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Evaluation of the Texas tier system for seal coat binder specification.
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  • NTL Classification:
    NTL-HIGHWAY/ROAD TRANSPORTATION-Pavement Management and Performance ; NTL-HIGHWAY/ROAD TRANSPORTATION-Construction and Maintenance ;
  • Abstract:
    The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) instituted a change in their seal coat binder specification in 2010 which allowed districts to select multiple binders within specified traffic levels or tiers for the purposes of allowing contractors to bid the work with the most economical binder available to them. Known as the tier system, it is estimated that this approach has saved TxDOT over $33 million in the 2.5 years that it has been used. While this savings is substantial, it was recognized that refinements to the tier system were needed to address specific performance problems. This research project was initiated to poll TxDOT district personnel, contractors, and chip seal binder suppliers to ascertain how the tier system was working, what modifications could be made to improve performance, and what other issues needed to be addressed. Although the tier system is generally working as intended, there are opportunities for improvement. These include an expanded education effort for all levels of TxDOT personnel involved in chip seal construction, changing traffic requirements to reflect cumulative and truck characteristics, keeping the tier system for district wide chip seal programs, updating the current chip seal manual, developing standards for pavement preparation ahead of sealing, allowing more flexibility for selecting binders for individual projects, developing generic chip seal binder specifications, removing aggregate requirements from the current tier system, initiate research into the development of a good winter binder, and initiate research into the development and application of seal coat test methods.
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