Rock to Road

Preserving Pavements

PPRA event looks at best practices for servicing roads in Canada

November 30, 2015  By  Andrew Macklin

Asset management is essential for government transportation departments, and a strong pavement preservation program is a vital component of that plan.

The Pavement Preservation and Recycling Alliance is a co-operative body that involves the Asphalt Emulsions Manufacturers Alliance (AEMA), the International Slurry Surfacing Association (ISSA) and the Asphalt Recycling and Reclamation Association (ARRA). The organizations have held joint meetings in the past, but the formation of the PPRA provides a stronger unified approach to stakeholder interests previously promoted individually by the associations.

At the PPRA fall meeting in Niagara Falls, government officials from across Canada and the United States discussed the preservation techniques being used in their municipalities, along with the successes and failures associated with their use.

One of those techniques is the use of a Stress Absorbing Membrane Interlayer (SAMI), a non-woven polypropylene fabric that is proving to reduce reflective cracking in asphalt pavements. Antoine Boucher, director of public works and engineering for the Municipality of East Ferris in northeastern Ontario, discussed how the use of a SAMI on a six-kilometre project in the region had resulted in almost no reflective cracking over the course of two winters. Previously, the same stretch of road had seen severe cracking issues following previous rehabilitations.


For Terry McCann, who is the director of public works for Lanark County west of Ottawa, the use of pavement preservation techniques is now based on specific road conditions rather than a universal approach to all roads. In total, McCann and his team commit annual funds to eight different pavement preservation techniques: crack sealing, reclamite, FibreMat, micro resurfacing, seal coats, surface treatment resurfacing, hot mix resurfacing and paved shoulers. Each technique is used in very specific situations to help extend the life of the roadway.

And extending the life of a roadway, using pavement preservation techniques, results in a significant cost savings. According to Allan Mayhew of McAsphalt Industries, two dollars spent on pavement preservation when the road is in good condition would translate to six-to-eight dollars spent when the same road is in poor condition. Mayhew suggested that spending on pavement preservation declined from 2008 to 2013. That’s a real concern for the health of our roads, as is a recent cut to the Government of Alberta’s crack sealing budget.

With budgets tightening at all levels of government, sharing ideas on pavement preservation at events like the PPRA 2015 fall meeting helps officials make the most of every dollar as they work diligently to keep the roads smooth and the drivers happy.

The 2016 AEMA-AARA-ISSA annual meeting will take place February 23-26 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Fla. For more information, visit

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