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Temperature can affect pavement performance. Most drivers have driven on roads with blowups, buckling, or rutting of pavements. These pavement distresses may necessitate emergency repairs or require State highway agencies to issue advisories cautioning drivers.

Data from the Federal Highway Administration’s Long-Term Pavement Performance program show that 36 percent of the total damage to flexible pavements and 24 percent of the total damage to rigid pavements studied is caused by environmental factors.

Blowups, buckling, and rutting are just a few ways that weather and climate impact pavement structural and functional performance. Pavements are designed based on typical historic climatic conditions, reflecting local temperature ranges and precipitation levels. However, warming trends, changing precipitation patterns, and changes in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are all projected for the coming decades. As a result, the assumption that historic climatic conditions are a good proxy for future environmental conditions may no longer hold true, threatening pavement performance, road users’ safety, and investments in transportation infrastructure.

To mitigate this threat, FHWA has created a methodology to assess the vulnerability of various transportation assets to changing temperatures and precipitation patterns, and identified some best practices to designing pavements for these changing conditions.

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