Innovations for Highway Pavement are Demonstrated in Idaho

April 29, 1999

A field demonstration of new pavement maintenance materials and techniques took place at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds in Boise. This demonstration was part of an AASHTO-sponsored program, and those attending the event included transportation professionals from state, county, and municipal government agencies in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State.

The genesis of both that field demonstration in Idaho’s capital city and the AASHTO initiative encompassing it could be traced back to the enactment of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Location Act a dozen years earlier. That federal law authorized the establishment of the original Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), a research effort to improve the performance, durability, and safety of highways.

The studies conducted under SHRP led to the development or evaluation of more than 100 products to help enhance the nation’s highways. This, in turn, resulted in provisions in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) for implementing those products. The Federal Highway Administration assumed a coordinating role in this regard, and the AASHTO Task Force on SHRP Implementation was created to help with the widespread introduction and use of the products. The TRB (Transportation Research Board)-SHRP Committee was formed to monitor the progress of those efforts.

One of AASHTO’s specific means for helping to move SHRP products out of laboratories and into the hands of highway workers throughout the United States was the Lead States Program. This program was set up to allow states already using SHRP products to provide technical guidance and support for other states so that they could then likewise adopt those innovations. State-level teams were organized for SHRP techniques and materials in areas such as concrete and structures; highway operations (including maintenance and safety); asphalt design; and pavement performance.

The field demonstration carried out by the Lead States team at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds in April 1999 was focused on the final of those four categories. Less than two weeks before that demonstration, the team held a similar event at an exposition in Ames, Iowa. Nearly 900 individuals from the Iowa Department of Transportation, local government agencies within the Hawkeye State, and other state departments of transportation showed up to learn about innovations for pavement maintenance. These innovations included SHRP-based methods for patching spalls and potholes and sealing cracks and joints. As noted by Lead States team member and Iowa DOT employee John Selmer, this demonstration was centered around “meeting the needs of the equipment users.”

The subsequent demonstration in Boise was likewise focused on pavement maintenance, with attendees taking classes in the morning and then going out into a field in the afternoon. Clayton Sullivan, an employee of the Idaho Transportation and also a member of a Lead States team, said that those in attendance were encouraged “to consider alternatives to standard seal coats and chip coats, such as slurry seals and microseals.” Other products demonstrated that afternoon included a polymer for concrete pavement repair and a treatment for sealing cracks in asphalt pavement. Sullivan explained, “People tend not to seal cracks correctly, and we demonstrated to them how to do it.”

This demonstration (just like the previous one in Iowa) also featured velocity-fill pothole patchers, a type of device that rapidly propels aggregate and asphalt via a hose into a pothole to compress patches without any need for a compactor. (The above photo depicts the use of a velocity-fill pothole patcher at the demonstration in Boise.) Two weeks after the event in Idaho, yet another Lead States field demonstration of pavement maintenance products took place in the community of Concordville in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Photo Credit: Federal Highway Administration

For more information on demonstrations of SHRP pavement performance techniques, please check out

Additional information on the products of the original SHRP is available at


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