Work Zone Safety and Innovative Pavement Technologies at Top of NAPA’s 2022 Focus Areas

Federal law requires federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, to revise and update their strategic plan at the beginning of each new presidential term.  In so doing, the DOT invited stakeholders to comment on the Draft DOT Strategic Framework, which included draft strategic goals and strategic objectives to accomplish each strategic goal.

The draft DOT Strategic Framework reflects the agency’s priorities for achieving DOT’s mission through six strategic goals: safety, economic strength and global competitiveness, equity, climate and sustainability, transformation, and organizational excellence. The NAPA organization was the only association providing comments on behalf of the asphalt pavement industry.

NAPA President and CEO Audrey Copeland asked DOT to prioritize worker safety in work zones and the deployment of innovative pavement technologies, both of which should be added to the DOT Strategic Framework. Copeland also recommended the inclusion of a goal: the development of revenue options for the Highway Trust Fund.

Asphalt Materials is Focused on Building, Longer-Lasting, Safer Roads

The Department of Transportation (DOT) published their draft Strategic Framework FY2022-2026, for public comment in November 2021. Shown below are a few of the important elements of the DOT’s document where the focus of Asphalt Materials and this framework as particularly aligned.

DOT’s Goals and Terms Defined 

Make our transportation system safer for all people. Work toward a future where transportation-related serious injuries and fatalities are eliminated.  

  • Safe Workers: Support the health and safety of transportation workers and first responders 
  • Safe Design: Design and build transportation infrastructure, vehicles, and systems to improve safety outcomes 
  • Infrastructure Resilience and climate-informed decision-making
  • Design for the future. Invest in purpose-driven research and innovation to meet the challenge of the present and modernize a transportation system of the future that serves everyone today and in the decades to come. 
  • Foster breakthrough discoveries and new knowledge through high-risk, high-reward research driven by policy objectives 
  • Experimentation:  Identify new ideas, new innovation, and new possibilities. Evaluate the opportunities and risks so the Department can support public benefits 
  • Collaboration and Competitiveness:  Work with diverse stakeholders to share noteworthy practices and accelerate the adoption of innovation and technologies 
  • Flexibility and Adaptability:  Design flexibility into transportation system investments to accommodate and respond to changing needs and capabilities to provide long-term benefits 
  • The DOT has expressed an interest in establishing policies, processes, and innovative culture to effectively and responsibly steward the public’s resources
  • The DOT has expressed an interest in educating the public on the value of their transportation investments 
  • Sustainability Initiatives:  Promote a sustainable, clean, and resilient future 
  • Focus on program outcomes and enhanced analytics 
Asphalt delivers sustainability by being the most recycled material in the world.

Asphalt Materials: Focused on Longer-lasting, Safer Roads

One of the most important objectives of Asphalt Materials is to create longer-lasting roads. This objective of AMI is aligned with the DOT and will lead to a more resilient and reliable transportation system, infrastructure and supply chain.  

At the core of the Heritage Group is a tradition of innovation and a strong commitment to science. You see it daily in the problem-solving that occurs among our companies and their customers. And, you see it in the world-class research that’s driven growth across The Heritage Group and earned more than 100 patents.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at Heritage Research Group, our central research and development unit which operates at the cutting-edge of technology from its state-of-the-art research facility at The Center in Indianapolis.

Our focus on innovation is further demonstrated by the creation of HG Ventures, our corporate venture arm which is primarily focused on investments in early- and growth-stage opportunities in the infrastructure space.

The Heritage Group has been developing environmentally- sustainable solutions for more than 50 years – we started Heritage Environmental Services with a Subtitle C landfill in 1970, the same year the EPA was created.

Today, Heritage Environmental Services is a leader in environmental sustainability and a one-stop waste management solution all across North America.

We help clients leverage the full potential of waste, identifying opportunities and efficiencies to re-claim value and turn waste into productive, sustainable assets by leveraging our research and development partners.

Equipped with experience and driven by creativity and innovation, we are a team of environmentalists and engineers passionate about doing things the right way or not at all.

A particularly excellent example of a Heritage Group, Heritage Research Lab and Asphalt Materials discovery is VRAM, a void reducing asphalt membrane which has been shown to create longer-lasting safer roads. Many of the objectives, goals and strategies outlined by the DOT can be achieved by using more VRAM across a variety of projects in the United States in 2022 and beyond.

  • VRAM helps build longer-lasting roads lead to a more resilient and reliable infrastructure and supply chain
  • VRAM helps build longer-lasting roads that are more environmentally friendly than many other mechanical methods
  • VRAM helps build longer-lasting roads that are more sustainable
  • VRAM is a breakthrough discovery that helps roads last up to 5 years longer and delivers a return on investment of 3 to 5 times its cost
  • VRAM is a breakthrough innovation that has an impressive track record that has been performing and delivering results since 2002
  • VRAM is being used in 21 states and The District of Columbia. These states can collaborate with other states to accelerate the adoption of the VRAM innovative technology
  • VRAM provides long-term benefits as shown in an Indiana DOT life cycle analysis where an investment of $12.5M in J-Band can result in a $39M in savings (approximately 3:1 ROI).

Asphalt Materials, Inc. an Important Company Within The Heritage Group

At The Heritage Group, we have been developing environmentally sustainable solutions for more than 50 years. We started Heritage Environmental Services with a Subtitle C landfill in 1970, the same year the EPA was created. Today, Heritage Environmental Services is a leader in environmental sustainability and a one-stop waste management solution spread across North America.

Sustainability is important all across The Heritage Group. Our businesses are focused on leaving the world a better place for future generations.

At Asphalt Materials (AMI), we work closely with The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). NAPA works to support, advocate, and advance the asphalt pavement industry. One of NAPA’s focus areas for 2022 is climate stewardship and how asphalt is environmentally friendly as it is America’s most recycled material. Our industry continuously explores methods and practices to contribute to a sustainable infrastructure and a healthy environment for generations to come.

It is always worth noting that asphalt delivers sustainability by being the most recycled material in the world !

Be on the lookout for future articles on these subjects throughout 2022.

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NAPA Helps Explain New Sustainability Terminology Expected to Become Commonplace in 2022

At The Heritage Group, we have been developing environmentally sustainable solutions for more than 50 years. We started Heritage Environmental Services with a Subtitle C landfill in 1970, the same year the EPA was created. Today, Heritage Environmental Services is a leader in environmental sustainability and a one-stop waste management solution spread across North America.

Sustainability is important all across The Heritage Group. Our businesses are focused on leaving the world a better place for future generations.

At Asphalt Materials (AMI), we work closely with The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). NAPA works to support, advocate, and advance the asphalt pavement industry. One of NAPA’s focus areas for 2022 is climate stewardship and how asphalt is environmentally friendly as it is America’s most recycled material. Our industry continuously explores methods and practices to contribute to a sustainable infrastructure and a healthy environment for generations to come.

As part of NAPA’s Climate Stewardship Task Force, they will be helping explain terminology that is expected to become commonplace in 2022. Look for more updates in the coming weeks. Here are a few listed below.

Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint is an estimate of how much carbon dioxide is produced to support your lifestyle. Essentially, it measures your impact on the climate based on how much carbon dioxide you produce. Factors that contribute to your carbon footprint include your travel methods and general home energy usage. Carbon footprints can also be applied, on a larger scale, to companies, businesses, even countries. (Source: NAPA Action News. Defining The Road Forward. https://www.naylornetwork.com/nap-nwl/articles/index-v7.asp?aid=707737&issueID=88351)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration, what people exhale when they breathe. It is naturally present in air (about 0.03%) and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is one carbon atom that is joined with two oxygen atoms.

Carbon Dioxide is Naturally Occurring

Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas. When you inhale (breathe in), air enters your lungs and oxygen from the air moves from your lungs to your blood. At the same time, carbon dioxide, a waste gas, moves from your blood to the lungs and is exhaled (breathe out).

Heritage Construction & Materials

Our Heritage Construction & Materials (HC+M) family of companies have built roads, bridges, and other commercial projects across the Midwest and as far away as China. Our asphalt and aggregate supply companies produce and distribute the highest quality road construction materials and specialty minerals throughout the country.

HC+M companies are industry-leading innovators, due in large part to the problem-solving nature of our employees, our close collaboration with the Heritage Research Group , and our mutual commitment to listen to the needs of our customers.

As part of The Heritage Group, Asphalt Materials was founded in 1956 and we continue to supply high quality products and services around the United States, allowing us to excel in pavement preservation techniques and construction services.

We work closely with the Heritage Research Group team to ensure the highest quality asphalt materials and processes are brought to market. We are committed to building long term relationships and mutual trust. We are excited to tackle our industries biggest challenges, looking for new and inventive ways to create solutions that will mean better, safer and longer lasting roads.

To learn more about HC+M, visit this website: https://thgrp.com/transportation-infrastructure-materials/

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NAPA Helps Answer: What is the Environmental Impact of Asphalt?

The asphalt industry has a long history of working with federal regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA. Since the early 1990s, the EPA has done extensive testing on asphalt plant emissions and in 2002 removed this industrial sector from the “major source” category, identifying that emissions from asphalt plants are not an area of concern. (1) NAPA is the National Asphalt Pavement Association.

Understanding Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) as a Clean Fill Material

In 2019, more than 97 million tons of RAP and 921,000 tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) were used in new asphalt pavement mixes in the U.S. That year about 139 million tons of RAP and RAS were stockpiled for future use across the country. Reusing RAP in future pavements saved nearly 60 million cubic yards of landfill space during 2019.  (2)

As America’s biggest recycler, millions of tons of asphalt pavement material is reclaimed each year during road widening and resurfacing projects, and nearly all of that material is reused. Incorporating reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) into new pavements reduces demands for virgin asphalt binder, helping to keep costs down as well as improving the environmental footprint of projects.

Not all RAP is recycled into new asphalt pavements, however. Occasionally, the question arises as to whether or not RAP can be used as “clean fill.” Although obviously not the highest and best use of this vital resource, regulations regarding when and where RAP can be placed as fill material vary from state to state and can be complex. In most instances, RAP falls under state solid-waste requirements and purview.

Material that is Recycled is Not Considered Solid Waste

Because state environmental agencies often have more restrictive solid-waste disposal regulations than the federal Environmental Protection Agency, it is important to understand how RAP is defined. U.S. EPA classifies RAP as construction and demolition (C&D) debris that is part of the federal solid-waste chain. Federal regulations also identify that if materials are “recycled,” then they are not considered solid waste. However, there is a “speculative accumulation” federal definition that requires a 75 percent annual “turnover” to maintain the recycled material classification vs. solid waste.

There are NO Harmful Compounds Leached from RAP

RAP is not, and never has been, considered a “hazardous” solid waste. Years of leaching studies show that there are no harmful components leached from RAP under the most stringent waste definition extraction conditions. (See NAPA Special Report 190: “Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Stockpile Emissions and Leachate.”) In general, it is acceptable for RAP to be used as a road material — as part of the base, recycled back into pavement, etc. — both from a federal and state perspective. Although U.S. EPA does not appear to have a strict definition of “clean fill”, specific requirements do apply to solid-waste materials applied to land.

The bottom line is that each state’s environmental agency will likely dictate whether or not RAP can be used as a clean fill material. Under normal use and circumstances, RAP should never be considered as hazardous waste. (3)

See Also

Sources:

  1. https://www.asphaltpavement.org/expertise/health-safety/environmental
  2. Williams, B.A., Willis, Richard & Shacat, Joseph (2019). Asphalt Pavement Industry Survey on Recycled Materials and Warm-Mix Asphalt Usage: 2018 (IS 138) National Asphalt Pavement Association, Greenbelt, Maryland.
  3. https://www.asphaltpavement.org/uploads/documents/SR204-RAP_as_Clean_Fill.pdf

Environmental & Sustainability Terms

  • GHG
    • Greenhouse Gases
    • Many gasses have global warming properties (GHG). The majority of GHG emissions from industrial, commercial, and institutional activities are CO2, CH4, and N2O.
  • CO2
    • Carbon Dioxide
    • Carbon dioxide is a natural greenhouse gas, commonly produced by the air we exhale. At higher levels, CO2 affects productivity, sleep and infectious disease.
    • Some believe carbon dioxide and methane are the biggest drivers of global warming related to human activities
    • CO2 is the reference gas for Global Warming Potential (GWP) compared to other GHG gases. GWP = 1
  • CH4
    • Methane
    • Methane is a colorless, odorless, flammable gas that is the simplest hydrocarbon and is the major constituent of natural gas
    • Some believe carbon dioxide and methane are the biggest drivers of global warming related to human activities
    • CH4 GWP = 25 (25 times greater warming potential than CO2)
  • N2O
    • Nitrous Oxide
    • Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a chemical compound with the chemical formula N2O.
    • It is a colorless non-flammable gas at room temperature, with a pleasant, slightly sweet odor and taste.
    • It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects.
    • Some believe it may be the most important greenhouse gas after methane and carbon dioxide and the biggest human-related threat to the ozone layer
    • N2O GWP = 298 (298 times greater warming potential than CO2)
  • CO2e
    • Carbon dioxide equivalent
    • This is the number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas, and is calculated using Equation A-1 in 40 CFR Part 98
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Sustainable Infrastructure Project in Gogebic County Michigan

Cold In-Place Recycling

In 2021, the Gogebic County Road Commission constructed their first recycling job.  The first phase, which was approximately 3 miles of the Lake Road Cold In-Place Recycle (CIR) project, was finished in 2021. There are approximately 2.5 miles that are projected to finish in 2022. This final section of the roadway to be completed in 2022 is to repave the stretch of road from Little Girls Point to the Wisconsin border.

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Pavement Preservation Leads to a More Sustainable Infrastructure

Pavement preservation is a cost-effective and greener approach to getting the most life out of your roads and making taxpayer dollars go further. In addition to cost efficiency, a pavement preservation approach is known to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), consume less energy, and provide faster application times than the alternative conventional approach.

A well-implemented pavement preservation approach achieves maximum efficiency by increasing the average condition of your pavement while decreasing your average spending per square yard. Pavement Preservation treatments are known for their ability to ensure quality with minimal effect on your budget and the environment.

Compare cost savings and environmental impact by treatment

An approach to pavement management that applies a robust toolbox of pavement preservation and recycling treatments will save time, money, while also reducing environmental impact over the long term. By using a PPRA calculator you are able to see average data comparing the cost and environmental savings of preservation and recycling techniques, compared to conventional reconstruction, mill and fill, or thin overlays.

Critical Concept !!

Every year, every mile of your network loses 1 mile-year of life. To avoid losing ground, the roadway owner must design a treatment plan that adds 500 mile-years of life or more! Over the first 75% of a road’s life, it will drop 40% in quality. Over the next 12% of its life, it will drop another 40% in quality. All roads pass a point of accelerated deterioration – past this point, costly rehab and reconstruction are the only options.

Worst – First Approach

Many agencies are learning that the use of limited funds toward a “Worst First” Approach accelerates the decline of their overall network, as miles of good roads go untreated each year. A conventional method of pavement management uses limited budgets to address the most deteriorated roads first. Miles of good roads go untreated each year, accelerating the decline of the overall network.

Many agencies are identifying pavement management strategies that use limited resources more efficiently, and designing treatment plans that reallocate budgets to make incremental network gains (instead of losses) each year. Use our Remaining Service Life tool to find out if your treatment plan is adding or subtracting life from your network.

Optimized Approach

By considering an Optimized Approach, which reallocates funds across more efficient strategies to keep good roads good and help you get ahead of the curve.

Understanding Remaining Service Life (RSL) is critical to designing a treatment plan that stretches your budget further and reverses the trend of a deteriorating network.

Pavement Preservation Methods’ ROI (Spend $1 Save $6)

There are two basic ideas to follow when choosing a Pavement Preservation Strategy:

1. Prioritize roads that are in fair-to-good condition. Why spend money on a road that is in decent condition? It is the most effective way to stretch dollars while also improving overall pavement condition. If you put your budget toward inexpensive, frequent treatments to semi-distressed roads, you will find the most savings as a whole. 

2. Applying a pavement preservation method maximizes pavement quality & lifespan.  Oxidation and moisture can take hold of a pavement within the first 2 years of its life, losing elasticity and becoming frail over time. These issues can result in surface raveling, cracking, potholes, and eventually pavement failure.

By performing a simple early pavement preservation system combined with a high-quality product the pavement can be preserved resulting in superior and longer-lasting roads. Maximizing your investment over time. Pavement preservation techniques not only provide the best way to maintain road integrity and durability, but they also reduce motorist delays and provide longer-lasting, safer roads.

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To learn more about Asphalt Materials Pavement Preservation Projects, visit our products page:

https://asphalt-materials.com/products/

Sources for this Article and Other Resources Available to Learn More

https://roadresource.org/preservation

PPRA’s RSL Calculator – Ready To Optimize Your Network?

https://roadresource.org/network/rsl_calc

https://roadresource.org/preservation/calculator

About PPRA:

The Pavement Preservation & Recycling Alliance (PPRA) provides a collective space to bring industry and agency together for the advancement of sustainable, eco-efficient, and innovative pavement applications.

Joining together resources from the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association, the Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association, and the International Slurry Surfacing Association, PPRA unites a network of members dedicated to: “Better roads today. Stronger networks tomorrow.” Jointly, PPRA assists agencies by providing a centralized repository for comprehensive information related to pavement preservation and asphalt recycling and reclaiming. PPRA seeks to help agencies at the state, county, and local levels to make the right choices for their road networks and be the best possible stewards of their roads and of taxpayer dollars.

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What is America’s Most Recycled Product?

Asphalt pavements are one of our greatest renewable resources! The U.S. recycles about 2 million tons of plastic each year while recycling and reusing over 60 million tons of asphalt.

In addition, plastic recycling alters the chemical structure, so many plastics become different types of products once recycled. Roads, on the other hand, are reusable and renewable infinitely. (1)

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Calumet County, Wisconsin Helping to Create Longer Lasting, Safer Roads

Many states are looking for methods to improve longitudinal joint performance of their pavements, since these joints often fail before the rest of the surface. With the inherently lower density at the longitudinal joints we often see pavements fail by cracking, raveling, and potholing. Lower density is synonymous with higher air voids which leads to premature failure of pavements due to the intrusion of air and water. Studies have shown that longitudinal joints in pavements are often the weakest areas of a road. (1)

A picture of a pavement’s longitudinal joint with significant damage.

Several state DOTs (Department of Transportation) are now using a materials approach to seal the longitudinal joint region by filling these air voids with asphalt content from the bottom up.

The materials approach is referred to as VRAM(2), a Void Reducing Asphalt Membrane.  VRAM is a highly polymer-modified asphalt cement that is placed at the location of a longitudinal joint before paving. As mix is paved over it, the VRAM melts and migrates up into voids in the low-density mix, making the mix impermeable to moisture while sealing the longitudinal joint itself.

Think of this materials approach and application as putting VRAM down first (asphalt content), to fill air voids in the HMA mat, AFTER the HMA has been placed. This is the innovative nature and chemistry of VRAM and why it has been helping roads last longer in more than 20 states in the United States. 

This particular project covers 10,560 feet in Calumet County, Wisconsin from US 151 to Honeymoon Hills Road.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) test pavements were evaluated after 12 years and found to have longitudinal joints that exhibited significantly better performance than the control joint sections and were in similar or better condition than the rest of the pavement. Laboratory testing of cores showed decreased permeability and increased crack resistance of mix near joints with VRAM as compared with similar mix without VRAM. The life extension of the joint area is approximately 3–5 years, and the benefit is calculated to be three to five times the initial cost.

You will note the test section (above the white line) does not have VRAM, while the section below did use VRAM. This is 15 years AFTER the VRAM was placed under the HMA at time of construction.

This project’s VRAM application began at 8:05pm with ProTack operating the 05-distributor shooting from the driver’s side. They started at address N3362 in the eastbound lane. Ambient temperature was 61F and existing pavement was 80F. ProTack applied a straight and consistent line throughout the project. VRAM width was measured with an average of 18 inches. (3)

An 18 inch application of VRAM.

The paving crew started at 11:40.  Paving equipment consisted of a Volvo P7170B paver, Sakai SW850-II – 12-ton breakdown roller and a Volvo DD25B-5-ton finish roller. Width was 12 feet.  Mix temp was 275F under the screed.

HMA is placed over the VRAM. The heat and pressure of the HMA cause the VRAM material to migrate upwards 50-75% into the HMA, filling voids with asphalt content.

J-Band® is a VRAM product from Asphalt Materials, Inc. and was created in the labs of the Heritage Research Group.

J-Band has been helping roads last longer since 2002. VRAM has been used in 20 states and the District of Columbia. 

Notes:

  1. Materials Approach to Improving Asphalt Pavement Longitudinal Joint Performance. National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2021 Article: https://doi.org/10.1177/03611981211044451 
  2. Editor’s Notes: VRAM, Void Reducing Asphalt Membrane is referred to in Illinois as LJS, Longitudinal Joint Sealant.
  3. Depending on the situation VRAM can be sprayed at different width’s. This article notes 18” which is a typical application width for centerline applications.

Keywords: Infrastructure, Void Reducing Asphalt Material, Longitudinal Joints, J-Band, binder specifications, pavements, design and rehabilitation of asphalt pavements, asphalt, construction, asphalt pavement construction and rehabilitation, materials, binders, Asphalt Materials, The Heritage Group, Milestone, HC&M, Heritage Research Labs.

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