Most people know that TRB stands for Transportation Research Board, a unit of the National Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Engineering. While a United States-based agency, it has become the premiere location for technical information exchange and publication about transportation around the world.

Transportation Research BoardTRB was founded about 90 years ago as the Highway Research Board (HRB) by materials and pavement engineers in state highway departments across the country. Its original purpose was primarily to share technical information on materials and methods for building better highways. Such information was difficult to come by and there was no easy way for state highway departments to exchange that information. Since January was a slow time for highway construction, January became the month in which the HRB annual meeting was held in Washington DC. HRB grew over the years to cover all aspects of the highways and later was expanded to cover all modes of transportation, and thus changed its name to the current TRB, Transportation Research Board.

Not remembered by many is that TRB also served as the operating agencies for the three great road tests conducted during the 20th Century to learn how load effected pavement thickness and pavement materials:

  1. The Maryland Road Test – Road Test MD-1 – 1950 Concrete Pavement Study
  2. WASHO Road Test (Western Association of State Highway Officials) 1953-54 – Asphalt Pavements
  3. AASHO Road Test (American Association of State Highway Officials) – 1957-1961 –included all pavement types, and the results of which still provide the best basis for pavement design worldwide, particularly the effect of load.

Also a little known fact, after the completion of the AASHO Road Test, funds were derived from the sale of 100 road test vehicles which provided the funding to start the NCHRP (National Cooperative Highway Research Program) under the leadership of Bill Carey, the Director of TRB and Dr. Paul Irick, the Chief Analyst at the Road Test and later Associate Director of TRB. NCHRP is one of the premiere road transportation research systems in the world.

TRB also provided the original emphasis for pavement management under the leadership of AgileAssets’ Dr. Ronald Hudson, a founder of TRDI, the precursor company to AgileAssets; Fred Finn and Dr. Ralph Haas. They created the first Pavement Management System Committee in TRB in the 1970s and the concept became so clearly understood that the entire pavement design section was changed to become the Pavement Management Section in about 1980. This team also conducted the research for NCHRP which developed the original PMS concept.

Each year AgileAssets sends a team to Washington D.C. to present and publish a variety of management system papers. If you plan to attend TRB 2016 next week, stop by booth 817 to visit with AgileAssets executives and subject matter experts. We look forward to seeing you there.

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