The Superpave (SUperior PERforming Asphalt PAVEments) system was developed to give highway engineers and contractors the tools they need to design asphalt pavements that will perform better under extremes of temperature and heavy traffic loads.
The Superpave system was developed by the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). The asphalt research program had three objectives: to investigate why some pavements perform well, while others do not; to develop tests and specifications for materials that will outperform and outlast the pavements being constructed under earlier mix designs; and to work with highway agencies and industry to have the new specifications put to use.
After five years of intensive research and testing, SHRP introduced the Superpave system in 1992. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) then assumed responsibility for further development and validation of the Superpave specifications and test procedures and initiated a national program to encourage the adoption of the Superpave system.
Asphalt Pavements account for more than 90 percent of all paved highways in the United States, and annual expenditures for asphalt pavements top $10 billion. If asphalt pavements can be designed to last longer, we stand to reap substantial benefits.
The Superpave system primarily addresses two pavement distresses: permanent deformation, which results from inadequate shear strength in the asphalt mix; and low temperature cracking, which is generated when an asphalt pavement shrinks and the tensile stress exceeds the tensile strength.
The Superpave system consists of an asphalt binder specification and a volumetric mix design and analysis system.
Use of Superpave to design asphalt mixtures is now commonplace throughout the North Central region and in most other parts of the USA. The NCSC is continuing to work with its agency, industry and academic partners to further improve the performance of asphalt pavements.