The History and Technology of Paving Smoothness

|   Road Construction

The International Roughness Index (IRI) is the gold standard for determining the quality and longevity of a road. But how did that come about? The IRI didn’t just fall out of the sky.

The History and Technology of Paving Automation

1956: Eisenhower launches the revolutionary Interstate Highway System, connecting all 48 contiguous states with more than 48,000 miles of road. 

1967: As road traffic explodes, roads deteriorate and highway accidents skyrocket. The Federal Highway Administration is established to oversee new road projects and improve road safety. 

1970: Disagreements emerge over how to best measure road quality, including competing indexes such as the PCI, the IRI, the PSI and more.  

1972: MOBA is founded in Limburg, Germany by Paul Harms. The company begins to research automation technology for road paving.  

1982: Research teams unite in Brazil from all over the world to conduct the International Road Roughness Experiment. Scientists discover that road roughness is the most important indicator of road quality and safety.  

1986: As a result of the experiment, the International Roughness Index (IRI) becomes the gold standard for road quality throughout the world. 

1991: The MOBA-Matic -II leveling system hits the international market, giving construction crews better control over the paving process. Road installation becomes easier, cheaper, and more optimized. 

1999: MOBA Corporation establishes itself in the United States. 

2000s: The MOBA-Matic II becomes the best-selling road construction levelling system in the U.S. 

2017: The Federal Highway Administration sets new rules for new roads: using the trusty IRI measurement to evaluate road quality. In doing so, federal dollars (including bonuses and penalties) become intrinsically tied to IRI scores. 

2021: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act goes into law, releasing more than $350 billion in federal money for new road projects. This means there are now billions of dollars attached to IRI scores. The construction owner who invests in paving technology will be the one who reaps the benefits. 

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