PennDOT Opens New Lab

HARRISBURG – Just in time to meet the demands of a nearly $3 billion roadway and bridge construction season, the Department of Transportation recently opened its new highway materials testing lab in Harrisburg, PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. announced.

“It’s going to be a busy highway construction season, which not only means jobs for workers, but also lots of materials testing to ensure the quality of products used in roads and bridges across the state,” Biehler said. “This new lab will do just that and also allow our employees to conduct their work more safely and efficiently.”

Before the new lab was built, PennDOT employees were working in a nearly 100-year-old facility that did not meet the demands of a vigorous testing program.

The new, 107,500-square-foot facility, which is located on the former Harrisburg State Hospital grounds, employs 120 workers involved with the quality assurance and testing of construction material.

The new facility offers an improved HVAC system, backup generators and more space to accommodate testing equipment.

PennDOT typically performs more than 70,000 tests a year on items including aggregate, asphalt, cement, concrete, paint, road salt, soil and steel. More than 13,000 samples arrived in the lab last year, with each sample often undergoing multiple testing processes.

PennDOT’s lab was the first state lab in the nation to receive ISO 9001 certification, which means it meets international standards for quality management. For this certification, the lab must include a set of procedures covering key business processes, monitor processes to ensure their effectiveness, keep adequate records, regularly review the effectiveness of individual processes and the quality system, and facilitate continual improvement. It also holds ISO 17025 certification related to testing standards and competency of equipment, methods and staff.

The lab also holds accreditations by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official Materials Reference Laboratory and the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory.

Construction of the $27.1 million lab began in September 2007. The size and facilities of the new site ensure that the lab will meet modern testing requirements in a low-maintenance facility that will last for years.

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