University of California Pavement Research Center

Combines innovative research and sound engineering to improve the sustainability of California’s pavements

The University of California Pavement Research Center (UCPRC) carries out leading-edge research on a wide range of pavement-related fields.

With facilities at both UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the UCPRC provides state-of-the-art knowledge, advice, and technology to practitioners, research community, and decision-makers that include Caltrans, FHWA, FAA, CalRecycle, CARB, and local governments, in the areas of:

  • Pavement design and modeling
  • Full-scale testing of pavements
  • Pavement materials
  • Life cycle analysis of pavements
Two students working on a computer

California’s law AB 32 mandates reductions in the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change. In its efforts to meet its mandate, Caltrans sponsored UCPRC research aimed at developing life-cycle assessment models that can help quantify GHG emissions from highway maintenance projects at the network and the project level.

ambient-environmental actions

Measuring and modeling the effects of the ambient-environment on concrete pavements constitutes a research priority of the UCPRC. The ambient-environmental actions produce changes in concrete temperature and/or pore water content and the subsequent hydrothermal deformation results in tensile stresses and loss of slab support while lessening the capacity of the contiguous slabs to work together to resist traffic loading. In dry climates, as in many California regions, these actions may be more detrimental to pavement performance than actual traffic.

bike with instrumentation

To identify pavement treatment surfaces that are more acceptable to California’s increasing number of bicyclists as well as safe for motorists, Caltrans turned to the UCPRC for research into roughness and surface textures that could satisfy both sets of road users.

recycled milling

UCPRC is serving California by investigating the potential effects of increasing the amounts of reclaimed asphalt pavement, rubberized asphalt binder, and asphalt from recycled roof shingles that can be used in reconstructed highway sections. This is part of a joint effort with Caltrans and CalRecycle to comply with state laws and improve pavement performance.

Heavy Vehicle Simulator

UCPRC performs accelerated pavement testing using the Heavy Vehicle Simulator for a range of purposes, including understanding pavement behavior/response under different loading and environmental conditions, evaluating new materials, designs, specifications, and construction standards, and validating/calibrating new designs and performance models.