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.

Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation

Author: Ed Welch, NCPP-Bridge Preservation Engineerjm

Perspective of: Jim Moulthrop, Executive Director FP2

Jim has had considerable experience with the marketing of the Preservation Perspective for pavements thru the Foundation for Pavement Preservation (FP2), a nonprofit trade association compiled of Industry members. They have three Major Objectives: To Advocate for Preservation at all levels of government, To Support Research Funding, and To Communicate the value of Preservation.

Jim’s Key Points.  What he has learned working with Pavement side of Preservation:

  1. There was a great need to get Preservation in ”The Law” (MAP-21). FP2 spent extensive time and resources to promote the inclusion of the Pavement Preservation in MAP-21, and they were successful in having it included, and consequently are seeing a positive outcome.
  2. The Pavement Preservation quarterly magazine “Pavement Preservation Journal” is a great way to tell the story. With over a 5,000 circulation, it also generates revenue of $10,000.00/Yr.  thru advertising.
  3. LTAP buy in takes a long time. Local Agencies have few resources and without being exposed to the Value of Preservation they will probably not consider it. A continued effort in Local training eventually pays off.
  4. Use simple analogies to make the public understand. Make comparisons of Maintaining & Preserving Homes, Cars, teeth, etc.
  5. “Money is always an issue”, but FP2 Members have found that Research and Lobbying, that are costly, are effective. Jim’s biggest frustration is that FP2 is “never fully funded” to accomplish all the needs that they have defined, but they only have 30 contributors. There is always more to do, so it should be carefully prioritized.
  6. Once organized, Jim has found that you need to have top level people on the board (Executives, Directors & Owners). These are the individuals whose support is most effective with networking and funding development

Please post a comment on “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”. Hopefully, Jim Moulthrop’ s perspective on the Pavement side of the same issue will be food for thought and help us move forward as we promote the stewardship of our nations bridges.

TRB News Profiles – Larry Galehouse, National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP)

TR News, January – February 2015, Number 296

“Our highway infrastructure took decades and generations of Americans to build and is simply too valuable to be left to languish.”

An early champion for infrastructure preservation, Larry Galehouse managed maintenance programs at the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT) long before starting the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP).  In the 1990s he developed guidelines, specifications, and new processes for Michigan DOT’s Capital Preventive Maintenance Program, a model used for similar programs nationwide to extend highway pavement life.  He also worked on the original Lead States Team for Pavement Preservation designed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). “Every team member was personally committed to the success of pavement preservation and felt that we were blazing a new trail,” Galehouse comments.

“Our highway infrastructure took decades and generations of Americans to build and is simply too valuable to be left to languish,” Galehouse observes. “As with any valuable asset, we must work hard to preserve it by judicious and timely proactive maintenance.”

In 2003, Galehouse founded NCPP, a collaborative agreement between Michigan State University and FP2, Inc., to advance preservation through outreach, teaching, and research.  “Starting any new venture takes perseverance, but with the help of many people, we were successful,” he notes.

NCPP manages the Transportation System Preservation–Technical Services Program (TSP-2), created to disseminate information to AASHTO member agencies for preserving their highway infrastructure, particularly pavements and bridges. The program serves as a clearinghouse of comprehensive, up-to-date information on efficient and effective preservation measures.  NCPP also administers the AASHTO Equipment Management Technical Services Program (EMTSP), which supports successful governmental highway equipment fleet management. Under these programs, separate regional partnerships have been created for pavement preservation, bridge preservation, and equipment management, drawing professionals from federal, state, and local agencies; private industry; consulting firms; and academia.

“When you think about it, three of the largest assets of any highway agency are its pavements, bridges, and equipment fleet,” Galehouse observes. NCPP, TSP-2, and EMTSP each host an extensive website with a freely accessible library of technical and policy resources.

“Understanding the theory and practice of pavement and bridge preservation and equipment fleet management is critical for successful program implementation within highway agencies,” Galehouse notes, adding that these programs have helped coordinate and expand resource management efforts among agencies. “Many highway agency personnel now realize the positive benefits of these programs.”

For many years Galehouse and his staff have collected and reviewed baseline information for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on the pavement preservation activities of federal, state, and local agencies. This data collection has involved on-site appraisals with the agencies to discuss their programs and obstacles to implementing a preservation program. More than 40 agencies—state DOTs, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the FHWA Federal Lands Division, and several county highway departments—have been evaluated. The resulting information has helped develop national guidance on preservation and now resides in an accessible online database to help agencies set their own preservation benchmarks.

Galehouse also has facilitated pavement preservation technical transfers to highway agencies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Caribbean Islands, and China, and he has negotiated and helped arrange engineering student exchanges between Michigan State University and the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China.

“I am keenly aware of the necessity to train ever-changing highway agency and contract personnel in the application of new materials and the operation of sophisticated equipment,” Galehouse shares. “Training and certification can help ensure reliable and high-quality preservation.”

Galehouse affirms the value of both basic and applied research, which are vital to assessing innovative practices in the real world. “Basic research is needed to develop new materials and techniques; applied research is needed to incorporate advances and improvements into day-to-day operations,” he comments. “To do this successfully, we must recognize opportunities and make the case for innovation with officials who may have natural tendencies to resist change.”

Galehouse helped champion the formation of a TRB Standing Committee for Pavement Preservation. He became the first chair of the committee and worked to increase awareness of preserving the nation’s highway investment. Galehouse received bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering from Michigan State University and in surveying from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. He served in the U.S. Navy Seabees during the Vietnam War.


What product manufacturers think of NTPEP: the voice of Sika

Aamer Syed

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services LLC

Perspective of: Aamer Syed, Product Manager with Sika Corporation

I met Aamer Syed, Product Manager for concrete repair products with Sika Corporation, at the ICRI Fall Convention in Kansas City. We had a down-to-earth conversation about NTPEP (National Transportation Product Evaluation Program) and bridge preservation.

Sika has been TSP2 National Member for several years. Is bridge preservation an important area for Sika?

  • Sika is definitively a national player in the bridge preservation market.  We are present in all the states with technical and sales people. As far as technology goes, we operate in the repair and protection of concrete structures with a large offering that includes epoxy sealers, overlays, silicone sealants, repair mortars, and strengthening. Working with DOTs is a big part of our business, no doubt about it.

Do you have experience with the NTPEP program?

  • Sika was one the first companies to have products tested by NTPEP. This goes back 10 years when we worked with the Rapid Set Concrete Patch Materials (RSCP) Technical Committee.
  • Sika tested products according to three other NTPEP protocols: Concrete Admixtures (CADD), Portland Cement Concrete Joint Sealants (JS) and Polymer Concrete Overlays (PCO). I had been a member of the PCO Technical Committee.

What is your opinion of the NTPEP program?

  • On the face value, I think it is the best program we can have.  The idea of doing one set of tests and having it used by all the DOTs is something that manufacturers can definitively support. Manufacturers can submit a product to a large number of DOTs with one set of tests. It is a great concept!
  • Is it a practical concept? I think this is where the gap lies. AASHTO needs to find a way to make the program more widely accepted, more widespread than it currently is. The level of acceptance by state DOTs is lower than I would like it to be.  Acceptance level should be as high as 80% correspondingly to 40 states. In my experience, it is between 20 and 40%, 10 – 20 states. NTPEP needs to drive the program to get more recognition from state DOTs.

Do you have suggestions for NTPEP improvement?

  • In some instances NTPEP testing is treated as an additional set of tests required by some state DOTs. States say to us: “You have to bring NTPEP”. Then they say: “You have to do this set of tests on top of NTPEP”.  If you ask for NTPEP plus another set of test, you really ask a lot of manufacturers. It is very costly and time consuming for manufacturers to supply different sets of data for different requirements, for different DOTs.
  • Once more, I cannot agree more on the concept of NTPEP. It is a fabulous idea. Increasing the acceptance level is where the work needs to be done.

NTPEP is testing program. It is a “photo” of a product. It is up to the single DOT to decide whether they like this “photo” or not. What do you think about evolving NTPEP from a testing protocol to a certification program?

  • It is a great idea. NTPEP Technical Committees should be able to provide guidance to DOTs in order to help define an acceptance range for test results. Based on the wide range of climates we have in the United States, NTPEP could create tests protocols tailored to 3 to 4 climatic zones.  If my products pass requirements for two climatic zones, I should get approval by all the states that are in those two zones.  In other words, I may have a product that cannot be accepted in the states of the North-East, but it can be in compliance for the states of South-East or South-West that have a completely different climate.

 What about the representation of manufacturers in NTPEP the Technical Committees?

  • Manufacturers are already part of NTPEP Technical Committees as advisory people, but not as voting members.
  • It is important to strengthen the collaboration between NTPEP and industry associations. For example, ICRI (International Concrete Repair Institute) has done a large body of work related to testing programs for concrete repair material.  ACI (American Concrete Institute) has done work for polymer coatings overlay. I support NTPEP reaching out and collaborating with these and other organizations for the value of transferring knowledge.

Do you have a final recommendation?

  • I go back to what I said before. The Technical Committees should make a bigger effort to promote NTPEP testing program to the DOTs. It is unrealistic to expect that a manufacturer spends $20,000 – 30,000 for a NTPEP testing protocol if it there are only a few DOTs that solely rely on that program for product approval.

Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation

Dick Dunne

Author: Ed Welch, NCPP-Bridge Preservation Engineer

Perspective of: Dick Dunne, Director of Structural Engineering services, Michael Baker, Inc.

Dick is the former NJDOT Bridge Engineer and brings both an Owner and Consultant perspective to this topic.

Dick’s Key Points on Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation:

  1. Dick’s involvement: Every chance I get, I communicate in general terms with Owners, and fellow Consultants the need for Bridge Preservation.
  2. Looking at both sides: I feel that with quality based selection of consultant bids for Bridge Preservation Contracts is the answer for better quality of contract documents and project outcome. It captures the real needs of the owner. In other words: You must properly compensate a quality consultant for quality work. Don’t consider a Bridge Preservation Contract insignificant. They are the key to the most effective fiscal management.
  3. Today: TSP2 has made a great start in a short time. NHI Web Based training is an effective option. TRB AHD37 is a great move forward for Bridge Preservation Research. AASHTO SCOM T-9 and SCOM BPTWG are terrific avenues in the bridge community. All/some of these initiatives should be taken advantage of and will each promote the communication of Bridge Preservation in their own way.
  4. The future: We need to communicate more and when you think about it, Bridge Preservation needs to be linked to Asset Management. Owners need to invest (not spend) in their Assets with a preservation perspective.
  5.  Needs: We need Research that quantifies the benifit6s of Bridge Preservation, Syntheses and Case Studies are what the community is looking for. Also, marketing and lobbying should be considered an investment not a cost.
  6. Frustration: The Front Line Management is far removed from the Executives that create programs. Unfortunately, we are now referring to our “Operations Program” not “Maintenance and Preservation Programs” which is really “Reactive” not “Proactive”
  7. 7.  In Summary: Our greatest need is Quantifying the Benefits of Bridge Preservation. Sharing this information is the second half of this single need. Find real data and communicate the positive value whenever you get the chance.

Please post a comment on “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”. Hopefully, Dick Dunne’s joint perspective from the Owner and Consultant side of the same issue will be food for thought and help us move forward as we promote the stewardship of our nations.

A Conversation with Ted Hopwood about NTPEP

Hopwood,-Ted---2014Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services LLC

Interview with: Ted Hopwood, P.E., Engineer Associate with KY Transportation Center

The National Testing Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP) by AASHTO is dedicated to the US highway industry. In the last 10 years it has gathered a lot of consensus but it has also raised some questions.  I am going to explore different perceptions of NTPEP through conversations with industry opinion leaders. The first conversation is with Ted Hopwood, Engineer Associate with Kentucky (KY) Transportation Center.

You are considered an authority in the industry with an outstanding 31 years of service at KY Transportation Center. How would you define your area of expertise?

  • You can say that I am “1 mile wide and 1 inch deep”.  I deal with bridge maintenance and inspection with the purpose of keeping bridges in a good state. There are so many topics related to bridge preservation that no one person can be considered an expert of them all. I am kind of a generalist, who understands the topics and locates the expertise that is needed to properly address them.

Are you active with NTPEP?

  • Yes, the KY Transportation Center is part of the NTPEP team. We do tests for concrete coatings.  NTPEP is a testing program focused on materials. People in the NTPEP group are primarily from highway agencies. They essentially define test programs and put together committees when they need to tackle a particular topic. Since most DOT labs are very busy, NTPEP committees tend to outsource testing, collaborating with universities or private testing firms. 

Can you summarize how the NTPEP testing program works?

  • Speaking from the point of view of a manufacturer wanting to test a concrete coating product, the process starts with the manufacturer signing a contract with AASHTO. The manufacturer pays AASHTO so that AASHTO can pay the contracted lab for testing the product. Tests are done according to a protocol created by experts from different state Agencies. The manufacturer, who knows what tests are performed, furnishes the lab with the coating product. The lab performs some tests at its location, some others in the field. For example, concrete coating samples go to Florida DOT for exposure testing. When tests are completed, the lab develops test data, which are uploaded in a software program developed by AASHTO. This set of data is available to highway Agency material divisions.

What are your reasons for supporting NTPEP?

  • Before NTPEP, when a manufacturing company had a product for DOT applications, the company had to contact 50 states to get approval. Each DOT created its list of approved products based on its own test program and the successful use of products in other states. This put a strain on both the manufacturers and the highway material divisions due to the amount of tests they had to perform. In other words, things did not work out very efficiently for either group. The NTPEP concept stemmed from this inefficiency. It entails having one centralized group (DOT, university or private contractor) that tests the products and provides data. Each DOT looks at these data and establishes its own criteria for acceptance.

Are there other benefits of NTPEP?

  • I believe the NTPEP test data mine is another major benefit of the program. Almost any question about the performance of certain types of materials can be answered through the NTPEP test data mine.

What are your suggestions for improving NTPEP?

  • Looking into the future, I suggest that end users will get together under the TSP2 banner and establish uniform criteria for evaluating the test data, either regionally or nationally. My vision is for NTPEP to evolve from a testing to a certification program.  Otherwise, the certification program could be a product of the TSP2 regional partnerships.
  • I also think that the NTPEP program needs to expand the number of products to be evaluated for bridge preservation since a significant number of materials are not currently included in the NTPEP program. This also calls for a more structured relationship between NTPEP and TSP2.

If there were something about the program you could change, what would it be?

  • I would try to create standardization for acceptance of materials nationally or, at least, at regional level. Right now each state has its own criteria for acceptance.
  • I would also try to create a NTPEP test protocol for those materials that have niche properties that apply to a few states only. There are a lot of unique materials that are coming out, which are hard to characterize under the current NTPEP program.
  • Lastly, I support the idea of creating a NTPEP test protocol for testing superior materials, not only the good ones.  How do we go from the currently established standards to accepting better materials?  How do we evaluate great performing materials, when the testing is set up to evaluate the good ones only? It is nice to have good performing materials for bridge preservation but we also like to get great performing ones.

What are you going to focus on in the next years?

  • In the next couple of years I will focus my attention on test methods and procedures for the repair of concrete. I am also planning to study the diagnosis of concrete distress, an important aspect of the repair process. Too many highway repairs of reinforced concrete are not very durable. Successful applications require a combination of factors: proper damage evaluation, selection of repair material and procedure, and its correct execution in the field.

Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation

Author: Ed Welch, NCPP-Bridge Preservation Engineer

Perspective of: Drew Storey, INDOT Maintenance Management Operations Analyst, and Jeremy Hunter, INDOT Bridge Asset Engineer.

Drew and Jeremy were willing to do a joint interview giving the reader a broader perspective of INDOT’s answer to “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”.

  1.   Present Involvement: It is discouraging that in informal conversations with consultants they have a ”push back” perspective (not big proponents) when it comes to doing  Bridge Perseveration Contracts. These are traditionally not large projects and are not cost effective to the consultant. As a resolve to this INDOT is considering a conference on the Value of Bridge Preservation.
  2. INDOT is trying to get in “The Preservation Mode” and they feel that the TSP2 National Conference was a great avenue for “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”.

  3. Today: We must drive the need for Preservation. Give all Owners (States and Locals) the funding and skills to accomplish this. Get to it early as a dedicated program. Start with Specifications. This will move the needle of your Average Bridge Condition from Poor towards Good. The earlier you get to Preservation the better.
  4. The future: Need to promote Preservation on the Local Agency level thru the Local Agency Director. Steer Locals to put a percentage towards Preservation. Most local programs in place only address replacement.
  5. Needs: We need Metrics; Cost Benefit is the metric that owners are looking for. We need to agree how to measure future cost effectiveness (with examples).Internal buy-in is most important, but Legislators and the Public have to be involved as well. Surveys to the Public expose their understanding of needs and where marketing or training is needed.
  6. Locals:  Some sort of forum to show Local Agencies that they are saving money with Preservation needs to be incorporated in your program.
  7. Frustration: The Consulting Industry, large and small, need to see the benefits of Bridge Preservation. Ultimately Owners, Industry and our Bridges will be better off. INDOT understands that they can’t do it the way that they always have.
  8. In Closing: We need a “National Bridge Preservation Credo” that bluntly defines the need and value of Bridge Preservation.

Please post a comment on “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”. Hopefully, Drew and Jeremy’s joint perspective from the INDOT/Owner side will instill further perspective on how we can meet the challenge of getting the word out about Bridge Preservation.

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Let’s Start Our Conversation…

ed lorellaThe purpose of this blog, “A Conversation about Bridge Preservation”, is to speak about bridge preservation in an open and informal way, thus reaching the general public in addition to the specialists. TSP2 believes in the value of exchanging opinions, ideas and experiences between people who have a stake in bridge preservation or simply are passionate about it.

The writers, Ed Welch and Lorella Angelini, are two civil engineers who share a strong commitment to increasing awareness of bridge preservation within and beyond the construction industry.

Ed is from the Northeast and after a long career as the New Hampshire DOT Bridge Maintenance Engineer, is now the Bridge Preservation Engineer for the AASHTO-TSP2 Program facilitated @ MSU. Lorella is an independent consultant who lives in Minneapolis. She has decades of experience with manufacturers of specialty products in the area of concrete repair and protection..

During the next months, we will be covering two topics; the value of NTPEP (National Transportation Product Evaluation Program) for bridge preservation and the importance of Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation.  Feel free to suggest any other topics you would like to explore!

Stay tuned for an interview with Drew Storey and Jeremy Hunter of Indiana DOT.