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‘Quality of asphalt’ sessions held with government officials

Dan O'Reilly
‘Quality of asphalt’ sessions held with government officials

After embarking on the largest study of its kind in its 90-year-plus history, Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) and Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council (OAPC) representatives are meeting with their counterparts at the provincial and municipal level in what is being described as “Quality of Asphalt Partnering Sessions.”

A facilitated workshop with Ministry of Transportation officials was held in early December and a second one with the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) — which represents more than 400 municipalities — will be held sometime in late winter or early spring, says OAPC chairman Kevin Martin.

The origin of the workshops is the association’s Quality of Asphalt study, which was launched in response to critical comments about premature cracking made in a 2016 auditor general’s report.

Completed last August, the study had a number of objectives including ensuring ORBA and OAPC understood owners’ and their members’ concerns about asphalt quality issues.

At the OAPC’s recent fall seminar, Martin summarized the results of the study while providing attendees with a preview of the workshops, their purpose and results.

The overall objective is to provide high quality asphalt across Ontario and to develop a constructive long-term relationship with the ministry “to deliver the best outcomes,” he told the audience of more than 400.

Market performance, research, specification development and procurement plus the need for long term planning will be some discussion points, while managing conflicts of interest and dealing with issues between the ministry and the association will be some of the hoped-for outcomes, he said.

“A similar engagement process will be developed with the OGRA,” he added.

In a short interview following the seminar Martin said no date had yet been set scheduled for the workshop with the OGRA.

As both associations will be preoccupied with planning for their respective 2019 conferences, the meeting might, “not be held until late February or even March,” he said.

Martin’s presentation came at about the halfway point of a full seminar agenda where the audience heard about other outreach activities, notably an effort to harmonize hot mix asphalt specifications.

“Why harmonize specifications?” asked OAPC’s new technical director, Doubra Ambaiowei, who then went on to explain the reason.

Hot mix asphalt is generally specified in accordance with the Ontario Provincial Standard Specification. However, there are different variations of those specifications, either through special provisions or specific municipal ones, and that is becoming a concern to government and industry stakeholders, he said.

As a first step towards consistency and uniformity, the council initiated a project last August to review how hot mix asphalt is specified in Ontario.

At this point the study has been focused on southern Ontario.

“Not much has been done in northern Ontario,” Ambaiowei said.

Much of the study has been conducted from the ORBA/OAPC Mississauga office. However, Ambaiowei intends to meet with various municipal specifiers in the next few months to explain the project and obtain their input.

“We need to do this (harmonization) in unison,” he added.

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