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Welcome to the August edition of the Austroads newsletter.

The Austroads Board met in Darwin in early July. The meeting Communiqué provides an overview of the issues discussed and outcomes. At the meeting the Board approved the 2013-14 Austroads research work program. The new research projects are listed by program in the Communiqué and by subject category on the Austroads website www.austroads.com.au.  

Future Availability and Assessment of Alternative Surfacing Binders

Bitumen is an important component used in road construction in Australia and New Zealand. It is manufactured from a finite, non-renewable crude oil resource. 

Austroads commissioned research to study the performance of a number of commercially available alternative binders and bitumen extended binders to determine whether these materials could be used as a suitable replacement/extender for bitumen.  A lifecycle analysis was conducted on each of the binders studied so that the costs associated with their use could be estimated.

This report details the results of the binder and laboratory asphalt performance tests. The results indicate that most of the binders studied could be used in specialised pavement applications.  Bitumen extended binders containing tall oil pitch appear to be the most likely candidates for use as a direct replacement for the bitumen grades that are currently used in Australia.  A sprayed sealing road trial was conducted using a tall oil pitch (Tallex) extended binder.  The extended binder behaved similarly during the trial, in terms of its construction and performance characteristics, as conventional Class 170 bitumen.

Polymer Modified Binder Sprayed Seals Trials

This report describes the planning and construction of Australian field trials which will measure of the relative performance of polymer modified binders (PMBs) used in strain alleviating membranes in sprayed bituminous sealing. Issues addressed in the report include evaluating and selecting test sites, observing and measuring their existing condition, design, sampling and testing of materials, and a plan for ongoing monitoring.

The latest Austroads PMB specification framework AGPT/T190 has revised PMB classifications and includes the introduction of a new grade that is yet to be produced and field validated.

Field validation of the performance of these current generation PMBs will ensure appropriate binder selection enabling longer seal life and reduced maintenance costs. Nationally conducted trials will also avoid costly duplication of effort that would otherwise occur by conducting individual trials in various jurisdictions, thereby reducing both jurisdictional and industry costs, and reducing time delays in introducing improved binders into periodic reseal programs around Australia.

A Focus on Pavements

Pavements are the portion of a road that have been designed to support and form the running surface for vehicular traffic.
The effective management of pavements through their lifecycle has economic and safety impacts and requires a detailed knowledge of pavement behaviour.

The Austroads Pavement Technology Task Force provides the lead forum in Australia and New Zealand on road pavement technology.

Through the Task Force Austroads manages pavement technology development and education, monitors international innovations, harmonises standards and codes of practice, and facilitates information exchange and technology transfer among road organisations in the public and private sectors.
Industry groups such as AAPA, AustStab, CCAA and Roading NZ are represented on the Task Force.

The Task Force coordinates updates to the Austroads Guide to Pavement Technology. The 22 parts of the Guide provide fundamental information regarding the purpose and types of pavements, choice of pavement materials, and pavement design and behaviour. Detailed information is supplied on individual materials such as granular base and subbase materials, asphalt, concrete pavement materials, stabilised materials, recycled materials, bituminous binders, geotextiles and geogrids, earthworks materials, aggregate and source rock, seals and stabilising binders. Guidance is also provided on routine and periodic maintenance programs, rehabilitation works and the management of pavement construction.

Michael Moffatt (ARRB) is the Australian/New Zealand member on the World Road Association’s (PIARC) Technical Committee on Road Pavements. The Committee’s work program has solid links to Austroads activities and projects. The Committee is studying rapidly developing technology surrounding road condition monitoring and the service life of road pavement wearing courses. An update to the PIARC guide to recycling pavements in underway, and possible means and materials to reduce the carbon footprint of pavement materials are being examined.

Austroads' pavement research projects for 2013-14 are now listed on the Austroads website.  There are 15 continuing multi-year projects and seven new projects.

The projects aim to provide guidance on improving the structural performance of pavements,  improve understanding of material characteristics and vehicle interactions including enhanced test methods and delivery techniques, and provide guidance on management of scarce and quality resources (particularly in rural locations).

Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

Modular B-Triples: Next Generation High Productivity Freight Vehicles Webinar
29 August 2013, Online

Drainage Design – an overview of the Austroads Guide to Drainage Design Webinar
17 September 2013, Online

2013 Flexible Pavements Conference
22-25 September 2013, Brisbane, Australia

36th Australasian Transport Research Forum
2-4 October 2013, Brisbane, Australia

2013 Australasian College of Road Safety Conference | A Safe System: The Road Safety Discussion
6-8 November 2013, Adelaide, Australia

17th IRF World Meeting & Exhibition
9-13 November 2013, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Low Volume Roads Symposium
25-27 November 2013, Cairns, Australia

6th State of Australian Cities Conference
26-29 November 2013, Sydney, Australia

4th International Safer Roads Conference
18-21 May 2014, Cheltenham, UK