Defining Ride Quality

[The following content was submitted by RPUG.og user Captain Ride on 18 December 2009.]

One of the first topics for discussion should be to identify what things influence ride quality, the consequences for poor ride quality, where improvement in ride quality are needed and what needs to be done to make improvements.

Here is a short list of things I can think of. Please share your views.

Things that Influence ride quality?

Roadway Design – If design grades of a roadway were analyzed in ProVAL would it provide some insight into features in a design affect the ride quality capable of being produced?

Paving Process – What things in the paving process (HMA and PCC) influence ride quality and how are contractors encouraged to correct or improve their process?

Material Consistency – What variations in material consistency influence ride quality and and how can they be measured and controlled?

Pavement Type – What properties of the pavement material could influence ride quality and/or early deterioration of ride quality in the future and what can be done to control or prevent that influence? (i.e. segregation, rutting, cracking, shrinking, warping, curling, etc.)

What else?

Consequences of Poor Ride Quality?

Safety – What safety issues could result from poor ride quality for travelers and plowing and maintenance crews?

Taxpayer Dissatisfaction – What is the perception of the people that are paying for the roads?

Inefficiency – How does ride quality influence fuel consumption?

Early Distress – How can poor ride quality influence roadway deterioration?

Are there more?

Where are Improvements Needed?

Where are the Problems?

Pavement Type – Do different paving material or pavement designs influence ride quality?

Bridge Decks/Approaches – What impacts do bridges have on overall ride quality of a roadway?

Sub grade Soil types – Are there issues with certain soil types that affect ride quality or pavement durability?

Material or Mix Design – Are there problems with the materials used or in the design of the mix?

More Problems?

What needs to be done?

Pavement – What materials are needed, what pavement type should be used and what is required in the design?

Ride Quality Measurement – How is ride quality measured and are measurements consistent and reliable?

Bonus and/or Penalties – What incentives or disincentives should be considered and what ride quality levels are appropriate?

Corrective Actions – At what point are corrections necessary and how will they be made?

Expense – How much will a quality ride cost and is it worth it?

Anything else?

As many States and countries struggle with the ride quality issue it is important to work together to establish guidelines and share information. I think RPUG is and will continue to be a leader in this effort. Share your thoughts and help with the effort.


[The following content was submitted by user Richard Hamilton on 8 January 2010.]

Well Captain Ride you certainly bring up some of the most important issues facing the RPUG community and I applaud you for this effort and this forum to share information and ideas.

As I look through your list of topic ideas I’m having a bit of a deja vu moment; its nearly a top twenty list of questions I’ve had paving superintendents ask me the first time we ride their job together in my profiler. I think answering these questions in a succinct, easy-to-understand manner is hugely important to improving ride quality for many reasons, not the least of which is that many in the road construction industry (agency and contractor folks alike) have approached this topic with a great degree of skepticism, for whatever reason, and I think as practitioners its our job to clear up a lot of the “smoke and mirrors” attitude that’s out there. In other words, I think we really need to be as up-front as possible regarding our means and methods for collecting data, what our expectations are, and what the consequences will be for the quality (or lack thereof) that’s ultimately achieved.

I think we also need to have as much transparency as possible in the profiler certification/validation/data collection and analysis areas as well to ensure fairness. It’s not uncommon for me to hear stories of what I’ll call “drive by profiling” when the owner’s testing is done without advance notification, without any chance of witnessing the testing by the contractor, and without any data shared with the exception of the final report that includes a big negative pay adjustment. This situation becomes even more untenable when the owner refuses to recognize independently obtained data from another profiler because the owner does not have, or chooses not to utilize, a validation process. Forced to accept a final determination from a phantom device he never sees, using a measurement he doesn’t fully understand, without any chance of recourse, how anxious will our contractor partner be to bid the next ride quality job?

Of course, by promoting the sharing of data, and the continued use of ProVal (I always put a copy of the installer on the data disk I give to our clients) we can help to lift the veil of mystery and to educate the paving community on how this stuff all works, and how it can actually make a difference (for the better) in the end-product, which is really what this should all be about.