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Asphalt road industry given a snapshot of municipal paving projects for 2021

Dan O’Reilly
Asphalt road industry given a snapshot of municipal paving projects for 2021

The asphalt road industry has been given a snapshot of anticipated municipal paving projects in 2021.

Based on responses to its annual online municipal paving forecast, the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) is projecting that just over 1.05 million tonnes of asphalt will be used on municipal roads.

Early each year the association conducts the online survey of all 444 Ontario municipalities, analyzes and compiles the data, and then formally unveils its findings at the Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council’s annual Partners in Quality seminar.

The 1.05 million tonne figure is the equivalent of paving Highway 401 three times over, OGRA technical products and research co-ordinator Amin Mneina told attendees at this year’s virtual seminar.

There were 43 survey replies, or a 10 per cent response rate, with the highest number coming from southwestern Ontario at 16.  That region is one of four geographic areas the survey is divided into. The others are northern Ontario and the central and southeast sections of the province.

In comparing this year’s responses with those of last year, the OGRA is predicting hot mix tonnage use in 2022 in central Ontario, which includes the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area, will remain basically the same at 718,400 tonnes. That represents 68 per cent of the 1.05 million tonnes.

Tonnage usage will decline in the other regions, with the sharpest drop being in southwestern Ontario with a 20 per cent dip, followed by northern Ontario with a 14 per cent decline. In southeastern Ontario there will be a three-per-cent reduction.

A section of the survey focused on how the pandemic affected 2020 paving operations.

As noted by Mneina, the impact was varied. Paving construction was faster in some municipalities “perhaps because there were less cars on the road,’’ while others reported a decline in paving operations compared to 2019, Mneina explained.

The survey also showed almost 40 per cent of municipalities are using Ontario Provincial Standards in their specifications, while almost 50 per cent are using them with special provisions.

In a series of questions focusing on sustainability, 55 per cent of respondents indicated the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement in asphalt mixtures is allowed. The highest concentration is southwestern Ontario at 67 per cent.

However, 60 per cent of the municipalities said they don’t allow the use of warm mix asphalt.

At the same time, approximately 20 per cent of respondents said the use of fibre reinforced asphalt is permitted on a “project by project” basis or in trial projects. While more than 50 per cent said “no,” they also expressed strong interest in potential trial projects where fibre could be incorporated.

“I found that exciting and hopeful. Municipalities are looking at new technologies and practices,” said Mneina in a telephone interview following the seminar.

Asked about the seemingly low response rate of 43 per cent, he said that is comparable to previous years and the results can be used to provide a fairly accurate projection of municipal road projects.

“It (the survey) gives contractors an idea of what work might be in the pipeline.”

The results are presented in an aggregate format and participating municipalities are not identified, he said.

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