Texas highway construction employers know that a constant flow of individuals is needed to sustain the industry’s workforce and keep roads and highways safe. To ensure the steady flow of skilled workers in the construction workforce, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) developed the ConnectU2Jobs program which connects justice-involved individuals with employers and opportunities not otherwise available.
Agencies invest a significant portion of highway infrastructure dollars on pavement overlays. To maximize this investment, state and local agencies can utilize targeted overlay pavement solutions (TOPS), an Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative, to enhance pavement performance, lessen traffic impact, and ensure safer, long-lasting roadways. TxDOT has successfully used crack attenuating mixture (CAM) interlayers, a TOPS, on continuously reinforced concrete pavements (CRCP) and asphalt surfaces to reduce maintenance costs and extend the lifespans of Texas roads.
ConnectU2Jobs: Creating Careers through Strategic Partnership
To meet the need for a skilled highway construction workforce, TxDOT developed the ConnectU2Jobs program, a High Construction Workforce Partnership pilot program (HCWP). An EDC initiative, HCWPs are meant to increase the capacity and capabilities of the highway construction workforce. The partnership consisted of TxDOT, FHWA, the Texas Workforce Commission and other transportation organizations and contractor associations.
The ConnectU2Jobs (CU2J) pilot program began in September 2021 and connected the first class of 10 youthful offenders to life skills coaching, job training and job placement. The individuals in the program received classroom instruction, hands-on training and were given the opportunity to earn wages through paid internships by potential employers. The program’s goal is for all participants to graduate into employment and for these individuals to create a life-long career in the highway construction industry. According to TxDOT, “CU2J is the first step in creating a sustainable pipeline of skilled workforce for the transportation industry which is critical to maintain safe roads in Texas.”
To learn more about TxDot’s ConnectU2Jobs program, click here.
TxDOT’s Expertise in Crack Attenuating Mixtures (CAM)
TxDOT’s first overlay project using CAM interlayers was utilized on a large stretch of Interstate 69 in 2014. The solution was designed to support the estimated 300,000 vehicles that travel on the highway each day. On the original pavement, cracks were spaced approximately 10 to 20 feet apart, negatively impacting road performance and driving conditions.
To solve this problem, the District of Houston collaborated with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to design a CAM interlayer as a fine-graded overlay mixture course. CAM interlayers are shown to reduce the number of reflective cracks on the road and slow the rate of reflective cracking without jeopardizing rutting resistance. Before placing the CAM interlayer, a seal coat layer was placed over the original continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) to seal the surface and maximize the CAM’s performance.
Through the repeated use of this targeted overlay solution, the agency has contributed to the industry’s knowledge of this innovation. TxDOT reported that CAM interlay performance is determined by selecting the appropriate surface mixture to complement the CAM. According to TxDOT, CAMs do not perform well with dense-graded mixes. Moreover, skipping the CAM interlay can cause cracks to appear on the surface.
To learn more about TxDOT’s use of CAM, click here.