Publication Detail

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Strategic Management of Highway Pavement Roughness



Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Suggested Citation:
Wang, Ting, John T. Harvey, Alissa Kendall (2014) Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Strategic Management of Highway Pavement Roughness. Environmental Research Letters 9 (3)

On-road vehicle use is responsible for about a quarter of US annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Changes in vehicles, travel behavior and fuel are likely required to meet long-term climate change mitigation goals, but may require a long time horizon to deploy. This research examines a near-term opportunity: management of pavement network roughness. Maintenance and rehabilitation treatments can make pavements smoother and reduce vehicle rolling resistance. However, these treatments require material production and equipment operation, thus requiring a life cycle perspective for benefits analysis. They must also be considered in terms of their cost-effectiveness in comparison with other alternatives for affecting climate change. This letter describes a life cycle approach to assess changes in total GHG (measured in CO2-e) emissions from strategic management of highway pavement roughness. Roughness values for triggering treatments are developed to minimize GHG considering both treatment and use phase vehicle emission. With optimal triggering for GHG minimization, annualized reductions on the California state highway network over a 10-year analysis period are calculated to be 0.82, 0.57 and 1.38 million metric tons compared with historical trigger values, recently implemented values and no strategic intervention (reactive maintenance), respectively. Abatement costs calculated using $/metric-ton CO2-e are higher than those reported for other transportation sector abatement measures, however, without considering all benefits associated with pavement smoothness, such as vehicle life and maintenance, or the time needed for deployment.