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Road Building Academy offers unique new paving inspector course

Angela Gismondi
Road Building Academy offers unique new paving inspector course

A new paving inspector course being offered at the Ontario Road Builders’ Association’s (ORBA) 13th annual Road Building Academy in February aims to provide fundamental and up-to-date information on how to deliver a quality asphalt pavement product.

“At the end of the day, there are a lot of issues in the industry right now on how do we get asphalt pavements to last longer,” explained Amma Wakefield, Canadian Regional Engineer for the Asphalt Institute (AI), who will be instructing the course.

“The bottom line is both the contractor and the owner want the same thing…and this course does a really good job of getting back to the basics of how to pave, from beginning to end, and how to deliver a quality product. It hasn’t changed since the beginning — technology has advanced, and knowledge has improved.”

ORBA is partnering with AI to offer the two-day course Feb. 25 to 26, 2020 at the BMO Institute for Learning in Scarborough, Ont. To date, the course has only been available in the U.S.


Some of those things, if you don’t catch them right when the paving is going on, you can’t fix the problem later

— Amma Wakefield

Asphalt Institute


“This partnership with the Asphalt Institute is strategic and very important because inspection is a key area requiring improvements in the production and placement of asphalt pavements,” explained Doubra Ambaiowei, technical director, ORBA.

“We identified the Asphalt Institute because they have 100 years of experience dealing with asphalt pavement. They also offer a lot of training programs to improve the quality of the personnel in the industry in terms of the knowledge of the technology and knowledge of construction practices.”

Wakefield said there is a gap in the asphalt industry right now with a lot of mature, experienced staff retiring and a lot of new engineers coming in to fill those roles.

“They don’t have the knowledge and experience to be able to identify certain things like what to look for when you go to the jobsite, what to look for when you go to an asphalt plant, how to identify quality issues that will become pavement stresses in the future,” said Wakefield. “Some of those things, if you don’t catch them right when the paving is going on, you can’t fix the problem later on.”

The course stemmed from the 2016 Auditor General’s report which identified premature cracking asphalt on roadways throughout Ontario. ORBA and the Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council completed an internal review of contributory factors and identified a lack of training in some cases and, in other cases, the aging-expertise leaving the industry in addition to other technical and material factors, Ambaiowei noted.

“In order to close the gap in training deficiencies, ORBA’s education committee thought it was wise to look for various training opportunities that could be developed in order to improve the state of the practice in the industry, especially the critical aspects of the construction process beginning from the design stage through to the production and placement of the roadway, and everything in between,” he said.

The course is geared towards inspectors who work for the owner, specifically municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation, but Wakefield said paving staff, contractors and engineers can benefit from the course as well.

“In the industry itself, contractors have quality control staff that do the job of an inspector even though they don’t have that title and those people work with the owner’s inspectors and they have to know the same thing,” Wakefield noted. “Anyone taking this course will really be getting the most up-to-date information on how to construct a quality pavement. Taking this course is beneficial for the owners because they can be ahead in terms of getting the best product when they request it from the contractor. The contractors can benefit from this course because they can know how to deliver the best product.”

Eight modules will be presented over the two days. Topics covered include what the inspector’s role is in the asphalt paving process; background on material properties; the basics of asphalt plants and how to identify certain issues during production at the asphalt plant; transportation and delivery of the material to the jobsite; ensuring the material is being placed properly; compaction; and quality assurance testing.

“We (The Asphalt Institute) have a new manual coming out that is called the MS-22, Constructing Quality Asphalt Pavements,” said Wakefield. “The chapters in this book are going to supplement a lot of the topics that we are going to be teaching in this course and each participant will get a copy of this book.”

Compaction is one of the most important topics covered in the course.

“Compaction operation is critical to obtain the proper in-place air void content at the time of construction,” said Ambaiowei. “This phase is perhaps the most important in the art and science of road construction. Premature cracking is certain to occur if compaction is not done right.”

ORBA Road Building Academy 2020 will be held Feb. 24 to 28. The academy program  features 25 courses, including 11 new courses covering management and leadership; business and professional; technical and safety and law and legal matters relevant to the road building industry.


Follow Angela Gismondi on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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