The newest pavement the state transportation department is trying is designed to provide better traction on sharp curves and in bad weather. It’s testing the High Friction Surface Treatment in four places, two near headquarters in Jefferson City and two somewhere not yet specified on Interstate 44. A federal grant is paying part of the costs of the tests. Missouri is one of thirteen states getting grants for innovative highway and bridge projects.
Research Engineer Jennifer Harper says the treatment has been used in a couple of other states, the closest being Kentucky. “They put down some type of binder…and what’s really special is the aggregate itself. It’s very strong and and has very good friction properties,” she says. Harper says other states that have tried it report much-improved traction on curves. The texture of the covering will improve traction during rain and snow, too. Harper says the aggregate will stick up and ice and snow will melt faster on it when salt is applied.
But it’s expensive. The department is paying more than $84,000 to put down a few hundred yards of the surface. She says the cost of the material makes it impossible to install in widespread areas. It would be put in places with an accident history or where the department can’t afford to put in a new intersection, because it will help motorists stop.