Executive Update: 2016 WAPA Conference Highlights

In this Executive Update we highlight the WAPA 2016 Annual Conference, including the big takeaways and details on the technical sessions and award winners.

Another WAPA Annual Conference is in the books, and Presentations are now online. I’d like to again thank everyone who helped make the event successful.

The 2016 Annual WAPA Conference held in November marks my fourth while serving as WAPA’s Executive Director, and I’ve witnessed some noteworthy trends over that time. From 2013 to 2016:

  • Conference attendance went up 33 percent.
  • Sponsorship dollars have increased 30 percent.
  • Exhibitors have grown by 40 percent.

These figures all point to the fact that interest and engagement is increasing among all parties involved in asphalt in our state. We have a vibrant industry community in Wisconsin that is committed to coming together—and working together—to deliver outstanding pavements.

This year we were honored to be joined by Kevin Kelly, the chair of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). While speaking at our conference, Kelly remarked on what we have noted before in these Executive Updates: the strong partnerships and cooperation between public agencies and private companies in Wisconsin. Kelly also commended Wisconsin’s asphalt industry for leading by example to improve the quality and performance of our pavements, a common vision shared with NAPA.

By working in concert, WisDOT and industry have made possible many of the pilot programs and technical advances outlined in Dewayne Johnson‘s WisDOT Update and Barry Paye‘s Asphalt Specification Update. Similar partnerships can be seen throughout the state at the county and municipal level as well.

The conference general session included a check-in at all levels of government, from FHWA (by Michael Davies) down to a Wisconsin Towns Association Update (by Mike Koles). These were rounded out by perspectives on transportation funding (by Eric Petersen, Wimmer & Company), asphalt markets (by Nasreen Tasker, Argus Media), and an Update on the Asphalt Pavement Alliance and its advocacy efforts (by Dan Staebell).

As detailed in the articles below, attendees found the Technical Sessions extremely valuable as well, and our Awards Luncheon was warmly received.

As a final reminder going into January, we invite attendees to complete the short post-conference survey emailed earlier this month. This feedback gives us a chance to make improvements every year and keep us on an upward trajectory into 2017 and beyond.

During the conference, we offered six Technical Breakout Sessions over the course of three time slots, affording attendees additional professional development and a chance to dig deeper into technical topics of interest. Where possible, we gave opportunities to individuals recognized through the Innovation Awards (see the next article) to highlight their work during these technical sessions.

Asphalt Binder Modification
Geoffrey Rowe, Abatech Inc. — presentation

This session covered different modification types, processes, benefits, concerns, and applications that are currently being utilized across the country and addressed when engineers should consider incorporating modification technology into their projects.

Enhanced Durability and Increased Density
Steve Hefel, Wisconsin DOT — presentation
Dave Johnson, Asphalt Institute — presentation

This session featured details of FHWA’s 2016 Enhanced Durability and Increased Density demonstration projects constructed throughout the country as well as Wisconsin’s own project on STH 21. The session covered the importance of in-place density and its effect on pavement durability, longevity, and increased performance.

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 or regulations. This course was designed to help participants meet the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers’ requirements for continuing education in the area of professional conduct and ethics.

Innovative Paving Programs at the Local Level

Jerid Baranczyk, Iverson Construction — presentation
Howard Crofoot, City of Platteville — presentation
Todd Hughes, Payne & Dolan — presentation
Ghassan Korban, City of Milwaukee — presentation

This multi-part session highlighted the innovative paving programs that the City of Milwaukee and the City of Platteville have used to extend pavement life, improve ride quality, remove distresses, and increase pavement structure. It featured both owner and producer perspectives.

Longitudinal Joint Construction
Mark Blow, Asphalt Institute — presentation
Signe Reichelt, Behnke Materials Engineering — presentation

This session highlighted the importance of a properly constructed longitudinal joint, construction best practices, and the local implementation activity to improve the performance of the longitudinal joints in Wisconsin. Presenters provided the national perspective as well as specific density data details and paving techniques from a recently completed Wisconsin Highway Research Program study.

Practices of Peak Performing Plants
Steve Elam, Stansteel/Hotmix Parts

This session discussed how to use many of the tried and proven “old school” methods of plant operations while incorporating new technologies and methods to increase plant efficiency and productivity. Discussion included how plants are coping with the increasing varieties of mix designs and increased recycled materials while producing high quality mixes, operating safely, and maintaining profitability.

The 2016 Annual WAPA Conference saw the return of WAPA’s Awards Luncheon, which honored leadership, innovation, and initiative in asphalt design and delivery in Wisconsin.

We hope that the examples set by the award winners will inspire all members of our state’s asphalt community to continue to go above and beyond, delivering the best product and service year after year.

Innovation Awards

WAPA’s Innovation Award Program was created to recognize technological advancements and innovations in asphalt pavements for three categories: State (WisDOT Region or Project), Local (City, County, Town, or Village), and Business (Commercial Business or Project). In this first year of the program, WAPA bestowed four awards to five recipients.

Starting in 2017 WAPA will be accepting nominations for these awards. Check back next year for more details about how to submit a nomination.

WAPA Scholarship

Through our 2016 Student Scholarship Program, WAPA awarded scholarships to two outstanding Wisconsin college students among many worthy applicants. These awards recognize students in the state who are excelling in their academic pursuit of a career in the transportation construction industry.

    $2,000 award, for students in a four-year civil engineer or construction engineering program


    Esther Baas, Marquette University
    $1,000 award, for engineering technology students enrolled in a technical college


    Brett Novak, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

We’re pleased to announce that we will again award two student scholarships in fall of 2017. Thanks again to WAPA members for their continued endowment of the scholarship.

Environmental Leadership Awards

2016 marked the 17th 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. Four plants won renewal awards in 2016, and another won a first-time award this year.

    Northeast Asphalt Control 67 (Glenmore)
    Payne & Dolan Control 5, (Fitchburg)
    Northwoods Paving Plant 67 (Cable)
    Northeast Asphalt Control 26 (Kiel)
    Mathy Construction Company Plant 92 (Black River Falls)

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 2016 winners at the WAPA conference as well.

On behalf of WAPA (Deb Schwerman and myself, our president Brian Endres, 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,

Brandon Strand
Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association