Executive Update: WAPA Conference Sneak Preview

As you likely already know, WAPA’s 56th Annual Conference and Business Meeting, to be held December 1 and 2 in Madison, is coming up quick. We have gone through your feedback and suggestions to put together an exciting lineup of speakers and topics once again this year. We hope that this will continue to be the asphalt event of the year in Wisconsin—the place where you can…

  • Connect with colleagues, customers, and vendors.
  • Learn about the latest and greatest products and technologies from presenters and exhibitors.
  • Hear from state and national industry, government, and academic experts.
  • Receive critical updates on what’s happening in the world of asphalt that affects your job and your bottom line.

For this Executive Update we hand-picked a few highlights from our packed agenda. If you still need to Register for the conference, or if you’re already signed up to attend, this preview will give you an idea of what attendees have to look forward to. We hope you enjoy the sneak peak, and we hope to see you all next month.

The new Wisconsin DOT asphalt bid requirements take effect in 2016. WAPA and WisDOT have been working hard to develop guidance materials and to get the word out before the changes go into effect.

Hopefully you have already seen the Asphalt Bid/Mix Specifications – Guidance and Web Tool on WAPA’s website and received email notices from us as well. WAPA has also taken to the streets this fall, visiting with users across the state to explain the new bid requirements and the support and resources aimed to ease the transition.

WAPA support and guidance will be a main focus of the conference as well.

Wisconsin Asphalt Bid/Mix Specifications Online Tool
  • On the first day of conference, WisDOT Chief Materials Engineer Barry Paye will give a general session presentation on the asphalt bid changes. He will provide an overview of the new specifications, a timeline on implementation, and guidance on how to proceed.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, WAPA Director of Engineering Deb Schwerman will provide more technical guidance on the specifications, including a walkthrough of the Online Tool developed by WAPA that generates WisDOT bid item numbers based on user inputs.

As with all other technical breakout sections, there will be two opportunities to hear this presentation over the course of three consecutive sessions.

On the topic of technical breakout sessions, for the past few years we have offered up to three professional development hours for these sessions. Many past year attendees asked for more PDH opportunities, and we’re happy to deliver.

In recognition of the technical nature of several of the general session topics, we’re pleased to offer PDHs to individuals who attend selected general sessions as well. In all, as many as seven PDHs can be earned during this year’s 2015 conference. We hope you find these additional opportunities beneficial.

On Tuesday morning of the conference, Craig Thompson will give a general session update on the Transportation Development Association (TDA) of Wisconsin and preview its new “Just Fix It” Statewide Engagement Effort.

The Just Fix It effort aims to deliver a compelling message. (Image courtesy of TDA of Wisconsin)
TDA of Wisconsin notes:

Wisconsin has had blue ribbon commission reports and studies that have clearly documented the need to increase state and local transportation investment simply to maintain the current level of service.

Yet, nothing has been done.

U.S. DOT Fact Sheets released in July of 2015 show Wisconsin road conditions rank the third worst in the nation – 71 percent are in “mediocre to poor” condition. …

Enough. Wisconsinites know what needs to be done. Some problems are truly perplexing to solve. … Fixing Wisconsin’s state and local roads and transit systems is not one of those.

And this is the idea behind TDA’s joint outreach: Just Fix It.

Thompson will talk more about the Just Fix It campaign and its launch in 2016. Partners in the effort include the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, CASE Construction Equipment, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin and others.

Research and innovation help drive the continuous improvement of asphalt pavement in our state, and the Wisconsin Highway Research Program (WHRP) directs WisDOT research through the joint efforts of government, academia, and industry.

Wednesday morning includes an update on WHRP from WisDOT Performance, Policy and Research Section Chief Lori Richter and WisDOT Innovation Officer David Esse. Of particular interest will be the WHRP 2016-2020 Strategic Plan published earlier this year and the program’s renewed emphasis on ensuring the timely implementation of research findings.

Richter and Esse will also highlight some of the completed and in-progress WHRP asphalt research projects making an impact on pavement design, construction, and evaluation in Wisconsin.

Researchers around the world have used the MnROAD facility and data. (Image courtesy of MnROAD)
One important component of asphalt pavement research is field data, and Wisconsin is fortunate to have a premiere pavement testing facility in its backyard. Wednesday morning also features an overview of Minnesota DOT’s MnROAD Pavement Test Track.

MnROAD Operations Engineer Ben Worel will provide an overview of the facility’s mission, capabilities, and projects. According to the MnROAD Program Brochure:

MnROAD, located near Albertville, Minnesota (40 miles northwest of the Twin Cities), is a cold region testing facility and laboratory operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and is unique to the world.

MnROAD consists of two road segments that are divided into over 50 test cells, each representing various combinations of road-building materials and designs:

  • Mainline (ML) 3.5-mile Interstate-94 roadway
  • Low Volume Road (LVR) 2.5-mile roadway that uses a controlled 5-axle semi tractor-trailer

We look forward to hearing about the latest MnROAD developments and possible partnership opportunities.

Heather Dylla unveils NAPA’s EPD Program. (Image courtesy of NAPA)
Heather Dylla, NAPA Director of Sustainable Engineering, joins Wednesday’s sessions with an update on NAPA’s Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Program. The goal of NAPA’s EPD Program is to provide comprehensive, credible, and comparable environmental data to develop EPDs. “EPDs published through the program will allow decision-makers to make informed comparisons among asphalt mixtures and ingredients with the goal of improving the environmental impact of pavements.”

The program made its debut at the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) XV conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in October. Dylla presented on the unique approach taken by the asphalt pavement industry to not only create an EPD program but to automate the process of delivering EPDs that are both economical and credible.

She brings that message to our conference and an audience engaged in sustainability issues. WAPA members serve on national sustainability committees, including NAPA’s Sustainability Task Force. Moreover, as an association we’re commitment to ensuring that asphalt remains the sustainable pavement choice, and support of NAPA’s EPD program is an excellent example of how we’re doing that.

That’s just a portion of what’s in store—be sure to check the Full Agenda to see what else we have planned. This promises to be a program you won’t want to miss.

We’d like to thank in advance all of our presenters, exhibitors and sponsors for their efforts in making this a valuable event—this program wouldn’t be possible without your participation and generous support. We are also grateful to our members, their customers, and all conference participants for their work every day in advancing asphalt pavement and transportation in Wisconsin.

Finally, Deb and I have seen many of you throughout the year but we really look forward to touching base with you one-on-one at the conference.

As the conference approaches, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if there is ever any way we may be of assistance.

That’s it for now. Thanks and we’ll see you soon.

Brandon Strand
Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association