about creating 3 or 4 climate zones for NTPEP testing that have common test protocol?
- NTPEP has already done that with some product categories. Reflective sign sheeting is a good example. NTPEP requires that the sheeting be tested in Louisiana representing the Southeast, Minnesota representing the Northern portion of the country and also Arizona for the Southwest. I think that NTPEP has already embraced that philosophy.
Can I say that NTPEP should consider extending its experience with reflective sign sheeting to the categories that entail bridge preservation?
- I think that it needs to be looked at material by material. If a material is not sensitive to the climate, it’s pointless. If it is, creating a climate zone test protocol should be put in place.
What should NTPEP do to become more appealing to Florida DOT? Again I would like to remain focused on the bridge preservation categories.
- NTPEP could consider modifications to their work plans so that they are more in-line with Florida DOT specifications and their test requirements are consistent with our prequalification process. However, I do realize this statement may be unrealistic.
In your opinion, what are NTPEP’s achievements to date, and conversely what are the shortcomings?
- NTPEP is a great program. It reduces time and costs for manufacturers by eliminating the need to have a product tested by each individual state. In other words, if a manufacturer wants its product to be approved in all 50 states, and all 50 states recognize NTPEP, the product could be approved in one step. From a manufacturer’s perspective, the program is very efficient, saving time and money.On the down side, I think NTPEP should push for more competition between the labs that perform testing. I think it would be beneficial for everybody if NTPEP can bring prices down for some of their required tests.
Do you know of any companies that complained of the high cost of NTPEP?
- I do not deal with manufacturers directly. I feel that in some in some instances, that cost is very high.