In its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of D+. Not good. The sector report card on American roads faired even worse, earning a D, while TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., says 32% of major urban American roads had pavement in substandard condition in 2014. In its sector report on bridges, ASCE gives a better grade, a C+, but also notes 9.1% of American bridges are structurally deficient as of 2016. As of this writing, the White House and U.S. Congress are working on an infrastructure bill or bills after President Donald Trump released an infrastructure proposal in February. What that infrastructure bill or those bills will encompass, and when or if legislation will pass Congress, however, remain uncertain.
Amid the intense national debate on infrastructure, Geosynthetics magazine decided to focus this issue on geosynthetics used in roads and bridges. As is widely known in our industry and increasingly known among infrastructure decision makers outside of the geosynthetics world, geosynthetic materials increase longevity, decrease construction time, and save money on road and bridge projects. If government entities wish to get things done quickly on roads and bridges after funding is worked out, geosynthetics need to be part of the package.
In the June issue, Brian M. Collins and Eli Cuelho examine several highway patching applications with geogrids; Murad Abu-Farsakh, Milad Saghebar, Allam Ardah and Qiming Ching discuss the monitoring of the first geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system (GRS–IBS) in Louisiana; and Amaneh E. Kenarsari and Stanley J. Vitton investigate the failure of a geotextile slope along a highway access road in northern Michigan. In addition, Jennifer Nicks updates readers on the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Geosynthetics; Jonathan Curry reports on the Geosynthetic Materials Association’s second meeting with the White House to discuss geosynthetics and infrastructure; Robert M. Koerner considers the estimation of live loads in mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) slopes; and columns highlight a Wisconsin Department of Transportation study on geotextile puncture test methods, an 80-hour Rhode Island Department of Transportation GRS–IBS project and an award for geogrid research for use in highways.
The conversation on the efficiencies of geosynthetics for roads and bridges will continue in future issues of this magazine, in Congress, in state capitols, at conferences and at geosynthetic companies. Inroads, ahem, are being made.