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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: Feasibility of Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for Pavements, Utilities, and Bridges
Project Researcher: Kenneth Maser,
Project Manager: Dan Johnston
Research Period: 6/1/2005 - 8/31/2006
Cost: $0.00

Problem Statement:SDDOT has been keenly interested in the possibilities of employing ground penetrating radar as a routine tool for multiple purposes for several years. GPR has a variety of applications of interest, including:

  • Pavement surveys for layer thickness and base layer material properties

  • Bridge deck condition surveys for delamination and steel depth

  • Construction quality control, steel depth and alignment and utility location

  • Geotechnical applications

  • Although the technology offers significant promise of cost effective applications for pavements and bridges, there have been ongoing problems with implementation and misrepresentation of interpretation software capabilities and appropriate radar systems for various uses. The Department recently purchased a 1.0 Gigahertz ground-coupled GPR unit for use in evaluating steel location and depth for SD2004-07 Impact, Cause, and Remedies for Excessive Cracking in CRC Pavement. Although the unit only recently arrived, it is proving to be of considerable value though it does have limitations, as does any remote sensing, nondestructive system. Initial results highlight the need for caution when attempting to do everything with one system as the frequency of the radar antennae and the type of coupling used (air or ground) can make considerable differences in resolution and acquisition speed.

    Research is needed to assess the current state of GPR technology and available systems for different uses. Once this is accomplished, the proposed utilization of this technology by the Department can move forward in a rational way, if the research suggests the technology is ready for deployment. The research would also examine the suitability of different configurations for different applications, provide a cost-benefit analysis and make recommendations for purchase and deployment of one or more radar systems depending on results. The research would also clearly delineate the shortcomings of various systems and provide a realistic context for usage that would not try to obtain more from the technology than it is capable of or use it inappropriately.


    Research Objectives:
    1  Provide a comprehensive assessment of GPR technologies with regard to current and potential applications for transportation infrastructure.
    2  Develop a cost-benefit appraisal of the applicability and merit of acquiring GPR capabilities for routine applications as appropriate.
    3  Develop an implementation plan including costs and recommendations for equipment, applications, training, personnel requirements and maintenance.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Review current literature and GPR equipment specifications, including other state's experiences.
    2  Meet with the technical panel, present a preliminary technical brief on GPR applications for transportation and review project scope and work plan.
    3  Conduct interviews with appropriate SDDOT staff to acquire knowledge of current SDDOT procedures and operations and discuss potential application areas and demonstration projects for GPR, its capabilities and relevant information derived from its use
    4  Conduct a survey of other states and provinces utilizing GPR with an emphasis on uses, equipment, data processing requirements, strengths, weaknesses and levels of accuracy.
    5  Review proposed demonstrations involving at least one process-in-place AC recycle project, one bridge deck survey and one underground utility or geotechnical investigation and determine data requirements for analysis and verification.
    6  Conduct a demonstration of appropriate radar equipment and software on at least one process-in-place recycle base project. The effort should include an illustration of GPR suitability and feasibility for FWD and pavement management applications. (Not
    7  Conduct a demonstration of appropriate radar equipment and software on at least one bridge deck. The effort should include testing requirements for ground truth verification of bridge deck condition as well as a sampling plan. (Note: All equipment, s
    8  Conduct a demonstration of appropriate radar equipment and software on at least one utility or geotechnical investigation. (Note: All equipment, software and operation requirements are to be provided by the researchers, either directly, via rental or
    9  Perform a cost-benefit analysis of GPR technologies by application including equipment, software and personnel requirements as well as multi-application efficiencies.
    10  Develop a utilization and equipment plan for GPR applications including recommendations for equipment purchase, operation and phased development. Include alternative strategies and costs.
    11  Prepare a final report and executive summary of the research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
    12  Make an executive presentation to the SDDOT Research Review Board at the conclusion of the project.

    Documents Available:
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