2023 TRB Annual Meeting

Posted By: David Allain ACAF News,

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting is always a highlight of the year for professionals in the transportation industry, and this year's meeting was no exception. This year'a annual meeting was visited by 11,000+ individuals, with the program consisting of 4000 presentations spread out over more than 600 sessions, workshops, and meetings.

One of the most talked-about topics at the 2023 TRB Annual Meeting was the importance of lowering emissions in the production and life cycle of asphalt pavements. As the world becomes increasingly focused on reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change, it's clear that the transportation industry must play a significant role in these efforts. One of the most significant sources of emissions in transportation is from the construction and maintenance of roads, particularly from the production of asphalt.

The good news is that advancements in technology have made it possible to reduce emissions in the production of asphalt. Low emissions asphalt production methods, such as warm mix asphalt, use lower temperatures during production, which results in fewer emissions. New technologies such as the use of recycled materials and bio-based products can also reduce emissions in the production process. Additionally, seeming simple changes at the plant can have significant energy use reductions, such as covering aggregate stockpiles, reducing moisture contents and time needed for aggregate to dry in the burner.

However, it's not just about the production of asphalt, but also about the pavement's life cycle. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools can be used to evaluate the environmental impact of different technologies and materials throughout the entire life cycle of a pavement, from production to demolition. LCA tools can take into account the entire life cycle of a pavement, including the production of materials, construction, maintenance, and disposal, to provide a comprehensive view of the environmental impact of different options.

During the 2023 TRB Annual Meeting, many experts highlighted the importance of LCA in the decision-making process for paving projects. By using the LCA tool, we can make data-driven decisions that can help to reduce emissions and improve the overall sustainability of our transportation infrastructure.

Furthermore, the use of advanced modeling and simulation can also play a significant role in reducing emissions. These tools can help to predict the performance of pavements before they are built. This can help to minimize the need for full reconstruction and reduce the overall emissions associated with the maintenance of a pavement.

Overall, the 2023 TRB Annual Meeting was a great opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in low emissions asphalt production and how they can be used to improve the sustainability of our transportation infrastructure. By utilizing the tools and technologies available to us, we can work together to reduce emissions and create a more sustainable future for transportation. And not only reducing emissions, but also supporting innovation, recycling and the usage of alternative, sustainable materials for the construction of roads and pavements.

US Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took the stage at the 2023 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies to discuss the federal government’s plan to reach “net-zero” carbon emissions in the US transportation sector by 2050. The two secretaries focused on a recently released national public-private sector blueprint for transportation decarbonization developed by DOE, DOT, and other federal agencies. A big focus of that plan includes equitably improving mobility and building out a nationwide network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers, zero-emission fueling infrastructure, and zero-emission transit and school buses, among a host of other initiatives. Buttigieg also briefly addressed the news of the day, the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety system outage, which led to a temporary shutdown of US flights and travel delays for millions. Buttigieg stated that "safety is going to be our north star, as it always is."