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Sustainable Pavements for European New Member States

Final Report Summary - SPENS (Sustainable Pavements for European New Member States)

The objective of this research project was to develop appropriate tools and procedures for the rapid and cost-effective rehabilitation and maintenance of roads. The overall objective was to search for materials and technologies for road pavement construction and rehabilitation that would behave satisfactorily, have an acceptable environmental impact and be cost-effective.

The standard of road infrastructure differs throughout the European Union Member States. In general, the means of transportation are of a lower standard in the new Member States, but the present volume of heavy road transport requires a sustainable road infrastructure immediately.

There is a constant need for new resistant pavement materials that should comply with EU regulations. Due to the priority of motorway construction, the standard of maintenance of other roads has been lowered, resulting in an increased need for effective road maintenance and improvement over the years to come. The materials and technologies now used in the new Member States differ from those adopted in common practice in the EU-15.

Since financial resources for road maintenance and rehabilitation are very limited, sophisticated pavement management systems can provide results upon which long-term optimum decisions can be made. The research of one work package focused on techniques for gathering the proper input parameters and the development of a systematic methodology analysis of the deterioration caused by traffic.

The research work outlined in the work package 'Improvement of pavement structures' shows the potential of new techniques for the improvement of new and existing flexible road pavements. For example, the efficiency of different kinds of reinforcement for road widening and rehabilitation was established, and a practical model for the optimisation of an asphalt mixture design was tested. Within this work package the benefits and limits of waste and by-product materials, including recycled materials, for road construction was studied.

Evaluation of materials and pavement layers appropriate for road upgrading was analysed in a separate work package, which focused on modified bitumen as asphalt binders, high modulus asphalt mixtures, and their actual field performance. Laboratory work was concerned with a number of mixtures, the most promising of which was tested in the field, taking into account the specific climate and traffic loads.

The work package 'Assessment of the impact of roads on the environment' focused on the characterisation of different types of road pavements with regard to environmental features and traffic noise emission, taking into account the typical compositions and pavements used in the new Member States. The research work gained from clustering with other on-going research projects, was oriented towards implementation, and focused on the issues which are the most important for end-users such as road administrations and contractors.

SPENS produced publicly available practical guidelines for the topics addressed within the research. An extensive effort was made to ensure the wide and rapid dissemination of outcomes to the key stakeholders and for the exploitation of the results, especially in the new Member States. A project brochure and a website, as well as a multi-lingual web platform within the CERTAIN coordination action, were prepared in order to bring the results closer to end-users.

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