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Andy Bateman Miller Group scores twice

Miller scores twice in Paver of the Year Awards

Written by Andy Bateman   

The sought after 2007 Paver of the Year Award was won by Miller Northwest Ltd. for outstanding work on MTO contract 2006-6049, located on Highway 17 at English River.

The Paver of the Year Awards are a fixture on the Ontario roadbuilding calendar, with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) recognising the province’s Paver of the Year and three finalists for excellent work on MTO contracts. In keeping with tradition, the awards were presented during the Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA) convention, held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto and presented this year by the Hon. James Bradley, Minister of Transportation.


The sought after 2007 Paver of the Year Award was won by Miller Northwest Ltd. for outstanding work on MTO contract 2006-6049, located on Highway 17 at English River. This $9.66 million contract began on May 1, 2007 and was completed on October 29, 2007 and extended from the English River Bridge easterly for 16 km. General manager Ross Reynolds explains that Highway 17 at English River is one of only two highways linking Thunder Bay with Western Canada, with the contractor having to deal with the resultant high volume traffic flow. As a result of effective traffic control measures, operations were performed with minimal disruption to the steady flow of commercial vehicles servicing all of Northwestern Ontario and the rest of Canada.


At one stage, wet weather threatened to seriously delay the job. Reynolds explains, "A rainfall amount of more than double the expected average for the month of September created several adverse conditions to address before successful completion of the project. The asphalt aggregate stockpiles became heavily saturated to the point that in order to maintain daily plant production, a night shift had to be scheduled solely for the purpose of drying fine aggregates using the Cedarapids asphalt plant. If these measures had not been implemented, the plant’s production would have become inconsistent and these variations would have been reflected in the final mix.

"In addition, the reduced production rate would not have allowed the successful completion of the contract before freezing conditions, resulting in a further adverse impact on the finished product. The heavy rainfall, coupled with rapidly decreasing hours of daylight, required that every part of the paving operations functioned at an optimum level while still delivering maximum quality".


Reynolds attributes a successful project to teamwork by all involved, from entry level personnel to supervisory staff. "Each individual working on the project assumed the responsibility of providing the best quality results in a safe and productive manner, including construction manager Christian Oscroft, quality control administrator Gordon Murray, asphalt production supervisor Terry Ernewein and paving operations foreman Brian Emon.


"Quality took priority, beginning with the production of aggregates by Gilbertson Enterprises Ltd., the hauling and placing of granular base by Moncrief Construction Ltd. and fine grading by Jim Clarida and Sons. Teamwork and communication between our subcontractors allowed for a steady flow of operations, providing a high quality finished product."


Turning to material and equipment, hot mix asphalt was produced by a 300 tonnes/h Cedarapids portable drum plant with wet scrubber and located in the MTO’s Pit Firesteel River #11. Asphalt was delivered by both company and broker trucks, utilising tractors with end dumps and tri-axle dump trucks, with payloads of 33 tonnes and 20 tonnes, respectively. On site, a Roadtec SB2500 Shuttle Buggy fed a Cedarapids CR461R asphalt paver equipped with a Topcon sonic feeder control system and automatic grade control. The compaction train following this duo included a Caterpillar CB634 breakdown roller making three passes, a Bomag BW24R pneumatic compactor in the secondary position making eight passes and a Dynapac CP221 rubber tired roller making six passes to finish the mat. Average compaction densities achieved were 95 per cent for the SP 19 mm and SP 12.5 mm asphalt mixes. Principal mix quantities included 18 555 tonnes of Superpave 19 mm and 18 605 tonnes of Superpave 12.5 mm, together with 13 603 tonnes and 83 751 tonnes of Granular B and A base material, respectively, 25 166 m3 of earth excavation, 4797 m3 of rock excavation, 3847 m3 of rock embankment and 171 441 m2 of in-place full depth reclamation of bituminous pavement and its underlying granular material. Aggregates were sourced from the MTO Pit Firesteel River #11 and the MTO Quarry Firesteel River #8, while McAsphalt  Industries supplied the asphalt cement for the Superpave mixtures.


Dufferin Construction Company, no stranger to the MTO awards, received a finalist award for quality work on contract 2006–3039 in the MTO’s Southwestern Region. This 9 km long contract was located on Highway 403 near Brantford, beginning 1.0 km west of Garden Ave and extending to the Brant County’s boundary with the City of Hamilton. Valued at $11.41 million, the one-year job was completed in October 2007.


Asphalt QC manager Paulo Janicas notes that all of the work was completed at night, necessitating good operating practices to ensure both a safe job and a quality product, "This project was a good example of teamwork and demonstrated consistency amongst our plant crews, paving crews, and quality control staff. An important part of its success was also the constant communication between production, operations and quality control which facilitated quick resolution to any quality issues."


Dufferin project personnel included superintendent David Pimpanella, manager, plants equipment and technology, Peter Gamble, asphalt QC manager Paulo Janicas, senior lab supervisor Vincent Gangaram and QCA Syed Khadri. Janicas notes that all the hot mix asphalt supply for this contract was in house. Hot mix asphalt was produced by a CMI portable drum mix plant set up in Hamilton at Dartnall Rd. and Highway 53, while secondary supply was provided when necessary by Dufferin’s fixed batch plant located at Third Line in Oakville. Some 84 000 tonnes of hot mix asphalt included SP 12.5, SP 12.5 FC2, SP 19 and SP 25 Superpave mixes. Coarse and fine aggregates for 7322 tonnes of SP 12.5 mix were supplied from Dufferin Aggregates’ Flamborough and Milton quarries and mixed with Performance Grade Asphalt Cement (PGAC) 58-28. Raw materials in 22 272 tonnes of SP 12.5 FC2 mix included PGAC 64-28 and Dense Friction Course (DFC) coarse aggregate, blend sand and modified sand from Aecon Marmora. Some 50 100 tonnes of SP 19 mix, utilised PGAC 64-28, coarse aggregates from Dufferin Aggregates’ Cayuga and Flamborough quarries, as well as fine aggregate from Milton quarry. Finally, 4087 tonnes of SP 25 utilised PGAC 58-28 and the same aggregate sources as the SP 19 mix. Bitumar Inc. supplied asphalt cement for all the mixes.


On site, Dufferin’s well proven paving train included a Roadtec SB 2500C shuttle buggy, Caterpillar AP1000B paver, with the mat compacted by a Caterpillar CB634D breakdown compactor, Dynapac pneumatic secondary compactor and Caterpillar CB634D finishing roller to achieve overall compaction densities of 94 per cent. In addition to asphalt paving, the contracts’ scope of work included 33 500 tonnes of granular base, drainage with a subdrain major component and electrical work that included traffic counting stations.


R.W Tomlinson Limited, another familiar name for MTO awards, was a finalist for work in the MTO’s Eastern Region on MTO contract 2006-4017. The contract on Highway 60, east of Algonquin Park, extended from the western limits of Barry’s Bay west to Arbor Vitae Road. Tomlinson was a subcontractor to Cruickshank Construction Limited on this $6.5 million contract which included grading, drainage, granular base, hot mix paving, electrical and structure.


One of the most striking aspects of this job was the haul distance for hot mix asphalt. Russ Perry, Tomlinson’s Highway Division manager, reports that asphalt was trucked to the job site from Ottawa, entailing a one way haul of over 200 km. With this haul distance, and truck payloads varying from 21 tonnes to 43 tonnes, 30-35 trucks were necessary to provide 1000 tonnes or more per round of trucks. Perry adds that numerous independent hired trucks were used in addition to all of the company fleet.


On site, a single lift of asphalt was laid over an expanded (foamed) asphalt base completed by the Hard Rock Pavement Recycling Inc. To achieve target smoothness levels, the road was initially profiled at an average production rate of 1000 m2/hr utilising a CMI PR 800-7 pavement profiler. Hot mix asphalt was produced by the stationary Gencor 400 UltraDrum plant located in Tomlinson’s Moodie Drive operation in Ottawa. Mixture arriving on site discharged into a Roadtec SB 2500B Shuttle Buggy feeding a pair of Caterpillar AP1055D rubber track pavers, each equipped with MOBA grade controls. An average paving production rate of between 200 and 300 tonnes/h was maintained, with breakdown compaction completed by Bomag BW205 and Caterpillar CB634C units. Secondary compaction was completed by Caterpillar PS300B and Bomag BW24RH pneumatic units, while the mat was finished by a pair of Caterpillar CB534C rollers. Compaction equipment made two passes to achieve densities of 93.5 per cent. Perry reports that excellent materials supplied by the Rideau Road Quarry enabled extremely high End Result Specification (ERS) results to be achieved, while good production practices were key to good mat smoothness. Achieving those good results was not always easy, with poor weather impacting the long truck haul and very hot weather sometimes causing equipment overheating when echelon paving up steep grades. For this contract, Tomlinson used an SP 12.5FCI mix in lieu of the specified SP 12.5 mix to meet required specifications for skid resistance. The job required, Raw materials for 13 000 tonnes of hot mix asphalt included PGAC 58-34 from Bitumar Inc., and internally sourced aggregates; fine aggregate came from Tomlinson’s Moodie Drive Quarry while the company’s Rideau Rd. Quarry provided coarse aggregate.


2007 was clearly a good year for the Miller Group. In addition to Miller Northwest Ltd. scooping the Paver of the Year Award, Miller Paving Northern won a finalist award for an excellent performance on MTO contract 2006-5162. This contract on Highway 655 north of Timmins, began 21.1 km north of the junction of Highway 101 and extended north for 13.9 km, with Miller Paving Northern subcontractor to prime contractor M.J. Labelle Co. Ltd. Work included grading, drainage, granular base, milling, pulverizing hot mix paving, and most significantly for the roadbuilder, the construction of eight low temperature test sections. The $11.7 million contract was completed between August 1, 2006, and August 17, 2007.


Due to eight test sections, paving superintendent Andy Desmarais aptly describes this as "a job within a job". Each test section was 450 m long, consisting of a 50 m transition section, two sections of 100 m each for obtaining samples and a 200 m monitoring section. All eight sections had a 50 mm lift of SP 19 and a 40 mm lift of SP 12.5 asphalt, with test section paving completed in two stages. Stage one ran from June 18 to June 28, 2007 and included a contract restriction on granular grade work over a long weekend. Stage 2 ran from July 19 to August 11, 2007 for the completion of the remainder of the contract, all test sections and final paving.

Miller Paving Northern personnel involved in this project included Northern Ontario vice president Eric Desbiens, quality control manager Herb Villneff Sr., paving foreman Charlie Peddie, plants manager Steve Lescom, project manager Britt Herd, project manager Terry Desmarais and Miller Timmins manager Bob Adamson. Andy Desmarais adds that a number of people with Labelle were also an important part of a successful job, including owner and president Marcel Labelle, vice president Peter Osmar, project manager Charles Caldwell, project superintendent Michael Blouin, project foreman George Guppy and surveyor Stephane Levasseur.

Desmarais adds that the greatest challenge faced by Miller Paving in the construction of these test sections was in learning how to handle each of the asphalt grades supplied by McAsphalt.


"The hot mix produced using each of the different products had its own characteristics and mixing temperatures and reacted differently to production, placement, and compaction procedures. Miller Paving did rise to these challenges and an excellent end product was achieved. Two of these test sections included the introduction of fibres into the hot mix".


For seven test sections, unmodified Cold Lake 300/400 penetration grade specialty asphalt cement was supplied to McAsphalt Industries where it was blended with the appropriate modifiers according to manufacturer’s procedures. The resulting asphalt cements were: Cold Lake AC with 7 wt. per cent radial Kraton (D1184), Cold Lake AC with 7 wt. per cent triblock Kraton (D-1192), Cold Lake AC with 7 wt. per cent linear diblock Kraton D-1118, Cold Lake AC with 2.5 wt. per cent Elvaloy AM, Cold Lake AC 300/400 pen AC with (0.3 wt. %polypropylene fibre additive at plant site), Cold Lake AC 300/400 pen AC with (0.3 wt per cent polyester fibre additive at plant site) and Cold Lake AC with 1.5 wt per cent polphosphoric acid (PPA). The asphalt mixture in the eighth (control) section utilised McAsphalt Industries PGAC 52-34 with 0.5 per cent AC, with the same mixture also used outside the test sections.


Despite these challenges, an excellent end product was achieved. Miller Paving received bonuses for the hot mix produced and placed under the MTO’s End Result Specification (ERS) system for mix properties and compaction, as well as full ERS bonus for smoothness. The job stretched Miller’s Quality Control (QC) staff due to the exceptionally large number of samples that had to be obtained and tested. These included five cans of binder, each containing five gallons, for each type of modified binder, one 100 kg sample of fibre for each type of fibre, twenty samples, each weighing 20 kg (i.e. 400 kg per test section) taken from the binder course mix and, likewise, twenty samples each weighing 20 kg from the surface course mix, all taken during production. In addition, three tonnes of coarse and fine aggregate were required for each mix design. Desmarais reports that Miller Paving QC staff rose to the challenge, with all samples taken and tested without interruption to paving operations.


Hot mix asphalt for the test sections was supplied from two asphalt plants. A portable drum mix plant set up on the job site 2.5 km southwest of the northeast limits provided asphalt for three test sections, while the remaining five test sections were supplied from a stationary plant located 30 km southwest of the job limits. The original plan was to supply all main line paving from the portable plant, but in the event the stationary plant supplied 70 per cent of the SP 19.0 mix and 15 per cent of the SP 12.5 mix, while the portable plant supplied 30 per cent of the SP 19.0 mix and 85% of SP 12.5 mix. In practice, the use of two plants facilitated the hot mix placement schedule as well as asphalt cement deliveries. The portable asphalt plant supplying the job was a Bomega Manufacturing plant rated at 300 tonnes/h and equipped with wet scrubber, 80-tonne capacity silo and four cold feed bins. The stationary plant was a Barber Greene two tonnes capacity batch plant rated at 120 tonnes/h, likewise equipped with wet scrubber, 80 tonnes capacity silo and four cold feed bins. In addition, the stationary plant was equipped with a fibre injection system, enabling fibre additive mixtures to be produced for two of the test sections. Asphalt was hauled to site by company and broker tri-axle dump trucks with 20-tonne payloads together with broker live bottom 40-tonne payload units.


According to Desmarais, the combination of a Roadtec SB2500 Shuttle Buggy and dedicated paving crew was instrumental in producing a finished pavement that is uniform and free of segregation, thereby allowing Miller Paving to achieve full bonus for smoothness under the MTO’s ERS system. The paver was a Caterpillar AP1055 unit equipped with Topcon’s System Five automatic machine control system and a 12.2 m long drag ski. Behind the paver, the Bomag compaction train included a Bomag BW211D dual steel drum vibratory compactor and two Bomag BW24R pneumatic tired compactors.


Like other award winners, Desmarais underlines the importance of good communication, both external and internal. Here, excellent communication and co-operation was maintained between Miller Paving Northern as major sub contractor for asphalt paving and fine grading, asphalt cement supplier McAsphalt Industries Ltd., (an affiliate of the Miller Group), prime contractor M.J. Labelle Co. Ltd., consultants D.F. Elliott Consulting Engineers Ltd. and the MTO. Internal teamwork was also a factor between Miller’s paving crew, plant crew, quality control crews, shop mechanics, grading crews, line painting crew, as well as Miller’s Timmins and New Liskeard offices. Credit also goes to Labelle’s performance in completing earth excavations, granular grade raises and road widening. Aggregates for the contract’s hot mix asphalt and granular base material were supplied by Labelle’s Abitibi pit and quarry, including some 13 500 tonnes for the SP 12.5 mix and 15 000 tonnes for the SP 19 mix, in addition to 149 800 tonnes of Granular A base material and 183 000 tonnes of Granular B base. Additional job quantities included 114 400 m2 of partial pulverizing, 42 000 m of pavement marking, 123,000 m3 of earth excavation and 632 m of drainage culverts.


Information gathered over the coming years from the completed test sections will help pavement designers accurately predict optimum asphalt cement properties for long term pavement life in low temperature conditions. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation, in collaboration with researchers from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and Dr. Simon Hesp of Queen’s University, is participating in the study of the test sections. n