SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2003

The Road to Smooth Pavements in Tennessee


Pavement smoothness directly affects the dynamics of moving vehicles, impacting the rate of deterioration of the pavement and the operation and safety of vehicles and occupants. Consequently, the FHWA and many state transportation agencies have taken measures to address pavement smoothness immediately following construction. The significance of smoothness is evidenced by the preliminary recommendations for the adoption of the International Roughness Index (IRI) in the forthcoming AASHTO 2002 Pavement Design Guide.

The State of Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) adopted the Mays meter for the measurement of HMA pavement smoothness in the early 1980s. At that time, Mays meter measurements of 55 to 65 inches per mile (868 to 1026 mm per km) were not uncommon on pavements throughout the state. Through the implementation of increasingly stringent, incentive-based specifications, annual Smooth Pavement Awards for top-performing contractors, and advances in paving equipment, Mays meter measurements as low as 10 inches per mile (158 mm per km) are quite common today.

This paper documents the measures taken in Tennessee over the past 20 years to improve pavement smoothness.

Author Information

Jackson, NM
University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Jubran, A
Office of Materials and Research, Forest Park, GA
Hill, RE
Renfro Construction Company, Inc., Knoxville, TN
Head, GD
Bureau of Operations, Nashville, TN
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Developed by Committee: D04
Pages: 58–67
DOI: 10.1520/STP10650S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5481-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3460-7