- Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Amber Alert
Amber Alert - TEST
  • INDOT_roadmapWidget3
  • trafficwise_widget
  • report_concern_widget

Indiana Department of Transportation

INDOT > Current Programs > Innovative Programs > Innovative Use of Materials & Assets Innovative Use of Materials & Assets

INDOT is challenging traditional ways of thinking in transportation planning, materials and programs in favor of inventive ideas and innovative solutions. Efficiencies gained through this process are reinvested into capital programs and operations, thereby impacting every town, city, and county in the state.

Concrete Sealant Development

INDOT, Purdue University, the Indiana Soybean Alliance, and Irving Materials, Inc., teamed up to create and test a new biodegradable sealant for concrete. After six years of research, Purdue Agricultural Engineer Bernie Tao and Purdue Civil Engineer Jason Weiss developed a repellant that greatly reduces the ability of water and other compounds to penetrate concrete and cause cracking and chipping under winter freeze/thaw conditions. The sealant shows promise as an environmentally friendly alternative to similar products applied to concrete during road construction. Purdue’s research might have reached a dead end were it not for the support of INDOT, the Indiana Soybean Alliance, and Irving Materials Inc., which helped cover research expenses, additional technical expertise, and access to public roads. Today, the new sealant is being tested on U.S. 231 in Lafayette and on a highly traveled street in Fishers, Ind. The project is one example of how INDOT teams up with universities, researchers, organizations, and companies to support research to improve and protect Indiana’s roadways and transportation infrastructure.

Internally Cured Concrete

Purdue University and INDOT have teamed up to improve bridges in the state with a new "internally cured" high-performance concrete. The Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP), a partnership between INDOT and Purdue, worked with Purdue’s Pankow Materials Laboratory to create specifications for implementing the internally cured high-performance concrete. It will be used on four bridges in 2013. Laboratory testing indicates that internally cured high-performance concrete experiences substantially less cracking and concrete damage caused by deicing salt and, when properly designed, the service life of bridge decks can be greatly extended. Concrete is normally made by mixing Portland cement with water, sand and stone. In the curing or hardening process, water helps the concrete mixture gain strength by reacting with the cement. Traditionally, curing is promoted by adding water on top of the bridge deck surface. The new technology for internal curing provides additional water pockets inside the concrete, enhancing the reaction between the cement and water, which adds to strength and durability. The water pockets are formed by using small porous stones – or lightweight fine aggregate, as it is known in the industry – to replace some of the sand in the mixture. The internal curing process also allows engineers to reduce the amount of Portland cement used in the concrete by replacing a portion of it with supplementary materials, such as silica fume, fly ash and limestone. These supplements will reduce the waste stream, the need for raw materials and the carbon footprint of making concrete while improving its durability. Additional information about this innovation can be found at the JTRP website.

Propane Vehicles

INDOT is proceeding with an alternative fuels program in which 583 INDOT small and full-size pickup trucks and vans have already been converted to run on both propane and conventional gasoline. Launched in June 2011, the program reflects INDOT’s emphasis on innovative, creative, and fiscally responsible solutions, in this case converting a significant portion of its fleet to run on cleaner and less expensive alternative fuels. To support the new propane-powered vehicles, INDOT installed 115 propane fueling sites at its facilities across the state as part of the largest statewide alternative fuel network. The sites are situated so that most of Indiana is located within 30 miles of a fueling site. The sites also provide propane for INDOT forklifts, mowers and equipment that prepares hot mix asphalt for road repair. A $6.3 million federal Recovery Act grant through the Indiana Office of Energy Development and Greater Indiana Clean Cities funded conversion of 226 of the 583 vehicles involved in the program – as well as construction of the 115 propane fueling sites. INDOT’s confidence in the benefits of the program helped drive our subsequent decision to add another 357 propane fueled vehicles using INDOT funds. The vehicles and fueling infrastructure are now fully operational. INDOT estimates the propane vehicle program will reduce gasoline usage by more than 580,000 gallons per year – saving taxpayers an estimated $1.1 million annually.

Recycling & Reusing

INDOT is a national leader in its use of recycled materials for highway projects, an initiative overseen by INDOT’s Office of Materials Management. Asphalt roof shingles, steel slag, reclaimed asphalt pavement and recycled concrete are among the items that can be reused to save resources and cut costs. For example, asphalt mixtures that incorporate more than 40 percent recycled materials, including shingles, saved Indiana taxpayers nearly $9.5 million in FY 2010 — and kept those materials out of Indiana landfills. INDOT also used shredded tires to fill in embankments on three projects, which saved more than $3.2 million. INDOT follows guidelines issued by the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and INDOT also develops its own specifications and methods for ideas not covered by ASTM or AASHTO. These practices not only save taxpayer dollars, but mitigate environmental impacts for example, by not filling landfills.

Reusing Shredded Tires

IDEM and INDOT teamed up to save the state about $220,000 by using an alternative lightweight fill made mostly of shredded tires in road projects around the state. The latest project was completed recently in Kosciusko County on State Road 19. An alternative to other traditional fill types, approximately 30,000 passenger tires were shredded and mixed with approved sand. The tire shreds are supplied by ELK Distributors Inc. of Elkhart, a tire processor approved by IDEM. Improvements to the road consisted of removing the existing drainage structure and replacing it with a larger culvert. Usually road widening is performed by replacing the soft organic soil to its full depth. However, in this area peaty, wet and spongy soils are prevalent, making construction over these soils challenging. The alternative fill is a 60 percent mix of tire shred and 40 percent sand and constructed in 12-inch lifts, not the traditional six inch. This in effect reduced construction time by three to four days on the State Road 19 project. Mike Garcia, production supervisor in the Fort Wayne district teamed up with the INDOT offices of Geotechnical Engineering, Environmental Engineering and IDEM on this project. Going forward INDOT will continue to use shredded tires in its operations.

Further information about this innovation can be found at the Purdue University Website.

Wildflower Seeds

As part of its Hoosier Roadside Heritage program, INDOT produces its own wildflower and native grass seeds to spread along the shoulders of existing roadsides. The plants provide natural low-maintenance groundcover and wildlife habitat while beautifying Indiana roadways and reducing erosion. Indiana produces wildflower and grass seeds on INDOT property at three seed farms in the Winamac, Frankfort and Madison sub-districts. In addition, the Indiana Department of Corrections is developing a fourth seed farm production field at the Putnamville Correctional Facility. DOC inmates perform maintenance and labor at all four sites at little or no cost to INDOT. At wholesale prices, INDOT estimates that the seed farms produce $200,000 in seeds annually. In addition, using native wildflowers and grasses reduces the need for roadway mowing by one-third – saving approximately $45 per acre in equipment, material and labor costs.

Contact Information

Derek J Weinberg
Innovation & Enhancement Performance Analyst
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN755
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Kristin Brier
Innovation & Enhancement Performance Analyst
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN755
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Barry K. Partridge, Ph.D, P.E.
Director-Research & Development
1205 Montgomery Street
P.O. Box 2279
West Lafayette, IN 47906-2279
765-463-1521 x251