UTA team working to predict lifespan of Texas roads

Ali Abolmaali

A University of Texas at Arlington civil engineering professor is leading a $2.8 million Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) project that will scan pavements on Texas roads to determine their condition and remaining service life.

Ali Abolmaali, chair of the Civil Engineering Department and the Tseng Huang Endowed Professor, said he and his team will evaluate more than 3,500 lane miles through TxDOT.

“We’ll go out and take core samples of the old and new roads where structural challenges are pinpointed,” he said. “Of course, we’ll patch the holes where we take the core samples as the project work is done.”

Abolmaali said the team will use tools such as a scanning electron microscope, a Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and an energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to determine the material properties of each core sample through its chemical composition.

Using finite element modeling and artificial intelligence, the team will predict the service life of the pavements. The results of this project ultimately will assist with optimized resource allocation for infrastructure repair and rehabilitation.

“The artificial intelligence-based system will learn as we go from the massive amounts of data the team collects,” Abolmaali said. “It’s an artificial intelligence-based and machine-learning approach. Ultimately, we’re trying to predict how much life is left in a road.”

The co-principal investigators on the project are Vistasp Karbhari, civil engineering professor, and Maria Konsta-Gdoutos, civil engineering professor and associate director for the Center for Advanced Construction Materials.

TxDOT project manager Danny Henderson noted the valuable role of research and partnerships with UTA in meeting the region’s transportation needs, now and into the future.

“We’re glad to be collaborating with UT Arlington on innovative opportunities to address important issues in transportation,” Henderson said.

Peter Crouch, dean of the College of Engineering, said Abolmaali’s work on infrastructure is vital to a thriving society.

“The roadmap provided through this team’s research can help ensure the preservation of important transportation assets,” Crouch said. “This work is especially crucial given our state’s explosive growth and limited resources to deliver infrastructure.”

Other research professors and postdoctoral fellows on the project are Panagiotis Danoglidis, Arash Emami and Maziar Mahdavi.

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