Paving Solutions

May 2011

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Paving Solutions is published monthly by the Portland Cement Association as an internal communications vehicle to keep members, stakeholders, and partners informed about developments in the promotion of concrete paving and infrastructure funding.


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Concrete Pavement Helps Bring Food to Market

Garfield AvenueHigh-quality farm-to-market roads are very important to agricultural interests in the state of Iowa, and Sioux County’s Garfield Avenue was no exception.

To address this need, Cedar Valley Corp. paved five miles of road with eight-inch thick concrete pavement. The project involved the regrading and paving of an existing gravel county road. A considerable amount of shoulder-grading was also performed to correct the existing foreslopes and bring them up to the current standards. The 22-foot wide pavement was a variable depth design of nine inches on the outside edge and eight inches at centerline. This design method is used in Iowa to counteract the outside point loads applied by farmers’ grain wagons.

In spite of the challenges, this project was finished in only 53 working days.

The project was honored as a gold winner in the county road division of the American Concrete Pavement Association's 21st annual “Excellence in Concrete Pavement” awards, which recognize quality concrete pavements constructed in the United States and Canada.
More at the Think Harder. Concrete blog
Photo courtesy of the American Concrete Pavement Association


CNBC Spot Up and Running in Target Cities

As part of the government relations campaign led by Mercury LLC, a “What Are the Real Costs” advertising campaign aired in targeted markets this week.

The ad ran on CNBC to reach policy makers, thought-leaders, and reporters as House Members are back in their home districts for the House Recess.  The piece ran from May 18 through May 24—and provided a lead-in to the TCC Fly-In this week. The spots focus on the need to invest in transportation infrastructure that gets the best deal for the taxpayer and positions life-cycle budgeting as the path forward.

A top priority for PCA and the industry is to change the way government agencies build roads and other infrastructure by basing decisions on life-cycle analysis or LCA. By considering costs over the entire life of the project to build and maintain, LCA takes into account concrete’s superior durability and offers a more efficient and cost-saving funding mechanism.

A video of the advertisement is available on the campaign web site at


FHWA Releases Pilot Version of Sustainable Highways Tool

The pilot version of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool was recently released and is available for viewing at The Tool is intended to provide a method for practitioners to evaluate their transportation projects and to encourage progress in the sustainability arena. The pilot version represents a significant improvement to the FHWA Beta Tool released last fall.

Through PCA's efforts, positive changes were incorporated into the recently released pilot version of the FHWA Tool. One major modification was the simplification of credits and scoring. Under the PD-22 Long-Life Pavement Design section, the requirement based on designing to a minimum thickness for asphalt and concrete was eliminated. It also expanded one of the requirements to include specific reference to designing the pavement in accordance with the 1993 AASHTO Design of Pavement Structures manual or the AASHTO MEPDG—1 Mechanistic—Empirical Pavement Design Guide. The elimination of the thickness design graph and inclusion of the MEPDG procedure satisfactorily addressed the primary issues raised by PCA and the cement and concrete industry.

To address a similar concern with the long-life pavement requirements in the Greenroads manual, PCA has submitted formal comments to the developers of Greenroads encouraging them to incorporate similar wording from the FHWA Tool into their document.
More at the Think Harder. Concrete blog
Contact Wayne Adaska


MIT Research Brief Emphasizes the “Lifecycle Perspective”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently released a special research brief stressing the importance of adopting methodologies that use a lifecycle perspective when developing strategies to reach sustainability goals.

The research was carried out by the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT with sponsorship provided by PCA and the Ready Mixed Concrete Research & Education Foundation.

The brief concludes that the coupling of two methodologieslife-cycle assessment (LCA) for environmental impact and life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) for economic impactsprovides decision makers with the tools to reach sustainability targets using cost-effective strategies.

For decision makers, according to the report, environmental improvement strategies are only practical if the costs are competitive. Embracing this concept, the low-hanging fruit can be redefined as those strategies that offer a large environmental reduction potential at a low economic cost. This represents the most feasible approach to reducing the environmental impact of buildings and pavements.
View the brief
Contact Mark Justman


Concrete Allies Take Their Concerns to the State Legislators

Concrete Day in TennesseeThis has been a very active spring for the cement and concrete industries and their allies. Their messages and concerns have been taken to state capitals throughout the country.

On May 4, 2011, more than 50 members of the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association and the North Carolina Concrete Pavement Association participated in the third annual North Carolina “Concrete Day” held in Raleigh, N.C. Armed with handouts listing general issues and concerns of the industry, the participants met with several state lawmakers to discuss transportation issues with an emphasis on a request for increased consideration of concrete for paving projects in the state. Several attendees also met with members of the governors’ staff as well the State Highway Administrator.

The concrete message was delivered to Capitol Hill in Tennessee on April 12. This cooperative government relations effort between ready-mix, cement, paving, pipe, and precast associations is making a positive impact on the decision-makers in state government. Forty industry representatives made scheduled small-group office visits to more than 50 Tennessee lawmakers. Industry emphasized the under-investment in infrastructure and the need for sustainable transportation funding. The group also hosted a barbecue luncheon (shown here) that was attended by more than 100 legislators, staffers, and other government officials.

The second annual "Concrete Day at the Capital," held on April 29, was declared by a proclamation from Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper and viewed as a complete success. About 500 legislators and capitol staffers attended a luncheon that provided an opportunity for concrete industry representatives to visit with lawmakers regarding the importance of the industry to Colorado's economy. The event attracted 19 senators and 35 representatives, representing 54 percent of the Colorado legislature. Enrique Escalante, GCC of America, and PCA past chairman, and eight other cement executives and staff assisted with this event.

Sponsored by the Colorado Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the American Concrete Pavement Association-Colorado/Wyoming Chapter and the Portland Cement Association-Rocky Mountain Region, the event recognized the hard work of the Colorado Legislature and their staffs during one of the most difficult economic periods in Colorado history. A secondary purpose was to raise the awareness of the importance of the concrete industry to the state of Colorado's economic growth.
Contact Roger Faulkner
Contact Don Clem


April PPI: Steel, Lumber Increase

April PPISteel prices continued to increase with a 5.3 percent jump in the PPI in March from February, according to the latest Producer Price Index issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lumber was also up, marginally, by 0.7 percent. The concrete and asphalt PPI showed no change from February.

During the last 12 months, steel has increased 15.3 percent and asphalt by 1.7 percent. Lumber rose 0.7 percent. Concrete prices have declined 0.6 percent during the same period.

Source: Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. PCA provides this information to aid in the promotion of concrete and cement-based products.
Contact Joe Chiappe
More information
More at the Think Harder. Concrete blog


Historic Infrastructure Funding Passes in North Dakota

The North Dakota legislature recently passed authorization of approximately $430 million of state revenue to be added to federal money for infrastructure construction in 2011-13. The historic DOT budget was approved without legislative conferencing which is unprecedented. While North Dakota is benefitting from oil boom revenues, the measure exceeded industry expectations and clearly indicates a commitment to infrastructure improvement and employment in construction. Cement and concrete industry leaders have actively advocated for transportation funding and concrete pavements through the North Dakota Concrete Council.
Contact Doug Burns


47-Year-Old Roadway Receives an Unbonded Overlay

On April 12, approximately 85 guests attended the I-59 Unbonded Concrete Overlay-Open House on I-59 near Gadsden, Ala. Guests included staff from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Alabama Department of Transportation, and other allied industries. Attendees were presented a project overview by Jim Peace, Hinkle Contracting, and Robert Taylor, ACPA. The FHWA Mobile Laboratory also demonstrated testing devices in use on the project. After the lunch the group was transported to the project and received a tour of the central batch plant, the FHWA Mobile Laboratory, and the concrete paving equipment. The 10.77 mile project is scheduled for completion in 2012.
Contact Roger Faulkner


Virginia OKs $4 Billion Transportation Infrastructure Plan

The State of Virginia will spend nearly $4 billion on transportation infrastructure during the next four years under terms of sweeping legislation that was signed into law earlier this week. The money is expected to fund more than 900 projects statewide without raising taxes, according to a report on CivSource. Ranging from road and bridge improvements to increased rail and transit services. Overall, the projects are expected to increase the Virginia economy by more than $13 billion and create nearly 100,000 new jobs, CivSource reports.

The state will also create an infrastructure bank, which will make low-interest loans and grants to localities, transportation authorities and private-sector partners for transportation projects. The bank will be funded through a $283 million from the 2010 budget surplus. Governor Bob McDonnell has set a goal of putting $1 billion into the bank through a variety of funding mechanisms over the next three years.
More at the Think Harder. Concrete blog


ARRA Spending Drops in April

According to a recently released PCA Market Intelligence report, 71.3 percent of total American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) highway funds have been dispersed through April, compared to 69.7 percent in March. April highway stimulus spending was $436 million; a 19 percent decrease from March's spending rate. However, against year-ago levels, April spending declined 31 percent.

In the last three months, spending has averaged $476 million per month.

Oklahoma (98.1 percent), South Dakota (97.8 percent), and Wyoming (96 percent) have spent the largest share of their allocated funds. Eleven states have spent more than 90 percent of their funds, compared to seven at the start of the year. Accelerated spending in Virginia (33.5 percent) lifted the region from last in terms of spent funds. Hawaii (32.8 percent) is now the laggard in ARRA spending. The five largest cement consuming states have 38.4 percent of their stimulus funds availabledown from 40.6 percent last month.

Highway stimulus spending in 2010 amounted to $11.4 billion, double that of 2009. Stimulus spending weakened considerably in April with levels nearing February's 2011 low. The weakness was broad-based as spending in 32 states in April was lower than that in the prior month. PCA continues to look for accelerated spending in the coming months despite recent weakness.
Contact David Zwicke