Cracked Highways: UTA Prof has System to Fix ‘Em

Sahadat Hossain's team has a system using recycled plastic pins that can repair highways and reduce cost.


Sahadat Hossain

We’ve all seen them, cracked pavement on highways that make unsightly and hard to drive on.

A civil engineering professor at the University of Texas at Arlington has received a $1.2 million contract from the Texas Department of Transportation to implement a system that would improve the sub-base repair of roadways, reducing cracking and improving maintenance in the process.

Sahadat Hossain’s team also would use recycled plastic pins to stabilize slopes in and around TxDOT’s Dallas District, UTA said in a release.

“Water is an enemy of roads.”
Sahadat Hossain

“We need to reduce greatly or eliminate the amount of moisture a road base soil takes in. Water is an enemy of roads. Therefore, we are adding a modified moisture barrier to stop or reduce moisture intrusion or variation into the pavement sub-base,” Hossain said in the release. “We also want to add the recycled plastic pins to soil bases and retaining walls. We can achieve the same positive impact with the pins in these new areas.”

His team has successfully used the plastic pins before. In 2013, he used them to shore up slopes on U.S. 287, State Highway 183, and I-35.

Because of the composition of the soil in Texas, and the extreme differences in temperature and moisture, shifting can occur in whatever sits on top of that soil, the release said.

“Shifting soil is something we must deal with in Texas,” said Boon Thian, TxDOT Dallas District’s pavement engineer. “Dr. Hossain’s work with these recycled plastic pins has been successful on highway slopes in North Texas. We want to see how it works for foundation soil underneath roads and earth retaining walls that flank highways.”

“Shifting soil is something we must deal with in Texas.”
Boon Tian

Use of the recycle plastic pins could reduce the cost of slope stabilization and repair by more than 50 percent, the release said.

That’s important.

According to Strong Towns organization, the state of Texas believes it needs $370 billion in transportation expenditures over the next 20 years.

In 2014, voters passed Proposition 1, which will take $1.7 billion a year from the state’s rainy day funds to be applied to highway funding.

Similarly in 2015, Texas voters passed Proposition 7, which dedicates a portion of the statewide sales tax, as well as all revenue from motor vehicle sales tax strictly to highways.

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