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CTIS Awarded Over $1 Million for TxDoT Projects

Undergraduate student Lourdes Pacheco performs a test used to characterize the materials and specimen properties in CTISs
Undergraduate student Lourdes Pacheco
performs a test used to characterize the materials
and specimen properties in CTIS
The Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CTIS) housed in the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso has been awarded more than $1 million for four projects funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.

For the first project, CTIS was asked to develop an expert system to lead pavement designers to economical methods to eliminate frequently damaged pavement at bus stops and intersections where trucks and buses are driving and suddenly stop.

“Deeply rutted pavements at intersections or bus stops with stop and go traffic are damaging to cars and may be a safety hazard,” said Dr. Soheil Nazarian, Civil Engineering Professor and Director of CTIS. “We are looking at how to rebuild these intersections differently than the rest of the pavement so that they last a long time. It’s a bit more expensive but the need to repave the streets would be eliminated and it’s not so dangerous.”

TxDoT has also asked CTIS researchers to identify ways to improve the prediction of corrosion of metallic wall reinforcements used in the retaining walls along highways. The metal piece that holds the retaining walls vertically can corrode over time as a result of rain water getting into the soil.

According to Nazarian, this could cause the metal strips to break and the wall to fall. In this multidisciplinary research project, UTEP experts in geochemistry, metallurgy and civil engineering are examining the chemical constituents of the backfill soils, the properties of the metal and methods of construction to minimize this problem.

“If the soil is not compatible with the metal then it will simply not be used,” said Nazarian. “This is excellent research because we have geologists, metallurgist and civil engineers working together to solve a complex problem.”

CTIS researchers are also working on two projects to promote the use of marginal and recycled materials in the construction of roads. In one project, improved methods for designing and constructing of road bases with lower quality and cheaper marginal materials are being investigated by treating them with asphalt.

In the other project, the nontraditional ways of using recycled asphalt in construction of roads is being explored.

“These two projects will not only reduce the cost of road construction, but they also have positive environmental impact since they promote reuse of materials that otherwise had to be land-filled,” said Nazarian.

The focus of the Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems is to coordinate basic and applied research related to the nation’s transportation infrastructure at UTEP. CTIS employs more than 50 engineering students who work on a variety of transportation-related research projects.