Competition and Its Role in Pavement Type Selection in the US

Paper by WATHNE DAVENPORT from ISCR 11th 2010 Seville Spain

Today, less than 15% of the National Highway System in the United States is comprised of concrete pavement (FHWA, 2007). However, in 1956, at the beginning of the interstate era, the vast majority of primary US routes were concrete roads. Why this significant change in pavement type selected? This paper explores one of the main dynamics behind this significant change, with an emphasis on U.S. pavement type selection policies, including their genesis, their purpose, and the role competition can play in this process. The paper concludes with suggestions on how to move forward, taking full advantage of the benefits that healthy competition between paving industries can provide, including spurring innovation (making both pavement types better) and maximizing economic value to the owner. In fact, these significant positive outcomes can be realized, if the current federal policy on pavement type selection as written is simply understood and adhered to. Accomplishing this is especially critical in our current situation of continually dwindling infrastructure resources and ongoing increases in construction costs.

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