Building better roads – Committing to improving the quality of our roads
By Andrew Macklin
March 1, 2016 – How do you build a better road? I don’t think I truly grasped the complexity of that question until I stepped into a room with 400 asphalt industry professionals in December.
But as the crowd at the Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association (OHMPA) Fall Asphalt Seminar settled in to listen to Gencor’s Dennis Hunt discuss how technology has helped the industry to continuously improve the quality of the roads that traverse our communities, it became inherently clear that so much more still needed to be done.
For its part, OHMPA and its membership have come to realize that status quo is no longer good enough. Nor is it good enough to sit back and wait for an equipment manufacturer to provide a solution that fixes the problem. Instead, they have engaged their members, their associates and their stakeholders to figure out the next steps that need to be taken.
After all, we have listened to the constant complaints from government representatives and community leaders about the poor quality of one roadway or another. Sometimes those complaints are completely unjust as they fail to recognize the poor investment made in the original infrastructure, but on other occasions, their complaints are inherently justified.
So how do you build a better road? Well, thanks to the groundwork now done by OHMPA’s Quality of Asphalt Pavement Task Force, and complementary discussions had at the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), we might be getting closer to answering that question.
Formed in February of 2015, the task force has now gone through an internal audit with the help of members representing different facets of the industry, identified 13 possible solutions and now engaged government and community stakeholders to move the discussions forward. Three key areas of focus have emerged: asphalt cement quality and certification, increasing the AC content in Superpave mixes and the responsible use of recycled materials.
The MTO has developed a 13-point list of its own, this one resulting from discussions with industry stakeholders on increasing asphalt cement content in Superpave mixes. The list, broken down into solutions based on increasing asphalt cement, pavement permeability, use of recycled materials and mixing and compaction temperatures, also identify potential challenges for industry implementation.
But the result of the two lists, both from OHMPA and MTO, means a multi-faceted investigation that looks at the best solutions for improving pavement quality from both sides of the road construction spectrum. Rather than working at odds, or expecting one or the other to carry the workload, both are putting their best foot forward in order to try and create solutions. That spirit of cooperation certainly benefits both groups’ interests, but will ultimately better everyone using the province’s roads.
As both parties continue to work towards this common goal in 2016, the results will be beneficial for the entire country, not just Ontario. After all, some of the issues being addressed are as a result of pavement issues well north of the grandiose Greater Toronto Area, extending into the northern reaches of the province that are exposed to similar climate conditions as those in much of the rest of the country.
So as OHMPA and MTO work hard to produce some new solutions for better pavements, we’ll be sure to keep you all posted on their progress.
How do you build a better road? We may soon find out.