Assessment of an Incentive-Only Ride Specification for Asphalt Pavements

Report No: 16-R2

Published in 2015

About the report:

Smoothness specifications are applied by almost all state transportation agencies, including the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), to promote the overall quality and optimum ride quality of pavements. VDOT has a ride specification that provides a pay adjustment (either incentive or disincentive) depending on the smoothness of the final paved surface. VDOT’s ride specification also has a provision to waive the disincentive and apply the incentive part only to projects where project geometry, etc., is perceived to make it difficult for the contractor to achieve the desired ride. When applied, the waiver is intended to encourage the contractor to apply additional efforts to improve the ride for otherwise difficult projects.

In late 2011, VDOT’s executive leadership formed an Asphalt Quality Task Force to identify and recommend specific achievable measures to improve the quality of the asphalt paving in Virginia. The task force agreed to consider the proposal to make an incentive-only provision the default for projects that would otherwise not qualify for the regular ride specification application. This study documented and critically reviewed the pilot application of the incentive-only provision for rideability on selected asphalt resurfacing schedules for VDOT’s 2013 construction season. Several lane-miles of control sites were compared with the “incentive-only” sites to determine if the prospects of added incentives led contractors to alter their paving procedures in pursuit of a higher quality ride.

There was no statistically reliable distinction between the achieved quality of the incentive-only and control sites. Further, it was found that the originally proposed incentive-only provisions did not provide any meaningful benefit to VDOT or contractors. The study developed a revised incentive-only specification and further recommended that the proposed provision be applied to a wider range of projects in VDOT’s 2015 construction season.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Last updated: November 12, 2023

Alert Icon

Please note that this file is not ADA compliant. Choose one of below options: