Facility Spotlight: Serving the Road Industry in Wisconsin for more than 85 Years

Since 1935, H.G. Meigs has been involved in the Wisconsin road-building industry with products ranging from asphalt cement to asphalt emulsions. There are three locations Abbotsford, Eau Claire, and Portage. 

Meigs Transport has a dedicated truck fleet of over 40 vehicles which also includes several distributor trucks that are also available. The company strives to exceed customer expectations by providing high-quality products along with incomparable service.  

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Comparative LCA of VRAM Highlighted at TRB 2023 Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C.2023 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting was held in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. This year’s theme was Rejuvenation Out of Disruption: Envisioning a Transportation System for a Dynamic Future. The meeting included exhibitors from academia, industry, and government agencies presenting the latest research findings, technical developments, and implementation efforts within the asphalt industry. 

Asphalt Materials and HRG Labs had the unique opportunity to present two different posters at this year’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in early January.

Impact of Rumble Strips on Longitudinal Joint Pavement Performance

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of a Void Reducing Asphalt Membrane
and Other Longitudinal Joint Treatments

In 2021, ClimeCo collaborated with Asphalt Materials, Inc. (AMI) to complete an LCA-based sustainability assessment of J-Band®, AMI’s void reducing asphalt membrane (VRAM) product. Together, ClimeCo and AMI wrote and presented their paper and poster titled, “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of a Void Reducing Asphalt Membrane and Other Longitudinal Joint Treatments” at this year’s TRB Annual Meeting.

Caroline Kelleher of ClimeCo explains the sustainability benefits of VRAM.

Caroline Kelleher and Gary Yoder from ClimeCo, Gerry Huber of HRG, and Todd Thomas from AMI are the paper’s authors. During the meeting, many attendees came by to learn more about the three sustainability attributes of J-Band: environmental, economic, and social (safety).

Caroline Kelleher of ClimeCo and Todd Thomas of AMI attended the 2023 TRB Annual Meeting.

Important conclusions of this paper include the following:

  • There is significant potential to develop transportation infrastructure in line with the principles of sustainable development
  • Sustainability is an increasingly important component of transportation infrastructure, with federal, regional, and state entities having a range of awareness and education programs, all while promoting the use of ‘green’ or sustainable roadway products.
  • Upstream emissions associated with materials production are outside the carbon accounting of direct emissions, i.e., scope three instead of scope one emissions, and thus, as agencies and contractors look to reduce their scope one emissions, they will be evaluating methods and materials which will allow for a reduction in fuel usage.
  • Longitudinal joint solutions that offer the lowest application-phase emissions, reduced maintenance needs, and extended road lifetimes, will result in the lowest scope one emissions. In this analysis, VRAM and joint adhesive have the lowest construction phase emissions.
  • VRAM had the most economical life cycle cost performance compared to conventional joints and maintenance.

To read this paper, poster, other studies, and educational items about VRAM and J-Band, click the Resources link below.

Sustainability is very important to Asphalt Materials, Heritage Construction + Materials, and The Heritage Group. There are three pillars of sustainability: Economic. Environmental. Social/Safety.

Understanding Sustainability, LCAs, Cradle-to-Grave . . . and More!

There are many sources that use 3 pillars to help explain sustainability. But, explaining the three pillars of sustainability first requires defining sustainability. The concept of sustainability arose from environmental activism. It’s taken to mean making sure that the current generation can meet its needs without making it impossible for future generations to meet theirs. That is, we can sustain ourselves and posterity only with practices that do no future harm.1

We often hear talk about social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability. If we think of sustainability as the roof of a building that protects its occupants, we see that it takes all three pillars to hold it up. Sometimes people summarize them with the words people, profit, and planet. Weakness in any one pillar puts the roof in danger of collapsing. 1

Although the phrase “three pillars of sustainability” is common, one of the most helpful descriptions explains how they relate to each other via a Venn diagram. It comes closer to the related term “three spheres of sustainability.” In either case, no one of them can function optimally without both of the others as shown below.1

A Life Cycle Assessment
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), offers a framework for quantifying the potential environmental impacts of a product from cradle–to–grave (i.e., from growth/extraction of raw material inputs all the way through a product’s disposal), allowing us to make that determination. One of the many applications of an LCA is its ability to demonstrate the environmental benefits achieved by adopting different operational practices.

In February 2022, Gary Yoder and Jaskaran Sidhu wrote a story titled ‘What is a Life Cycle Assessment?’ This informative article highlights important information such as:

  • A Product’s Competitive Edge: Performance and Cost
  • Benefits of Product vs. Alternatives
  • Quantified GHGs and criteria air pollutants (AQ)
  • Using LCAs for a More Sustainable Future

To read the entire article, follow the link below:

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Rumble Strips Can Help Save Lives

Impact of Rumble Strips on Longitudinal Joint Pavement Performance

Rumble Strips Can Help Save Lives

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting was held in Washington, D.C. in early January. This year’s theme was Rejuvenation Out of Disruption: Envisioning a Transportation System for a Dynamic Future. The meeting included exhibitors from academia, industry, and government agencies presenting the latest research findings, technical developments, and implementation efforts within the asphalt industry. 

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H.G. Meigs Earns Third Consecutive Excellence in Manufacturing Award

We are excited to announce that our terminals in Portage and Abbotsford, Wisconsin have been awarded the Excellence in Manufacturing award from the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturing Association (AEMA) for the third year in a row. This is a great honor for these locations and Asphalt Materials, Inc. We are proud of our teams at Portage and Abbotsford for all their hard work and dedication that made this possible. 

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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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