The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) currently has active quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) specifications in asphalt and concrete construction. Work is also underway to implement QC/QA specifications for aggregate base course and earthwork construction. Federal regulations governing the establishment of QC/QA specifications require certified technicians to perform all laboratory and field tests on materials, and in some cases to perform inspection activities. In 1997, AHTD established the Center for Training Transportation Professionals (CTTP) through the Mack-Blackwell National Rural Transportation Study Center (MBTC), which is located at the University of Arkansas. One mission of CTTP is to provide training and subsequent certification testing for both AHTD and contractor personnel regarding proper testing and inspection techniques. Successful completion of such training and demonstrated competence in subject areas leads to certification of the technician.
AHTD, through CTTP, requires technician certification in three primary areas related to roadway materials and construction: asphalt, concrete, and soils/aggregates. It is anticipated that laboratory certification programs will be developed for each of these areas. Federal regulations require that by June 2000, materials testing laboratories (in addition to the personnel employed in the laboratory) be certified to perform tests necessary under QC/QA specifications. There are currently no existing certification programs unique to Arkansas for laboratories. There is at least one national-scope laboratory certification program available for testing facilities in Arkansas – the AASHTO materials reference laboratory (AMRL) program. However, concerns arise regarding a requirement for all testing facilities in Arkansas to obtain AMRL (or some other “national” program) certification within a reasonable timeframe of one to two years.
It is desirable for AHTD certification to be as “standardized” as possible to avoid a multiplicity of certification requirements across the region and the country. It is possible that the AHTD certification may be used as a basis, either alone or with minor additions, for gaining other certifications (i.e. other state highway agencies). Therefore, nationally recognized standards for material testing (ASTM, AASHTO, etc.) will be used in all programs.