This Executive Update features the WAPA 2021 Annual Conference, including general session highlights and details on the technical sessions and award winners, as well as the fall webinar series recordings.
Overview and General Sessions
WAPA's 62nd annual conference, which concluded earlier this month, turned out to be a really special event for our industry. After all the Zoom meetings and virtual webinars, it was great to finally gather again in person and celebrate the end of another successful construction season together. The dialogue and networking that happens at the WAPA conference shows how healthy and connected we are as an asphalt community. We want to thank all the exhibitors, sponsors, presenters and attendees for your continued involvement and support of the association. This kind of active engagement is what makes our conference the asphalt event of the year in Wisconsin.

General Sessions

As noted in the Full Conference Program, both Tuesday and Wednesday morning featured general sessions focused on policy, funding and government updates, as well as research and innovation. Presentations are available on the 2021 Conference Page.

We were honored to have Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers kick off the conference with a welcome address highlighting the importance of investing in building and maintaining our infrastructure network and keeping his campaign promise to "fix the damn roads." The Governor has signed millions of dollars of new spending on road construction into state law for the first time in decades, and his opening comments set the stage for the main topic of conversation throughout the meeting: historic investment for transportation infrastructure.

The new $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was the key issue of discussion for the duration of the general session. This once-in-a-generation, bipartisan transportation bill is the most significant revenue increase in our nation's infrastructure since the development of the interstate system. Wisconsin will see a 33 percent funding increase in transportation investment over five years that will create hundreds of good, family-supporting jobs that can't be outsourced, and will help our economy bounce back from the pandemic. It really cannot be overstate enough how monumental this is for our industry. We're incredibly thankful for the hard work and efforts of so many people who advocated for this legislation because it will significantly improve the highway system for years to come.

Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson continued the discourse on infrastructure funding by emphasizing the importance of partnerships between the agency and WAPA to deliver a transportation program that works for everyone in the state. Jay Hansen joined us from the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) to break down what the bill means for the asphalt market, and Glenn Fulkerson from the Federal Highway Administration provided additional details and information on the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Along with the upsides of this extraordinary level of funding come several challenges that we addressed at the conference as well. Ester Magorka from NAPA called attention to workforce development, work zone safety and environmental sustainability initiatives in her presentation, concluding with an emphasis on member engagement. The advocacy theme was carried over and echoed throughout the Transportation Development Association update from Debby Jackson. Grassroots organizing and focus on industry priorities will be critical to ensuring there is continued long-term investment in Wisconsin's infrastructure.

Randy West of the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) gave an overview of the training and education offered at Auburn University, including the NCAT Test Track. Known as America's Asphalt Pavement Proving Ground, the test track offers turnkey research on test sections that are evaluated continuously over three-year cycles. Throughout its history, NCAT has led the way on innovation to ensure asphalt pavement performance and continued implementable research are critical to our success.

The audience was also introduced to Steve Baas, the new executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association (WTBA). As many of you already know, Pat Goss retired from WTBA this fall after more than 14 years. Prior to his tenure at WTBA, Pat served as WAPA's Executive Director from 2003-2007. Pat couldn't be with us to pass the torch, but we heard first-hand the knowledge and expertise that Steve will use to lead WTBA forward.

Lastly, Mike Kertscher from Road America gave a fascinating presentation on the 640-acre facility in Elkhart Lake, also known as America's "National Park of Speed." The 4.2-mile asphalt race track is the new home for NASCAR's 4th of July race and showcases our product in a new and unique way.

Asphalt's versatility was similarly showcased during our technical breakout sessions.
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.

Presentations are also available on the 2021 Conference Page.
Reclaimed Asphalt Pavements
Deb Schwerman, Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association
RAP is the term given to removed and/or reprocessed pavement materials containing asphalt and aggregates. These materials are generated when asphalt pavements are removed for reconstruction, resurfacing or to obtain access to buried utilities. When properly crushed and screened, RAP consists of high-quality, well-graded aggregates coated by asphalt cement. This session provided the latest data and information and answered questions that are commonly asked about the topic.

Airport Pavement Workshop
Mark Blow, Asphalt Institute
This session provides the most up-to-date information for those designing, constructing and managing asphalt airport pavements. Focus is on current Federal Aviation Administration and other applicable industry standards, including specifications, advisory circulars, criteria and policy. Topics included pavement design and evaluation, materials, mix design, construction, preservation and rehabilitation practices, along with innovative pavement technologies for airports. 

Agricultural Asphalt
Andy Skwor, MSA Professional Services
The goal of a successful stock or dairy farm is to maximize production under the most sanitary conditions at the least cost. Paving cattle pens, feed lots, silage platforms, and bunk and stack silos with asphalt has proven to be a good way to achieve this goal. This session highlighted the versatility of agricultural asphalt applications and discussed the appropriate selection of materials by following recommended design and construction practices that illustrate why asphalt farm installations will provide many years of service. 

Asphalt Sport Court Applications
Deb Schwerman, Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association
This session educated owners, contractors, design professionals, and suppliers in the design and installation of asphalt for athletic purposes. Because of the wide variation in construction methods, site conditions and materials availability, asphalt is the preferred material for multiple sport courts applications. While the playing surface materials may be different, the construction process for all courts generally involves the same steps and this session provided information on many different types of asphalt athletic facilities.

Ethics Training
Jodi Jensen, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association
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.”

Asphalt Facts
Ester Magorka, National Asphalt Pavement Association
Asphalt pavements have many advantages over pavement surfaces constructed using other materials. 94% of the roads in America are surfaced with asphalt, and it’s no surprise why. Asphalt pavements are safe, smooth, cost-effective, quiet, traveler- and business-friendly, environmentally sustainable, attractive and durable. This session helped attendees better understand the benefits of asphalt pavements and provided research, best practices and recommendations to negate false and misleading claims by other industries.

Award Winners
The 2021 Awards and Scholarship 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 two categories: State (WisDOT Region or Office) and Local (City, County, Town, or Village).

Congratulations to the 2021 winners!

We will be using an open nomination form again in 2022. Check back next year for details.

WAPA Scholarships
WAPA was able to grant two awards in our Student Scholarship program for 2021. 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:

  • Engineering Scholarship - $2,000 award for a student in a four-year civil engineer or construction engineering program:
  • Kyle Ignasiak - Milwaukee School of Engineering

  • Engineering Technician Scholarship - $1,000 award for an engineering technology student enrolled in a technical college:
  • Samuel Hebel - Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

We are pleased to announce that we will again award student scholarships in fall of 2022.
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. Two individuals and one team were honored with 2021 Quality Management Program Awards at the WAPA conference.

  • Individual Awards
  • Michael Biersack, Iverson Construction
  • Elizabeth Reis, CORRE, Inc.

  • Team Award
  • Waukesha MTC Staff and Gregory Mamerow, Danny Richer and Roy (Sharmar) Edmondson, Payne + Dolan
Environmental Leadership Awards

For more than 20 years, WAPA's Environmental Leadership Awards program has recognized asphalt plants that go above and beyond Wisconsin's already high environmental standards. 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.

13 plants won renewal awards this year, and three more received an award for the very first time:

  • 2021 Renewal Awards -- Permanent Plants
  • 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 57 (Eden)
  • Payne + Dolan Control 6 (Vienna)
  • Payne + Dolan Control 10 (La Grange)
  • Payne + Dolan Control 15 (Jackson)

  • 2021 Renewal Awards -- Portable Plants
  • Mathy Construction Company Plant 52
  • Mathy Construction Company Plant 92
  • Monarch Paving Company Plant 20
  • Northwoods Paving Plant 67

  • 2021 New Awards -- Permanent Plants
  • Monarch Paving Company Plant 59 (New Richmond)
  • Wolf Paving (Genesee)
  • Wolf Paving (Sun Prairie)

The Environmental Leadership Program would not be possible without the cooperation of the environmental compliance staff at our member companies: Jim Mertes with the Walbec Group; Tara Wetzel with Mathy Construction; Gus Small with Rock Road Companies, Inc.; and Matt Groehler with Wolf Paving. We appreciate their help in scheduling plant inspections and making sure everything goes smoothly.

Finally, our thanks go out to Tom Stibbe and Marty Burkholder, formerly with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who have both worked with us over the years to conduct the inspections. We are fortunate to have Tom and Marty on our team putting in this effort throughout the year.
Webinar Series Recordings
Lastly, we offered a free webinar series designed to supplement our in-person annual meeting. We provided new content on a variety of topics every week leading up to the conference and wanted to share these presentations so you have all of the latest information we offered to members and customers this fall. Please find the session descriptions below with links to the video recordings.
2021 Asphalt Pavement Technical Update
Steve Hefel and Dan Kopacz, WisDOT Bureau of Technical Services
In collaboration with industry representatives, WisDOT develops best practices to ensure pavement performance by specification revisions and implementing innovations through research and partnerships. In this webinar, there is an emphasis on continued communication with stakeholders to improve the quality of asphalt pavements to deliver a quality transportation system that is essential for public safety and economic prosperity.

Asphalt Pavement Resilience
Dr. Ben Bowers, Auburn University
Resilience is a growing concern in the transportation infrastructure community. Recent federal guidance encourages states to include resilience in their transportation asset management plans as many communities are experiencing a higher frequency of severe weather events and other changes to climatic conditions that can affect pavements. Although not traditionally viewed through the lens of resilience, asphalt pavements have numerous resilient attributes and are a critical resource to maintain a community’s transportation system.
Principles of Milling
Austin Miller, BOMAG Americas, Inc.
Milling is the removal of often distressed asphalt mixtures from a pavement structure. While some just see milling as the process of generating reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that can be used in future projects, milling can also positively or negatively impact the quality of rehabilitation efforts.

Designing a Perpetual Pavement
Dr. Dave Newcomb, Texas A&M University
This webinar discusses material selection and mixture design to optimize Perpetual Pavement performance, offers current perpetual design practices, and presents best practices for construction of high-quality, high-performance pavements.
See You in 2022!
Please watch our website for details about our 63rd annual conference in 2022.

On behalf of WAPA (Deb Schwerman and myself, our president Carl Johnson, 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,