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Wakefield receives Bleeds Black Award, CAA Worst Roads at OAPC fall seminar

Dan O'Reilly
Wakefield receives Bleeds Black Award, CAA Worst Roads at OAPC fall seminar

A prestigious award for an industry expert, an appeal for more asphalt plants to become environmental stewards, reviews of ongoing programs, and an inside look into the worst roads campaign highlighted the Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council’s (OAPC) recent fall seminar.

Like last year’s event, it was delivered in a virtual format because of the pandemic.

The seminar is an opportunity to focus on trends, issues and OAPC initiatives, plus honour individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry through its Bleeds Black Award.

Presented annually at the fall seminar, the award recognizes industry members who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and passion to the continuous improvement of asphalt throughout their careers.

The 2021 recipient is Amma Wakefield, the Asphalt Institute’s first full-time Canadian regional engineer.

Wakefield has worked in product development, testing and research positions with a number of construction industry companies such as Lafarge, The Miller Group and Aecon.

She recently defended her PhD thesis with her research focused on improving the durability of the roadway material at McMaster University under the direction of Dr. Susan Tighe. A recipient of the award herself, Tighe presented the award through YouTube.

In other award categories, four asphalt plants received the 2021 Trillium Awards and 13 plants were recertified. Implemented in 2002 and based on rigorous criteria, the awards recognize asphalt plants that adhere to high operational standards such as appearance, safety and environmental measures. They are granted for a three-year period, at which point the plant must apply for recertification.

The new award winners are Gazzola Paving Ltd. for its plant on Attwell Drive in Toronto; Asphalt and Aggregate Limited for its Garson Coniston plant in Greater Sudbury; Steed and Evans Limited for both its Cambridge Asphalt Supply Inc. in Cambridge and its St. Jacobs plant.

“Our industry is way ahead of the (environmental) curve,” said OAPC’s plant and paving committee chair and award presenter Mike Deckert, noting that 90 plants have earned Trillium Awards and 132 have been recertified since the program’s inception.

An insight into less laudatory awards was provided by the Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) assistant vice-president of government and community relations Teresa Di Felice. Her topic was CAA’s Worst Roads Campaign.

Launched each spring, the campaign provides a platform for all Ontario road users, including motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders, to nominate roads within their community in need of improvements.

“It gives them a voice,” said Di Felice, explaining the general public might not know a lot about the complexities of road construction, but they do recognize the importance of maintaining good roads.

“From congestion, potholes, poor road signs and the timing of traffic lights to pedestrian and cycling safety, everyone is affected by the quality of our roadways.”

Votes submitted to the campaign are compiled and released as an annual provincial Top 10 list along with a series of regional lists, “all designed to spark a dialogue with government and help pave the way for safer roads across Ontario.”

After the lists are compiled, they are submitted to the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) for technical assessments, she said.

“We (the CAA) really appreciate ORBA’s perspective.”

The lists provide provincial and municipal decision-makers with an important citizen perspective on which roadway repairs need to be expedited and key priorities for infrastructure funding and investment moving forward, she pointed out.

Also on the seminar agenda was a synopsis of the activities and initiatives of the Ontario Asphalt Expert Task Force Group by its chair Sina Varamini, who is McAsphalt Industries Ltd.’s research and development manager.

Established in 2020, the task force is a research and advisory committee that studies and provides recommendations on subjects such as improving binder and mixture specifications and testing methods. It also contributes and provides input into the Asphalt Technical Symposium, a broad based coalition of representatives from the OAPC, the Ministry of Transportation, academia and other industry players who debate and share knowledge on a range of asphalt issues.

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