Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

K. Wayne Lee

Abstract

One of our nation’s most valuable assets is our roads and bridges, and its ability to move people and goods. The prosperity of our nation is dependent on the quality of our infrastructure and system, which is directly dependent on the condition of our highways. State and federal departments of transportation realize the importance of Quality Assurance (QA). From experience they have learned that non-conforming material or construction practices can result in premature failure of highway components. Major attention and resources have been devoted to the development of QA programs to address this concern.

State Highway Agency’s (SHA) across America are faced with the challenge of addressing a deteriorating infrastructure system under constrained financial budgets, reduction in staffing levels, increasing public demand for better and faster construction of projects and the public scrutiny of how State funds are spent. Demands on state work forces have never been greater. With limited resources and ever-increasing demands for services, SHA’s are implementing new technologies and innovations for the purpose of improving and optimizing their QA programs under existing conditions and available resources. The objective of the dissertation is to provide SHA’s with recommendations for the development of an effective, efficient and sustainable QA program.

To achieve the project objective a comprehensive literature review was conducted, with a focus on the ingredients in which SHA’s differ most, Quality Control (QC) and Acceptance. The purpose of the literature review was to determine the state of practice of SHA’s QC and Acceptance practices and policies. An evaluation into the use of Contractor Performed Quality Control (CPQC) test results to supplement agency Acceptance testing was performed. A detailed investigation was conducted on the use of consultant engineering testing services to supplement agency QA staffing. The cost effectiveness was evaluated through a cost analysis of RIDOT in-house acceptance testing versus consultant engineering testing services.

The findings indicate that the evolution of QA programs which started back in the 1960’s is still very much ongoing today. The result is a large spectrum of QA programs, resulting in QA programs which differ significantly from one state agency to another. The area where QA programs differ most is in the QC and Acceptance arena. How SHA’s have delegated QC roles and responsibilities to the contractor significantly impact the overall efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of a QA program. QC policies and requirements, including a QC plan requirement, should be consistently implemented, monitored and enforced on each and every project that a SHA puts out for bid. The contractor’s QC role and responsibilities cannot begin and end at the plant. It was found that the use of CPQC is essential to a successful QA program.

The use of CPQC test results to supplement agency Acceptance testing will reduce the number of test that an agency must perform. The use of consultant engineering testing services to supplement agency QA staffing will allow SHA’s to meet peak workload demands more cost effectively. The recommendations derived from this dissertation can help SHA’s improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of its QA program.

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