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4 of the Most Interesting Things We Learned at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting

The 98th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting was held January 13-17 in Washington D.C.

The 98th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting was held January 13-17 in Washington D.C. The meeting included 5,000 presentations in nearly 800 sessions and workshops, many of which focused on the theme for the meeting: Transportation for a Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Future. Here are a few of our highlights from the program.


There is research into the effect of the tree canopy on the pavement life cycle.

During the Three-Minute Thesis Competition, graduate students presented their research within three minutes for workshop attendees from various research areas in transportation. One student presented a study funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation that investigated the varying impacts of tree canopy over the pavement in terms of pavement condition, safety, and maintenance. From 39 test sites, researchers collected and analyzed data on canopy coverage, pavement condition rating, surface moisture, and temperature.


The industry is embracing its role in supporting technology for transportation.

There was more discussion this year about smart pavements and how various technologies can be integrated into pavements, particularly in light of the proliferation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). There have been several smart pavement experimental projects in China, and a Smart Pavement Roadmap is currently being developed.

There is now some legitimate justification for putting technology into pavements, whether it’s for supporting CAV deployment, recharging electric vehicles, or improving safety. There is also now a justification for spending a little more on our pavements since they will do more than just carry traffic.

The industry is embracing its role in supporting the deployment of CAVs, electric vehicles, etc. Hopefully this will mean more investment by agencies and even private investment into Smart Pavement technologies.


Transportation is the link that connects us all.

As new tech is more rapidly transforming transportation, the world sees transportation as the link that connects us all even more than before.  There is a new excitement about transportation.  Now is the right time for the concrete and asphalt pavement industry to get ahead of all the buzz and show how pavement researchers can help lead the way.


Advancements in asphalt modeling could produce better pavements.

One workshop, Evaluations of Asphalt Mixture Mechanistic Properties from Binders and Mastic Properties, discussed how advancements made in asphalt modeling could potentially simplify performance prediction tests and produce better pavements. For the industry, this can lead to less maintenance and repairs required on pavements. For the public, this means drivers could experience less construction closures.


Here are the most interesting things we learned at the 2018 TRB Annual Meeting.