This Executive Update features the WAPA 2017 Annual Conference, including general session highlights and details on the technical sessions and award winners.

Overview and General Sessions

November marked another successful WAPA conference in Madison. As usual, the event was a great opportunity for all members of Wisconsin's asphalt community to come together. It was great to see a lot of new faces in attendance and catch up with so many familiar members and customers as well. Attendees, together with presenters and sponsors, are critical to the ongoing vitality of the WAPA annual meeting. Whichever of those groups you fall into, we thank you for joining us and hope you had an enjoyable experience.

Mission, Vision, Values and Goals

At the start of the meeting, the WAPA board approved an updated Mission, Vision, Values and Goals statement to match the current direction of our industry and define how WAPA and its members can best meet customer needs.

Indeed, the conference program worked toward meeting all four of WAPA's stated goals as an organization, with many sessions touching on more than one of these pillars:
  • Communicating the benefits of asphalt
  • Education and outreach
  • Partnerships
  • Advocacy
General Sessions

As noted in the Full Conference Program and detailed in the presentations (all are available on the Conference Page), Tuesday morning of general sessions focused on policy, funding and government updates, and Wednesday keyed in on innovation and technology. Both mornings included topics of immediate interest to attendees.

On Tuesday, participants were eager to hear the update from Joe Nestler on WisDOT's new asset management program (formerly called Theme X'). The program will shift WisDOT away from prioritizing the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the state's worst pavements to instead focus on the right treatment at the right time to do the most good. WAPA supports the state's new approach to make targeted use of limited funds; the program will be phased in over the next several years. Tuesday morning also featured a NAPA update from Dan Gallagher and a funding/legislative update from Eric Petersen with Wimmer & Co.

On Wednesday, as previewed in our August 2017 Executive Update, Bill Vavrik with ARA joined us to provide details on Illinois Tollway's story and its successes with innovative asphalt projects technologies. Also featured on Wednesday were updates from the nation's two major asphalt research facilities: the National Road Research Alliance/MnROAD in Minnesota and the National Center for Asphalt Technology in Alabama.

In both of the morning sessions we aimed to look at some big-picture topics as well. A Tuesday presentation by Anirban Basu of Sage Policy Group on the economic outlook of the construction industry offered a long-term, global market view that opened eyes and got people talking. On Wednesday, Peter Rafferty with the UW TOPS Lab and Steve Caya from Roadview gave an update on autonomous vehicles . It's clear that this rapidly-evolving technology will have a major impact on how roads are built and how our industry does business.

WAPA hopes these varied presentations provided something for everyone and offered useful information and fresh ideas for the coming year.

Technical Sessions

During the conference, we offered six Technical Breakout Sessions over the course of three time slots. As in past years, WAPA was pleased to provide professional development hours to participants.

A special feature for the 2017 breakouts was a "back to basics" theme for three of the six sessions. These helped lay out fundamentals for individuals new to selected technical aspects of asphalt while providing a refresher and update for those with experience in the field.

All presentations are available on the 2017 Conference Page.

Sub-Base Stabilization
Dave Crowley, Uretek USA - presentation
Brian Francis, Elsey Group Inc. - presentation
Doug Zuberer, Zydex Industries - presentation

Soil stabilization with the addition of various additives can be effective in the construction and life of a pavement structure. In this session, construction sequences and methods suitable for soil stabilization operations were discussed. The presentation featured a step-by-step procedure for using soil stabilization as well and guidance on how to select the type and amount of a stabilizer to use with specific soil types.

Warm-Mix Asphalt
Craig Reynolds, Ingevity - presentation

Warm-mix asphalt is the generic name for technologies that allow producers to lower the temperatures at which the asphalt material is mixed and placed on the road. This session detailed the engineering and construction benefits of warm-mix asphalt including better compaction of pavements; the ability to pave at lower temperatures; and cutting fuel consumption and decreasing the production of greenhouse gases.

Back to Basics: Asphalt Binder
Dan Swiertz, Bitumix Solutions, a Division of H.G. Meigs - presentation

Asphalt binder is the glue that holds a mixture together. Choosing the right type of binder is critical for long-term performance of pavements. This session looked at the properties of asphalt binder; how binder is produced; and how to choose the right binder--including modified binders--for the job.

Back to Basics: Volumetrics in Asphalt Mixtures
Paul Eggen, OMNNI Associates - presentation

Knowledge of volumetric properties is important in understanding how an asphalt mixture will perform. Asphalt technologists commonly toss around terms like VMA, VFA, and bulk specific gravity, but not everyone understands what these represent. This session provided information and examples to "demystify" asphalt mixture volumetrics and explained how volumetric properties interact.

Back to Basics: Work Zone Safety
Andrea Bill, UW-Madison Transportation Information Center - presentation

Road construction and work zones can be hazardous not only for drivers, but for workers on the job site. Reducing disruptions to traffic flow can minimize liabilities and prevent accidents. This session provided information on how to meet Wisconsin requirements for work zone traffic control, improving the safety of workers and all road users.

Ethics Training
Jeff Russell, UW-Madison - presentation

Back by popular demand, this session focused on the fundamental canons of professional conduct and other appropriate administrative rules and regulations. The discussion was designed to demonstrate a working knowledge of professional ethics and satisfy the requirement for "professional conduct and ethics."


Award Winners

The conference Awards Luncheon gave WAPA the opportunity to recognize leadership, innovation, and initiative in asphalt design and delivery.
We hope that the examples set by the award winners will continue to inspire all members of Wisconsin's asphalt community to continue to go above and beyond, delivering the best product and service year after year.

Innovation Awards

WAPA's Innovation Awards recognize technological advancements and innovations in asphalt pavements for three categories: State (WisDOT Region or Office), Local (City, County, Town, or Village), and Business (Commercial Business or Association).

In 2017, WAPA moved from an informal nomination process to an online submission form. This move gave everyone in our state a chance to voice their thoughts on who deserved recognition, and it gave us an outstanding selection pool.

Congratulations to the 2017 winners!
We will be using a similar open nomination form in 2018. Check back next year for details.

WAPA Scholarships

Through special contributions from our member companies this year, WAPA was able to grant four awards in our Student Scholarship Program for 2017. We thank our members for their generosity in making these awards possible.

Among many worthy college student applicants, WAPA recognized the following students who are excelling in their academic pursuit of a career in the transportation construction industry:
    $2,000 award each, for students in a four-year civil engineer or construction engineering program

    Sierra Huhnke, University of Wisconsin
    Reid Jahns, Milwaukee School of Engineering
    $1,000 award each, for engineering technology students enrolled in a technical college

    Skyler Adamski, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
    Johnathan Anderson, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
We are pleased to announce that we will again award student scholarships in fall of 2018. 

Environmental Leadership Awards

2017 marked the 18th year of WAPA's Environmental Leadership Award program. To earn this award, a permanent or portable asphalt plant must achieve the highest ratings in community and environmental excellence via a rigorous, independent inspection of their facilities.

Twelve plants won renewal awards this year, and four more won first-time awards.

    Mathy Construction Company Plant 86 (La Crosse)
    Monarch Paving Company Plant 26 (Menomonie)
    Monarch Paving Company Plant 87 (Eau Claire)
    Northeast Asphalt Control 30 (Shawano)
    Northeast Asphalt Control 35 (Sturgeon Bay)
    Northeast Asphalt Control 51 (Sheboygan Falls)
    Northeast Asphalt Control 57 (Eden)
    Payne & Dolan Control 6 (Vienna)
    Payne & Dolan Control 15 (Jackson)


    Mathy Construction Company Plant 24
    Mathy Construction Company Plant 52
    Monarch Paving Company Plant 20


    Payne & Dolan Control 10
    (La Grange)
    Payne & Dolan Control 11 (Rugby)

    Payne & Dolan Control 29
    (Honey Creek)
    Payne & Dolan Control 33 (Stoughton)
The Environmental Leadership Awards would not be possible without the cooperation of the environmental compliance staff at our member companies: Jim Mertes and Chloe Soik from the Walbec Group; Tara Wetzel and Beth Stuhr with Mathy Construction; and Ryan Spies with Rock Road Companies. We appreciate their help in scheduling plant inspections and making sure everything goes smoothly.

Finally, our thanks go out to Tom Stibbe, formerly with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who works with us to conduct the inspections. We are fortunate to have Tom on our team putting in this effort throughout the year.

Quality Management Program Award

The Quality Management Program Award recognizes outstanding certified highway materials technicians who have displayed exceptional leadership roles in developing quality materials used in highway construction projects. The award was presented in conjunction with UW-Platteville's Highway Technician Certification Program. HTCP staff recognized 2017 winners at the WAPA conference as well.

 See You in 2018!

On behalf of WAPA (Deb Schwerman and myself, our president Dustin Gradel, our board of directors, and all members), let me offer one final thanks to everyone and wish you all a safe and joyous holiday season and new year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,