Transportation bill sends $10 million to ISU-based concrete technology center

AMES, Iowa -- A $10 million federal appropriation to an Iowa State University-based concrete technology center will help engineers from coast to coast develop pavements that last longer and need less maintenance.

That means better roads and fewer construction delays for American drivers.

President Bush signed the $286.4 billion federal transportation bill on Aug. 10. The bill sends $10 million over five years to the Center for Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Technology. The money will be used to support research projects and to leverage additional research funding from the pavement industry and state transportation departments.

Tom Cackler, the director of the concrete technology center, said the money will be spent according to a recently developed national research plan. The center led efforts by the federal government, state agencies and the pavement industry to write the plan.

The plan calls for about $250 million of research over the next 10 years. It says research goals include finding better ways to design concrete mixes, improving the restoration and preservation of pavement, developing techniques to monitor concrete quality during construction and producing safer, quieter and smoother pavement.

"We're working in a very collaborative way with industry and with research funders to be sure the work we do advances an agenda of national significance," Cackler said. "The taxpayers will get a real focused effort to be sure that our projects are of a national level."

Center leaders are also working to transform the center into the National Concrete Pavement Technology Center. Cackler said the center should have its new name and more national focus by the end of the year.

The current center was established in 2000 as a joint project of Iowa State, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Concrete Paving Association. Center researchers have worked on more than 30 projects supported by more than $8.5 million from federal, state and industry sources.