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Sustainable Pavements for EU New Member States

The aim of the project is to develop appropriate tools and procedures for the rapid rehabilitation of road pavements using materials that would:

Tags: Road
  • behave satisfactorily in a typical climate
  • have an acceptable environmental impact
  • be easy to incorporate within existing technologies
  • be cost-effective and easy to maintain.


The standard of road infrastructure differs throughout the European Union Member States. In general, the means of transportation are of a lower standard in the new Member States, but the present volume of heavy road transport requires a sustainable road infrastructure immediately.

There is a constant need for new resistant pavement materials that should comply with EU regulations. Due to the priority of motorway construction, the standard of maintenance of other roads has been lowered, resulting in an increased need for effective road maintenance and improvement over the years to come. The materials and technologies now used in the new Member States differ from those adopted in common practice in the EU-15.

SPENS will focus on developing procedures for producing and implementing improved materials for road construction, taking into account the local tradition, the availability of materials and construction techniques, as well as the specifics of roads that have already been constructed.

The research work will concentrate on the assessment of existing road conditions and maintenance planning, on pavement renewal and the upgrading of roads, and on the environmental impacts of roads.


The overall objective of the SPENS project is to generate knowledge to enable a more rapid rise in the standard of the road infrastructure, by developing appropriate tools and procedures for the long-lasting and more cost-effective improvement of roads.

Efficient and economic rehabilitation of the existing road network can be attained if reliable and scientifically based information is available on both present pavement conditions and current actions about pavements. A new systematic decision-making methodology about pavement rehabilitation and upgrading will contribute to sustainable surface transport.

The proper use of new techniques, such as the reinforcing of pavements, can bring economical and ecological benefits. Guidelines will indicate the best practice on how to use these methods and materials.

The development of new techniques, which allow for the incorporation of recycled waste materials of different origins into building materials for roads, will contribute to savings in natural raw material resources.

An uneven and rough road surface gives rise to higher fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, costs for vehicle wear and road traffic noise. The research will contribute towards the implementation of pavement types with high durability. Instructions for the selection of pavement types with low noise emissions can reduce the cost for noise abatement measures, which are a growing cost factor in the construction of new roads.

Example of an under-designed pavement
Example of an under-designed pavement

Description of work

The research work will be organised into four technical work packages, and will address the specific problems of the new Member States.

Since financial resources for road maintenance and rehabilitation are very limited, sophisticated pavement management systems can provide results upon which long-term optimum decisions can be made. The research of one work package will focus on techniques for gathering the proper input parameters and the development of a systematic methodology analysis of the deterioration caused by traffic.

The research work outlined in the work package ‘Improvement of pavement structures’ will show the potential of new techniques for the improvement of new and existing flexible road pavements. For example, the efficiency of different kinds of reinforcement for road widening and rehabilitation will be established, and a practical model for the optimisation of an asphalt mixture design will be tested. Within this work package the benefits and limits of waste and by-product materials, including recycled materials, for road construction will be studied.

Evaluation of materials and pavement layers appropriate for road upgrading will be analysed in a separate work package, which will be focused on modified bitumen as asphalt binders, high modulus asphalt mixtures, and their actual field performance. Laboratory work will be concerned with a number of mixtures, the most promising of which will be tested in the field, taking into account the specific climate and traffic loads.

The work package ‘Assessment of the impact of roads on the environment’ will focus on the characterisation of different types of road pavements with regard to environmental features and traffic noise emission, taking into account the typical compositions and pavements used in the new Member States.

The research work will gain from clustering with other on-going research projects, but will be oriented towards implementation, and will focus on the issues which are the most important for end-users such as road administrations and contractors.


Sustainable road infrastructure improves mobility, has an important economic effect and also improves quality of life.

The project aims to develop new construction concepts for sustainable and cost-effective road surfaces through the use of materials and technologies commonly available in the new Member States, paying special attention to environmental impacts.

SPENS will produce publicly available practical guidelines for the topics addressed within the research. An extensive effort will be made to ensure the wide and rapid dissemination of outcomes to the key stakeholders and for the exploitation of the results, especially in the new Member States. A project brochure and a website, as well as a multi-lingual web platform within the CERTAIN coordination action, will be prepared in order to bring the results closer to end-users.

Recording of surface and road parameters
Recording of surface and road parameters