“In my opinion this is an exciting, challenging and sometimes even a very frustrating time to be in the hot mix asphalt business. Every week it seems something new or different is taking place. I’ve been in the industry for many years now and have never seen this many changes in such a short period of time,” said Charles Scott, owner, B & S Contracting Inc.
“The exhilarating thing is that, as a member of both contractor and asphalt producer industry associations, I have a front row seat as we progress into the next millennium. Continuous, nonstop asphalt paving will turn out to be a major factor in highway longevity. We can increase production doing it this way and we can even do it using a few less trucks. That’s an offsetting saving when calculating the increased costs of Superpave asphalt production and paving,” continued Scott.
Scott’s company recently combined a new, state of the art Blaw-Knox MC-330 asphalt transfer vehicle, and a Blaw-Knox PF-3200 highway class laydown machine together with a PF-161 utility class paver and an RW-100A road widener. “We did this to increase efficiency, productivity and smoothness,” explained Scott.
“The equipment is built to reduce segregation and to maintain an even, more uniform temperature throughout the mix. It’s also designed to help achieve the densities and rideability demanded by the Virginia Department of Transportation, [VDOT],” he added.
A short while ago, B & S Contracting completed a major road rehabilitation and resurfacing project utilizing most of its Blaw-Knox equipment spread on a nearby interstate highway. The $1.5 million I-81 contract called for the contractor to do the work at night, four nights a week. The 11-week job included both the 4th of July and Labor Day holidays. It was a foregone conclusion that all milled areas would be filled in and all contractor equipment be totally clear of the highway during those time periods.
The work called for milling off 3 in. (7.6 cm) of the old surface from the existing travel lanes. The contractor put back 25,000 tons (22,500 t) of type BM-25 asphalt. B & S Contracting then pulled a full 37 ft. (11.5 m) road width from shoulder to shoulder, one lane at a time.
This required 25,000 tons (22,500 t) of type SM-12.5D surface asphalt. It was put down 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) deep. Both were Superpave mixes and required the typical special temperature and compaction controls. Scott said that the MC-330 and the PF-3200 did the bulk of the work. B & S did, however, combine the PF-3200 with a new Blaw-Knox PF-161 to pull the outside travel lane and the 10 ft. (3 m) wide shoulder area in tandem while paving that side.
“To see more of these equipment changes, all you have to do is to come out on a job that we are doing near Staunton, Virginia. We are putting down more Superpave asphalt there. The basic design of the roadways has changed. The materials, temperatures and production of the HMA have all been altered. The specifications for the final highway surface compaction [density] and rideability [smoothness] have recently been revised and are still undergoing final revision. We can’t do today’s paving projects with yesterday’s machinery,” added Scott.
Scott said he feels fortunate to be sitting on a joint state/contractor group working on proposed new asphalt density requirements. “We are all working very diligently to provide the end user, the taxpayer, a longer lasting highway; in other words, more road for his or her tax dollar,” he explained.
Ed Brunch and Scott formed B & S Contracting Inc. in 1982. They had worked together for a number of years at another construction firm. The opportunity came about to purchase that company’s asphalt division, so they did. “We owned five asphalt plants and served a six county area in west central Virginia. When Ed retired a year ago, we split the company. I reorganized and downsized B & S Contracting Inc. and his sons formed Black Rock Contracting,” said Scott.
Today B & S Contracting works mainly in Augusta and Highland counties. This includes the cities of Waynesboro and Staunton and several smaller ones. Scott feels this is an ideal location for his company. About 50 percent of B & S’s work is in the public sector with the remainder being done in the private sector. There are two interstate highways in the area; I-81 going north and south, and I-64 going east and west. There are a number of primary, secondary and smaller roads, too. Each of these interstate highways and a major bypass around Staunton are being reconfigured to carry traffic loads more efficiently.
“This is our first year to work with the new Superpave mixes. I think that we can adapt our crews to use it. I do think that it is a far different, more rock to rock with less fines, mix. For a number of years we simply did not put enough liquid asphalt in our mixes. This addresses that problem, too. Superpave definitely does require that we pay more attention to it at every step of the way. But we’re all professionals in this business and we can handle that,” said Scott.
“Today, where we are only paving .6 mile of highway on Route 262, the southern Staunton Bypass, the value of the MC-330 toward getting rideability [smoothness] really shows. Our full job is only 1.2 miles long and even then we can only pave the sections that Branch Highways Inc. get ready for us. In that length we also must cross two bridges in each direction. The road consists of two 12-foot wide travel lanes in each direction with a median dividing the east and west roadways. There will also be a 3-foot wide shoulder on the median side and an 8-foot wide outside shoulder,” noted Scott.
He went to point out that one interesting aspect of the bypass is that it is not designed and being built as a full length divided highway. Part of the next two contracts to come up for bid will be reduced from four lanes down to two. This is the same concept and design as on Staunton’s northern bypass. Enough right of way has already been acquired to expand the roads in the future when the traffic demands it.
“Since this is all new road, there is a layer of open graded primary rock that is around 24 inches deep. There is a leveling course of 21B stone, and another 8-inch thick course of compacted 21B stone. On the mainline, we come in with 6 inches of BM-25 Superpave mix, and one and a half inches of SM-12.5A surface course. The Blaw-Knox MC-330 really helps with the smoothness here, as well,” said Scott.
“Our new Blaw-Knox MC-330 materials handling machine and our PF-3200 highway class paver have gone a long way toward helping our paving crews achieve the rideability specifications required by VDOT. These, along with our other Blaw-Knox equipment, should position us competitively well into the new millennium,” he added.
(The preceding article appears courtesy of Blaw-Knox Operating Strategy Report.)