For years, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Sediment and Erosion Control (SEC) Laboratory (formerly the Hydraulics, Sedimentation and Erosion Control Laboratory) has provided sponsors with a state-of-the-art facility for assessing sediment and erosion control products.
The SEC Lab is recognized as one of the premiere facilities of its type in the world. Since 1990, the lab has regularly updated the Approved Products List (APL) for erosion control materials created for the Texas Department of Transportation. Many states — and even some municipalities such as Austin, Texas — not only use the APL, but also require manufacturers to undergo product-performance evaluation at the SEC Lab prior to approving their use.
Other states have used the facility through a pooled-fund project supported nationally by the Federal Highway Administration. The project maximizes the lab’s capabilities and gives participating states priority in using the facility and receiving test results. In fact, the lab had become so popular for its capabilities and standards of excellence that customers were waiting in line for testing.
“At one point we had a year-and-a-half waiting list for people requesting testing,” says TTI Assistant Research Scientist Jett McFalls, manager of the SEC Lab. “This expansion will more than double our current capabilities and reduce the waiting list.”
With over 3,600 square feet of expanded research capabilities (featuring the ability to conduct American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM] testing), the SEC Lab is poised to become the go-to facility for sediment and erosion control research not only in Texas, but the entire country.
According to McFalls, the construction team applied lessons learned from the original SEC Lab to enhance the capabilities of the new indoor rainfall simulator building.
“It’s little things like inverting the railing system for easier tray set-up and access and installing the mezzanine so visitors can safely view a rainfall simulation that will make this an attractive research facility for new sponsors,” says McFalls. Another added feature to appeal to sponsors is the improved research responsiveness that will come with the expansion.
“The plan is to have one of the five rainfall simulator bays open and available,” says McFalls. “That way, if a sponsor calls and needs something done quickly, we can accommodate the request in a timely manner.”
The SEC Lab expansion features:
- ASTM testing capabilities,
- three new 40-foot-by-8-foot soil fill trays (in addition to the existing 30-foot-by-6 foot trays),
- restroom facilities,
- a covered bed prep area,
- a viewing mezzanine,
- a soil storage building and
- an enhanced sediment collection system.