From Utah to Panama Following a Humanitarian Call

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Do engineers have a warm heart? Yes and a generous one!
Behind their notoriously serious face, engineers have a generous attitude, which responds to their social call. At the core of their work there is a dedication to servicing the communities by designing sound structures that are safe and last long, even in difficult environmental conditions.

A story that underlines engineers’ generous attitude is being written by Joshua Sletten, bridge management engineer with Utah DOT. Leaving temporarily aside his responsibility of managing bridges across the state, Joshua has taken the commitment of building a 150-foot suspension bridge in Luna, Panama, thus replacing the rickety, life-threatening bridge that is currently used by the local population.

Joshua will lead a 10-person volunteer team with “Bridges to Prosperity”. This non-profit organization based in Colorado has an inspiring mission, which entails providing isolated communities with access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers.

Information and a video about Joshua Sletten project in Panama can be seen here:
Information about Bridges to Prosperity non-profit organization can be found here:

A Conversation with Jeff Pouliotte about Coating Steel Bridges

Jeff Pouliotte picAuthor: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC
Coating steel bridges is a key technical topic with bridge preservation. It comes as no surprise that there are ten TSP2 Working Groups addressing the different aspects of this practice, from spot painting to surface preparation.

One of the experts in this field is Jeff Pouliotte, State’s Structure Maintenance Engineer with Florida DOT (FDOT). Jeff is the chair of TSP2 “National Bridge Preservation Coatings” Working Group.

Where does your interest for protective coatings for steel bridges come from?
Having worked for FDOT in design, construction and maintenance for many years, I realized that steel bridges often require repaint after as little as 12 years, while these applications should last 20-25 years. For this reason, bridge owners have to repaint their steel bridges many more times than they should have to over their service life. I also realized that there is ample room for improvement with this technology, for example, using high performance coating systems or weathering steel.

In Florida, as default systems, we have adopted the use of weathering steel for environmentally suitable locations and an inorganic zinc single-coat paint system for more severe environments. For aesthetically sensitive locations, we opted to retain a 3-coat inorganic paint system with a clear top coat for color retention and gloss.

How did you take the lead in the national effort to improve the practice of steel bridge coating?
It started with sharing my experience with the protection of steel bridges in aggressive environment at the South East Bridge Preservation Partnership (SEBPP) in 2012 in Atlanta, where I gave a presentation.

After the presentation, I was asked to put together a list of recommendations for how owners could achieve improved service life for their steel bridges. I subsequently put together a group of volunteers from the SEBPP and the AASHTO National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP), which was comprised of a few State employees and Industry representatives, which became the SEBPP Paint Group.

The group’s first products were a Report entitled “A Rational Approach for Planning Bridge Repainting Projects”, a calculation methodology to compare recoating options, and the SEBPP survey to determine Best Practices for Coating Structural Steel. The Calculator focused on cost comparisons between spot painting, overcoating and the removal and replacement of the entire existing coating system. It also included a methodology to compare mobilization and construction costs, life-cycle costs, as well as maintenance and protection costs.

The Report identifies the significant aspects of recoating operations that affect quality, such as: engineering evaluations for in situ coating systems, surface preparation, coating application, specifications, contractor, CEI and owner training and qualifications. At the urging of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Maintenance (SCOM) we modified the Calculator and the Report to include user costs for people sitting in traffic awaiting construction to clear up. I presented results of both at National Bridge Preservation Partnership (NBPP) in Orlando in 2014.

After the meeting in Orlando a consensus was reached to take the program to the national level. The Group has been renamed the NBPP Coatings Group, to acknowledge our national status and to formally acknowledge our interest in coating systems other than paint. The makeup of the Group currently includes experts from other State DOTs, NTPEP, Consultants, Suppliers, Delegates to the AASHTO Subcommittees for Bridges and Structures, Maintenance and Materials, TRB, SSPC, NACE and Researchers. We focused on promoting an AASHTO Domestic Scan “Bridge Recoating Best Practices”, which got support and endorsement from AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures (SCOBS), SCOM, all four TSP-2 National Bridge Preservation Partnerships, and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The goal of the Domestic Scan is to gather knowledge from DOTs across country on best practices for steel bridge coating protection. The Domestic Scan was subsequently accepted and is scheduled for completion in October 2016.

What is the short term goal for the NBPP Coating Group?
The goal is to promote knowledge that will allow Owners to improve the durability of coatings for steel bridge coatings. The report “A Rational Approach for Planning Bridge Repainting Projects” identifies the following as key aspects for having a successful bridge recoating project: performing an engineering evaluation of the existing coating system to determine if the substrate is suitable for overcoating; proper surface preparation; proper coating application; proper training for Contractors, Inspectors and Owners; and good specifications.

The Group is advocating the adoption of the Report’s conclusions, is focusing on finding ways to promote NACE or SSPC coatings training for inspectors and contractors, and is trying to involve the contracting community in our activities for their insight and knowledge.

And what is the long term goal for the Group?
The primary goal is to promote long lasting cost effective coating systems. In accordance with this goal, the Group recently endorsed a research project to collect technical data and develop design guidelines and specifications for duplex coating systems, consisting of a galvanized and/or metalized bottom coat with a high performance paint system top coat. We have already received support from SCOM for this research project. I also raised this issue during the midyear meeting of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures’ T-9 Technical Subcommittee for Bridge Preservation where I am the Vice Chair. As a result, T-9 will be asking SCOBS to also endorse this research project.

How does the Group plan to promote awareness of the financial benefits of supporting the use of best practices in steel bridge coatings?
We are planning to start a research project to help Owners develop methods to convince Legislators of the benefits of bridge preservation activities, and to free up more funding in this area. In parallel we should find a way of supporting those Owners who specify longer lasting more durable coating systems and have the courage to hold contractors accountable and reject insufficient work. Decision makers need to understand that longer lasting coating systems save money over time.

What challenges are the Group currently facing?
We need to create a liaison with all the stakeholders involved in the coating of structural steel bridges. We have reached out to the AASHTO Subcommittee on Maintenance, Construction and Materials, NTPEP, and the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA). The more people are involved, the more we can identify and address problems to achieve better results.

There is a great need to assemble and transfer knowledge. For example DOT structural and maintenance engineers as well as design engineers are not necessarily steel coating experts, so a liaison with other stakeholders is essential to achieve better results.

It would also be helpful to solicit advice from contractors, who can assist in setting up contract requirements and specifications. If contracts and owners hold contractors accountable, good contractors will thrive, while contractors who perform subpar work will see a need to improve which should help avoid the financial strain of redoing work.

And so, are contractors going to be part of the Group?
I would love to have contractors in the Group, but unfortunately we have not been able to attract them. Contractors could greatly help the Group shape an innovative bid process that awards contracts based on the best value and not the lowest cost. In Florida we have experimented with warranties as a first attempt to try to achieve this goal.

What is your experience with product Manufacturers?
Since Owners are in general reluctant to try new products, a major challenge faced by Manufacturers is the release of new products that do not have a track record. Accelerated testing is good way to prove the durability of coatings as an alternative to the track record. However not all Owners have the same Lab capabilities as FDOT in carrying out this challenging test.

Any closing thoughts?
A steel bridge coating system that lasts longer saves money over time and extends the overall service life of the infrastructure. Future generations will reap the financial benefits of long lasting coating systems, due to reduced maintenance costs. The commitment of our Group is to raise awareness of different solutions and provide tools to help Owners make correct choices.

TSP2 Bridge Preservation Coating Working Groups:

Jeff Pouliotte’s Presentation at TSP2 National Meeting in Atlanta in 2012

Jeff Pouliotte’s Presentation at TSP2 National Meeting in Orlando 2014 rational-approach- for-planning- bridge-repainting- projects-pouliotte/

Paint & Coating TSP2 Video Library:
SEBPP Paint Report Presentation – Pouliotte
Report – A Rational Approach for Planning Steel Bridge Repainting Projects
Bridge Cost Analysis – Calculator

Current and Futuristic Methods to Seal Concrete Cracks

Lorella Angelini
Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

There are many ways to design concrete mixes. Different types of ingredients and dosages can be used in various combinations so as to respond to construction and specification requirements. However all concrete mixes share one basic, common denominator: they should not develop cracks, even under stress conditions.

Not only are cracks aesthetically unpleasant, they are also very detrimental since they provide a way of entry for contaminants, such as chlorides and sulphates, into concrete. Once it penetrates into the cracks, water alone can cause concrete spalling by freeze-thaw cycles.

Between the technologies for permanently sealing cracks in concrete, epoxy resins are widely used, especially for structural cracks. Epoxies have great adhesion to concrete, high compressive and tensile strength, volume stability, and are available in a variety of formulations for different types of applications. For example, wall cracks can be sealed by injecting epoxies at low or high pressure, preferably moving from the bottom to the top of the wall. Other types of epoxies with low or ultra-low viscosity can be used to seal cracks in concrete decks or pavements. In this case the material is fed into the cracks by gravity. This application method is also used with HMWM (High Molecular Weight Methacrylate) or MMA (Methyl Methacrylate) resins that have a level of viscosity so low that can be compared to water.

In the future these proven technologies may have to confront with a new, experimental method to seal concrete cracks that is based on the use of natural bacteria. By introducing bacteria into concrete cracks, simply using a garden sprayer, long, thin cracks can be sealed in a relatively short time with the limestone compound produced by the bacteria, when these organisms come in contact with water. More information about the sealing mechanism is reported in the links. The Netherlands and the UK appear to be on the leading edge of this exciting development program.

Epoxy injection:

Gravity fed epoxies:

Gravity-fed MMA:

Bacteria-healed cracks:

The Effects of De-Icing Salts on Concrete Pavements

Lorella Angelini
Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

“…If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…”

                                   From “If” by Rudyard Kipling

Can de-icing salts be regarded as “impostors”? On one end they keep bridge and road traffic surfaces clean from ice during the winter, while on the other they generally create serious deterioration of steel reinforced concrete.

Not all the de-icing salts perform the same. Between Sodium Chloride (NaCl), Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) and Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2), the last two are much more effective against ice than NaCl, but at the same time significantly more aggressive against concrete.

CaCl2 can decompose the Portland cement binder due to its reaction with calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2), which is generated by the reaction between water and cement.

MgCl2 can decompose the Portland cement binder at an even deeper level than CaCl2 because of its reactions with calcium silicate hydrates (C-S-H), which are the backbone of concrete giving it its structural framework.

Deicers containing ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate can also rapidly attack and disintegrate concrete.

Here are a few studies on the effect of different de-icing salts on concrete.

Spotlight – “Bridge Notes” Initiative by Oregon DOT

Lorella Angelini
Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

A new communication initiative comes from Oregon DOT (ODOT). It is the “Bridge Notes” released on the ODOT web site under the Spotlight banner. It started on January 2016.

ODOT Bridge Notes are stand-alone articles. They are part of a series addressing technical issues of great interest for bridge preservation. The first two articles focus on steel painting and bridge deck rehabilitation. Upcoming articles will provide information about cathodic protection and strengthening low capacity bridges.

While technical publications about bridge preservation are widely available, Bridge Notes stand out for their colloquial tone, relevant but accessible information. Their aim is to get the attention of the Oregon general public, as well as the Legislators and Transportation Commission, with the ultimate goal to help increase funding for preservation actions for State bridges.

Congratulations to ODOT and Bridge Notes editor Liz Hunt, for the initiative and the bold resolution to take a step outside the boundaries of our bridge preservation community.

Modern Trends for Concrete Repair – My Top Three

International Concrete Repair Institute Convention

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

The upcoming International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Convention in Fort Worth, TX, from October 14 to 16, is titled “Modern Trends in the Repair Industry”. The Convention will gather consulting engineers, contractors, owners and manufacturers, who are experts in the field of concrete repair and restoration. Here is the link to the program of the Convention.

According to ICRI, the way we do business in the repair industry is changing from strategies to materials and from techniques to technology. Based on my education as a civil engineer specialized in construction materials, my top three trends for the repair industry are as follows.

  1. Use of materials that fully integrate with the structure to be restored, providing strength and durability but also the capacity to respond to stress and deformation consistently with the original structure.
  2. Give preference to materials that can be applied easily and successfully, even by unspecialized crews.
  3. Choice of materials that are safe for applicators, users and the environment.

Do you agree with my opinion?


A Conversation with Peter DeNicola about Life-Cycle Analysis

Peter DeNicola

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Peter DeNicola, Evonik Corporation

Peter DeNicola, Technical Marketing Manager with Evonik Corporation, is an expert with bridge preservation and maintenance, also having a deep expertise with concrete deck sealers.

Along with his many commitments, he chairs the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Committee 140 – “Life-Cycle Performance and Cost”.  I spoke with Peter about the activity of the Committee he chairs.

Could you tell us about yourself?

I graduated from Rutgers State University in New Jersey with a chemistry degree.  Shortly after graduation I started working for Evonik, which was Degussa at the time, based in New Jersey, where I live.

At first, I was part of the Research and Development team focusing on silane synthesis. I then moved to the application technology department where I put to use my R&D knowledge of silanes for the development of concrete protection applications. I have been in this position for 13 years.

I joined ICRI in 2005. I currently chair the ICRI Committee 140 – “Life-Cycle Performance and Cost”.

Can you introduce us to Committee 140?

We have a diverse group of professionals in the Committee. The group includes consulting engineers, manufacturers and contractors, who use products for repair and maintenance and also deal with the owners.  This diversity allows different perspectives and views of products and technologies, which are all taken into consideration in the Committee.

 What compelled you to take a leadership role with the Committee?

I had been working on several projects with Paul Tourney, who initiated the activity of this Committee in 2008. Like Paul, I strongly believe in the importance and the value of developing an analysis of products and technologies for concrete repair based on the criteria of cost and service life extension.

I wanted to help owners choose products and technologies based on an economic perspective including both cost of the application and its benefits over the years.

What is the mission of Committee 140?

To provide industry guidance for decisions that are based on service life extension of concrete structures as well the economic impact of the different repair strategies.

What are the Committee’s goals?

To develop a guideline document that will take a “cradle to grave” approach employing different maintenance and concrete repair strategies for extending service life of concrete structures. The document should allow an owner to formulate preventative maintenance plans, mapping out costs and actions to be taken in the short and long term with the objective of preventing major repairs.

Generally speaking, owners do not make a repair just because they have to fix something. They also take into consideration the long-term service life of their structures. For this reason they value tools that allow them to save money over time avoiding extensive repairs.

The guideline document that the Committee is preparing will include a net present value calculation tool that should allow owners to take the best repair decision for their budget. For example, by using the highest quality materials and best possible repair technologies an owner can spend additional $ 100 at the time of the repair to save $500 in 5 years. The guidelines will provide different net present value calculations related to different repair strategies.

You have mentioned repair strategies a number of times during this conversation. What about maintenance strategies?

Ultimately the guidelines will be focused on repair with a smaller section dedicated to maintenance.  It is true though that the guidelines reference existing codes, such as ACI (American Concrete institute), which include both inspection, repair and maintenance information.

When will the guidelines be competed?

We are planning to have a rough draft completed in one year.

There have been talks to combine the Life-Cycle Performance and Cost Committee with the ICRI Sustainability Committee to work on a joint document since the two Committees are working on a similar pathway.

What is your source of data for the guidelines?

For net present value calculation we basically rely on industry to provide service life data that are expected out of a certain product, technology and repair strategy.  For instance, repairs of delaminated and spalled areas of steel reinforced concrete usually have longer life expectancy when the repair material contains a corrosion inhibiting admixture.

The Committee also implements independent testing programs to verify statements from manufacturers. As an example, there are test data that allow predicting how long it will take for chloride to penetrate different types of concrete and start corroding the reinforcing steel.

Do you think the work of your Committee and the guidelines could be of interest to bridge preservation practitioners?

Yes, absolutely.  The ICRI guidelines will include a section dedicated to bridge decks and bridge substructures. Guidelines will cover several bridge preservation practices, such as deck washing.

I am looking forward to strengthening  the communication with DOTs and getting their feedback about the work of Committee 140.

A conversation about NTPEP with Paul Vinik, State Structural Material Systems Engineer at Florida Department of Transportation

Paul Vinik
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.

At the core of NTPEP program: a conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle – PART 2

Katheryn Malusky

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle

Here is the second part of my conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle about the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP).  In this conversation we speak about mission and goals for NTPEP as well as its programs for the future.

Katheryn is the Associate Program Manager for AASHTO’s National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP). She manages and oversees the operations of the NTPEP program and also works closely with several of the NTPEP technical committees and the NTPEP Executive Committee.

Derrick is the Chemical and Corrosion Laboratory Specialist at KYTC Division of Materials. He chairs NTPEP-Technical Committee on Coatings

1. Could you speak about NTPEP’s mission?

Katheryn – The mission of the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program is to provide cost-effective evaluations for state DOTs, focusing on product testing and manufacturing audit.

2. What are the goals of NTPEP?

Katheryn – Simplify the product evaluation process and make it more cost-effective for both the manufacturers and the states, reduce duplication of effort by state DOTs, serve as a “one stop shop” for manufacturers.

3. Do you think NTPEP has reached its goals?

Katheryn – Yes, I do believe NTPEP has reached its goals. This is supported by the fact that states continue to ask NTPEP to evaluate additional products or audit manufacturing plants. Representatives from several manufacturers regularly ask NTPEP to evaluate their products. This increases their visibility and product credibility.

4. In your opinion, what are the challenges that NTPEP has to address in the near term?

Katheryn – A major challenge is created by the approaching retirements of chair/vice-chairs of technical committees and also the personnel at test facilities. NTPEP needs to have a succession plan in place; otherwise we will lose valuable knowledge.

We need to find volunteers between state DOT s and industry members in order to assist in putting together the next version of DataMine, which is a big undertaking.

With NTPEP growing at a rapid rate, AASHTO needs to make sure we have the right amount of resources so we can continue to deliver the “wants and needs” of all AASHTO member departments.

5. Does NTPEP take advantage of the work done by construction industry associations, such as ICRI, ACI and NACE? 

Katheryn – We do have association representation in a lot of technical committees. If there is an association that is not included in a committee and wants to be included, representatives of the association could reach out to myself or the chair of a specific committee or attend the annual meeting. We welcome the participation of industry associations at our meetings.

On the other hand, if these associations want to know what NTPEP is doing, either AASHTO NTPEP members or chairs of technical committees can attend the association meetings, give a report and have an open discussion with the association members.

NTPEP deals with a lot of different products and technologies. It is hard for us to reach out to every association, but if there are associations that want to be more involved with NTPEP, we are open to establishing a relationship.

Derrick – There are a number of technical committees that do interact with industry associations on a regular basis, providing feedback on the work plans. As an example, the polymer concrete overlay technical committee communicated with ICRI on the topic of surface preparation. The concrete coating committee also got feedback from ICRI. On the corrosion side, we are very intertwined with SSPC.

6. How do you envision NTPEP moving forward?

Katheryn – Within the next 5 years NTPEP plans to focus on a number of areas with the purpose of promoting the growth of product approval and assessment program services offered to the members.

We are going to implement five new plant manufacturing audit programs:

1. Guardrail (AASHTO M180)/Guiderail (AASHTO M30)
2. Elastomeric Bridge Bearing Pads (AASHTO M251)
3. Erosion Control Products
4. Metal Pipe (AASHTO M36)
5. Reinforced Polyethylene Pipe (AASHTO MP20)

And four new product evaluation programs:

1. Warm Mix Additives
2. Timber Products
3. Portland Cement
4. Manhole Covers

7. What about joints, which is such an important element of bridge preservation?

Derrick – Over the last two years there has been an effort to move forward with a NCHRP (National Cooperative Highway Research Program) research proposal to determine an appropriate performance base evaluation of bridge joint materials. As soon as we get enough backing through the NCHRP process, we will be able to do some research and make evaluations about this industry practice.  An established protocol for bridge joint materials could be conveyed into an NTPEP process and a technical committee could be potentially added.

NTPEP is not a perfect fit for everything. Products and processes for local and / or niche applications do not fit NTPEP because there is not enough volume for a NTPEP technical committee to be established.

8. What about new emerging technologies?

Derrick – Emerging technologies are part of the AASHTO Product Evaluation List (APEL) process. This process exists for products that do not have a big market segment or a lot of competition. APEL is our tool to branch out to emerging technologies.


Thank you Katheryn and Derrick!

At the core of the NTPEP program: A conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle – PART 1

Katheryn Malusky

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle

I have had a long, interesting conversation with two people who are at the center of the action with the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP), Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle.

Katheryn is the Associate Program Manager for AASHTO’s NTPEP. She manages and oversees the operations of the NTPEP program and works closely with several of the NTPEP Technical and Executive Committees. Derrick is the Chemical and Corrosion Laboratory Specialist at KYTC Division of Material. He chairs NTPEP-Technical Committee on Coatings.

The conversation has been so rich with information that I decided to split it in two parts. Here is the first part. Next Tuesday the second part will be published.

1. Why was NTPEP created?

Katheryn – NTPEP was established within AASHTO in 1994, as a technical service program reporting to the Standing Committee on Highways (SCOH).

It combines the professional and physical resources of the AASHTO member departments with the objective to evaluate materials, products and devices of common interest for use in highway and bridge construction.

2. Is NTPEP an evaluation or a testing program?

Derrick– NTPEP is an organization that tests and evaluates products.

NTPEP should not be confused with an approval process.  It is the responsibility of state DOTs to establish acceptance criteria for test data received from NTPEP in order to accept or reject a product for use in that state.

3. How has NTPEP evolved over time, in terms of size, type of products, concept?

Katheryn – The program has grown from initial 5 product categories to include over 23 categories.  In 2008 a manufacturing audit plan was added to the program. This has helped NTPEP provide broader service to the member departments for both product evaluation and manufacturing review.

Product evaluations and manufacturing audits by NTPEP provide a central, unbiased source of data for our member departments.  Members can evaluate products that meet their specification requirements on a preliminary basis and have confidence in the data they are utilizing.

NTPEP also provides the manufacturers with a way to move their products for use by state transportation agencies, and know they will have a fair and level playing field for evaluation.

In 2013, we completed a survey of member departments regarding usage of data for all product categories.  There has been substantial growth over the past 4 years in state participation and data usage. Manufacturers have also become more involved with NTPEP technical committees in the past few years.

4. Should the NTPEP program be accepted by a larger number of states? For the four categories that entail bridge preservation, the acceptance of the program is not widespread.

Katheryn – We get this question very often from product manufacturers. Why 30 state DOTs are not looking at this data? Why are only 15 states looking at it? The fact is that NTPEP cannot tell states what to do.

NTPEP is an AASHTO technical service program and its adoption is voluntary, just like every other technical service program within the AASHTO engineering department. State DOTs can use the NTPEP program or they can do something different for product evaluation. For example, some states utilize the NTPEP program but elect to ask manufacturers for additional testing.

In order to make states better understand the NTPEP program, we organize a series of activities, such as peer exchange and face-to-face meetings. At the end though, it is a state’s prerogative to decide what to use and what not to use.

Derrick– Let me underline that state DOT membership in NTPEP is completely voluntary.

To reinforce what Katheryn said, it is a state’s prerogative to accept or qualify a certain material for usage. NTPEP makes great efforts to communicate with all 50 states at each level. AASHTO staff has done an excellent job of making inroads with each state, and also trying to keep up with the turnover of personnel in the states.

5. In your opinion, what are the benefits that NTPEP brings to DOT Agencies?

Katheryn – I can summarize the benefits in four points: savings of costs and time, assurance of high quality testing program, predictable testing schedule, and a large testing data base.

6. And what are the benefits to product manufacturers?

Katheryn – The program allows for a “one-stop” shop for manufacturers in order to have their products tested and evaluated. Manufacturers are also able to receive real time data.

7. What does it mean? 

Katheryn – NTPEP should be thought of as a data collection / distribution warehouse.  Manufacturers have the capability to review the data and approve it for release to the states for evaluation.

8. Can a manufacturer decide whether to release test data or not?

Katheryn – Only to an extent. In the past some data was not released. With our new software system this is no more an option. If a manufacturer is not satisfied with NTPEP test data, the manufacturer has two options: either to withdraw a product from the program or to contact the test facility for re-testing. If a manufacturer withdraws a product, it cannot be retested unless the formulation is significantly changed. The bottom line is that test data will not be left in a limbo.