The Department for Infrastructure has opened a new £2 million construction materials testing laboratory at Carn in Portadown.
The purpose-built laboratory will provide an enhanced facility to assess the quality of materials used in the construction and maintenance of the road network.
DfI manages £26billion of essential infrastructure assets across Northern Ireland including the maintenance of 25,000km of roads, 9,700 footways and 5,800 bridges and spends approximately £90million annually on resurfacing with a further £10million on surface dressing.
Explaining the benefit of the new facility, Director of Engineering David Porter said: “The road network across Northern Ireland is an extremely valuable strategic infrastructure asset.
“The provision of a safe road network is a hugely important part of our management of this asset which is essential to economic, societal and environmental well-being. Ensuring durable, smooth and safe road surfaces play an important part in this.
“This new facility increases materials testing capacity and provides assurance that the construction and repairs of our road network are being carried out using materials which are compliant with the specifications.
“This ensures that road repairs and the new construction will be fit for purpose and will help demonstrate that we are achieving value for money from contracts.
“The team has worked hard to achieve the external accreditation from UKAS (UK Accreditation Scheme) which allows this facility to test aggregates, soils, concrete and bituminous materials along with post construction testing of material density, surface regularity and the reflectivity of carriageway markings that help keep people safe.
“The new facilities also include a spray-bar testing area which will enable quality assurance of tanker spray-bars for both surface dressing and resurfacing bond coats.
“While the work done in the materials testing laboratory is often unseen by the travelling public it is very important and it contributes to the safe operation of our transport infrastructure.”