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Drivers and Researchers Share the Road

By Dave Jones on September 12, 2016 in University

Quick Summary

  • On the surface, a smoother ride on Brooks and Levee roads
  • Inside the pavement, an experiment on strengthening strategies
  • TAPS and pavement researchers are partnering on other projects, too

Updated 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12: Construction has been delayed, and is now scheduled to begin Sept. 19 and conclude a week later, Sept. 26.


Pavement researchers are literally building an experiment into a road construction project west of Highway 113, and, in the process, laying down a mile of new surface on two campus roads that badly need it.

“We’re putting 36 different test sections in the pavement on Brooks Road and Levee Road, but you won’t even be able to tell,” said David Jones, associate director of the UC Pavement Research Center in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Drivers are sure to notice the smoother ride, however. And that’s the part that makes Cliff Contreras especially happy, as the director of UC Davis Transportation Services, or TAPS.

He credited a “valuable partnership with researchers whose expertise is greatly assisting the campus with its pavement maintenance program for roads, paths, parking facilities and the airport,” Contreras said.

For example, in regard to this summer’s resurfacing work on La Rue Road and Hutchison Drive: “After consulting with our researchers, we tightened our contract specifications to get better roads that will last a lot longer,” Contreras said.

The Brooks-Levee road project represents the first formal relationship between Transportation Services and the pavement research team. For the experiment, Jones and his team have engineered a number of strengthening strategies to be built into the pavement.

“We chose these two campus roads because they have very light traffic, which will allow us to safely take measurements over the next two years and beyond.”

Jones described Brooks and Levee roads as being in poor condition but not likely to be upgraded anytime soon without the research project, due to limited funding. So, this experiment is a win-win for UC Davis: “The campus gets a new road for almost free, and we get valuable research data,” he said.

Jones and his team also have forged partnerships with the construction and cement industries for this project. “Our work will feed into research we are doing for Caltrans,” he said.

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