Future challenges lie in five key areas: future capacity requirements, economics of materials, balanced surface characteristics, safety and security, and sustainability.

We can expect to see a dramatic rise in both traffic and cargo as the population continues to grow. Eventually, we must expand our highway network, consider truck-only lanes and assure connectivity among airfields, ports, and rail terminals. We must take a “macro” view but recognize the importance of highways for freight and people.

Agency/owners, legislators, and taxpayers must be assured a better return on their highway investment. We need to continue to educate everyone that concrete pavements provide owners with the best long-term value compared on the basis of life-cycle costs.

Safety and pavement durability must not be traded off for a quick fix to tire/pavement noise. Concrete pavements are safer and can be designed to provide excellent sound qualities—and retain those qualities for much longer than asphalt pavements.

Sustainability is coming, but not well understood. The transportation community must adopt and balance environmental stewardship, business requirements, and the needs of society. Concrete pavement provides an excellent platform because it does not require rehabilitation or reconstruction as often, consuming fewer raw materials. Concrete pavements also offer better light reflectance, recyclability, use of co-generated materials, and the ability to help urban areas stay cooler.

The bottom line? We see concrete playing a more prominent role in what will drive future decisions.

—Gerald F. Voigt

Read more prognostications by industry leaders on the next 50 years of concrete.